I finally got around to building that blanket chest my wife swears I
promised her 20 years ago. I prefer to leave the wood natural with only
a clear finish, but she wanted the chest to match the existing bedroom
furniture, a sort of dark reddish brown. I'm not sure what wood the
existing furniture is, maybe pecan, but red oak looks pretty close.
The first thing I tried was a water soluble dye called brown mahogany.
Found out water based dyes won't stain the pores in oak. Besides, the
color was a little too red.
The I tried Watco dark walnut to fill the pores, both by itself and over
the water based dye. Much too much pigment in the pores.
I finally wound up mixing alcohol soluble dyes into shellac (Zinsser's
Sealcoat). I wiped on two coats of "medium brown" followed by one coat
of "reddish brown" - an almost perfect match. Followed up with several
coats (I lost count) of shellac with no dye.
All I have to do now is wait a week or two and go over the shellac very
lightly with 600 grit and add some wax.
Reminds me of that old saying "Whatever the finishing problem, the answer
is shellac." :-)
Intelligence is an experiment that failed - G. B. Shaw