I'm trying to match a color with some Red Oak that I'm working with and
just about have it, but would like to get a little closer. By mixing 2
parts Light Oak Watco with 1 part Medium Oak Watco, I've got the light
wood color just right, but the dark wood is just a little too dark. Is
there a way for me to lighten the dark wood without lightening the light
Separately, has anyone tried to match the medium oak color commonly
found on laminated partical board furniture? I have some Bush and
Sauder drawers that I'd like to replace with real wood, but I like the
color of the current stuff.
<please reply to group>
If you are that concerned about color matching, you have to start when
you select the boards for the project. The only real successful way to
change the tone on an existing project such as this is to use a tone
(color) in the lacquer or poly. Then you vary the number of layers with
more layers where you need to darken it and less where you want to
lighten it. You can do this as you spray or you can sand out some of
the layers. Staining to various colors can be done but way harder and
I've never seen it done successfully.
Just for clarification, by light wood and dark wood, I mean light grain
and dark grain. I want to lighten the dark grain, but would like the
light wood to stay close to what it is now once I stain.
I've never really got it straight about early/late/heart/sap etc.
To color woods like oak more evenly, you either need to use a dye (versus a
pigment) stain or use a pore filler. Pigment stains make open grain woods
have wider dark/light variations due to the tiny pigment grains getting
trapped in the pores while the rest gets wiped off. Pore fillers make the
surface even so everything gets an even "coating". Check out Flexner's book
on wood finishing, he discusses this extensively.
Your "light wood" is also known as "summer wood" because that is the
portion of the annular ring that was growing in the drier, hotter
Your "dark wood" is also known as "spring wood" because that is the
portion of the annular ring that was growing in the wetter spring
weather after the tree awakens from its' dormant winter stage.
Because the cells of the spring wood grow much quicker than the cells
of the summer wood, they tend to be larger and more porous. (picture a
soda straw as compared to a smaller cocktail straw) This bigger size
cell leads to softer, more absorbant cell than that which is found in
the summer wood. This leads to a darker color when stained.
The easiest way to minimize this (not eliminate it) is to lightly seal
the surface (I use tung oil or a thinned wipe on poly). When this
dries, I sand with 220, vacuum/tack it and then apply my coat of stain.
As always, this is what works for me... your mileage may vary, and most
importantly, try it on a piece of scrap first to see if you like the
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