Just completed new birch ply base cabinets for a kitchen in a rental
apartment. I'd like them to match the original top cabinets that are still
I've tried several shades of minwax stains with both varnish and
polyurethane as a protective coat. I think I have the right "darkness" but
I'm having trouble matching the "orange" color of the original cabinets.
Could the orange tone be due to aging? The original cabinets are 40 years
old. Could I sand the original and recoat?
Any thoughts or suggestions would be aprreciated
Yes, aging changes the tone of the stain color. You might try using
some reddish analine dye (Available from woodworker's supply). I use
water base but you'll need to match the base of the type of stain you're
using. It comes in water, oil, and alcohol. Your stain is probably
water or oil based. It'll tell you on the container.
Mike in Pelham, NC
Ken Johnsen wrote:
More than likely, it is the finish that has ambered over the years. The
wood too, may have darkened some over time. If you strip it, you may find
the original cabinets darker than the new cabinets and you will still have
some matching to do. In the past, I have used dyes to correct for color.
You might try something like -
You can add a little to the stain for the new cabinets to match the old
Read the thread "Water based glaze" that started on 7-28-03. As long as you
are using an oil based final finish, a glaze/toner should do the trick for
One real advantage is that you can test your glaze/toner in a small area on
the cabinet and if it isn't good enough, wipe it off with paint thinner and a
rag and then adjust your color and try again.
Ken Johnsen wrote:
This is just a thought and not a condemnation of glazes so don't no one get
a bent out of shape.
Glazes and toners have their place and are handy techniques to be able to
do. They are especially useful for blending heart and sap wood and handling
miss matched grain (as anyone who has ever stripped a factory produced
cherry piece can attest to). They also work well as a way to accent certain
aspects of a piece or to handle difficult to stain woods..
However, the process of sandwiching color between layers of finish also, and
there is no way around it, obscures the grain of the wood to one extent or
another. It will rob it of most of the sense of depth you can get if there
is nothing between the top of the finish and the wood.
Where, as probably true in this case (red oak) or at least should be, none
of the above is applicable an aniline dye is probably a much better choice.
Anilines, which soak into the cells of the wood rather then sitting on top
of them, work wonderfully at enhancing grain and adding to the sense of
I wouldn't argue with anything you said. However, the posts I responded to were
unique because Ken wanted to match new work to old and Todd wanted to
experiment. In both cases I felt that a toner/glaze would work.
Another area where they are helpful is in restoration work when scratxches,
knicks, and veneer chips have to be repaired and colored. A thin glaze/toner can
help integrate the repair color with the rest of the color.
With all due respect, I strongly disagree with your conclusion that "the
process of sandwiching color between layers of finish also, and there is no
way around it, obscures the grain of the wood to one extent or another."
It is pretty standard to use toners, whether they be lacquer or shellac
based, in finishing and refinishing. The toners I am referring to do not
use pigments but rather dyes. While aniline dye is a misnomer as they are
no longer used, the name has stuck around. The same dyes are in toners.
They are completely transparent and only impart color, not detectable
opacity. In fact, this technique tends to make the finish look more like
stained glass rather than wood with mud on it. It is also easier to sneak
up on a color with toners rather than with a stain applied directly to wood.
For obvious reasons, toners are much more reversible.
For grain enhancement, a little oil on the wood does the trick although
shellac has some of the same refractive index properties. Shellac doesn't
soak into the wood nearly as much as an oil so the effect with shellac is
not nearly as dramatic.
I agree with your comment with respect to glazes but not toners.
Ok, fair enough, I stand corrected on the toner. Good information.
I also do not have a problem with oil as a grain enhancer. I, myself, don't
like to use it on light wood , I think it yellows to much, kind of looks
like a dog pissed on it.. My preference is a light application of aniline
dye matched as closely as possible to the woods own tone. Much as you
describe the toner application. On as dark wood, such as walnut, it's a
One question though. If a dye is used as a toner what fixes it on the non
pours finish undercoat?
The dye is dissolved in the lacquer, shellac, etc. Vendors formulate
different toners to be compatible with their different lines of finishes.
Typically, the toner burns into the previous layer just like applying a
clear coat of shellac, lacquer, etc. If the toner is in something that is
not an evaporative finish, like a varnish, then it must be applied within a
time window or the previous film must be allowed to cure and then be
roughened so there will be a good mechanical hold. Typically, I make my own
toners just by adding TransTints to shellac and then either spraying or
I agree you on the light versus dark wood and oil.
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