I've been working for three weeks to get a perfect stain formula to match my existing Oak kitchen cabinets. Because I'm building new cabinets and trim to match the existing cabinets, the stain has to match perfectly, or it'll stand out like a sore thumb.
I started out at the home center. The store clerk was very helpful...he opened up cans, grabbed some scrap red oak and started dabbing on stains. There was no stain that was a perfect match, so I finally decided on mixing two of the Minwax oil-based stains.
I get home and plane up some fresh boards to experiment on. I use 3 boards: one for the cherry stain, one for the colonial maple stain, and one for a 50/50 mix of the two. Of course you have to wait 4 hours between coats, so it takes 3 days just to get a board with test patches of 1 coat, 2 coats, 3 coats, and 4 coats - all with polyurethane coats on top. Wow.
I get looking at the sample boards closely. The 50:50 mix is alot closer, but it doesn't seem 'red' enough. So I make up another test board and a formula of 2 parts colonial maple: 1 part cherry. Another couple of days for several coats, and this sample is looking very close.
So I get looking at the sample boards...they look pretty close, so I grab my 1/8" inch oak skins that I'll be applying to the sides of the new cabinets, and start staining away. After the first couple of coats dry, it's clear that the panels are missing a 'tint'. I have some Minwax water-based Golden Oak stain laying around, so I try applying this over top of the oil-based.
Once I get the panels all poly'ed they look very close, but I'm thinking, 'Hmmn...this is going to be a difficult application to touch up, or match at a later date.'
Back to the home center. Find a third oil-based stain with a yellow tint, Puritan Pine. Another test board, several more formulas and test applications. Finally, I've settled on a formula that will work...I'm sure...really.
Well I'll have another look tonight before I stain my newly fabricated door. If it still looks good in the day light, I'll start by staining the back of the door, in case I need to adjust yet again.
THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY?