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Old 01-07-2004, 01:03 PM   #1
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Staining Oak

One of the most important visual points to me is the propper color of the wood when done. To this end, I've saved a few scraps of the oak boards I used to construct my stand and have been test staing the scraps trying to find the right stain, application technique to get the color and darkness I want.

What I'm looking, I would describe as a dark cherry, dark being the key description. This would match a number of other pieces of furniture in the room the stand will be going in.

Every stain and application I try, however, leaves me with a very LIGHT colored piece of wood. I've tried only sanding to 200 grit as well as sanding to 600 grit and didn't pick up a difference in the color. I've been using the Minwax Gel stains. The colors i've tried were cherry, mahogany... and a third that I can't remember. I used the wood samples in the store when choosing the stains, the mahogany was the closest stain color, but came out to be a very light cherry.

Anyone have any pointers or suggestions? Am I having this problem because of the density of Oak? I'm going to see if I can find a pic of something online that demonstrates the color I'm looking for.

[edit]the third color was Rosewood... here's minwax's site... the color i'm looking for is a cross between the Mahogany and the Walnut. I want the deep dark of the walnut, with the red hue of the mahogany... thanks everyone!![/edit]

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Old 01-07-2004, 01:16 PM   #2
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My brother used those Gel Stains on his red oak and it turned out nice and dark. He did apply several coats, possibly 4 I think.

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Old 01-07-2004, 01:17 PM   #3
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If you go to Menards or Home Depot, typically they will have swatches that show the final color of the stain.
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Old 01-07-2004, 01:28 PM   #4
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How long did you leave the stain on before wiping it off?

The longer you leave it on there, the darker it will get.

check this out:

If consequence dictate my course of action, then it doesn't matter what's right, it's only wrong if you get caught.....
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Old 01-07-2004, 01:39 PM   #5
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As YakSplat said, how long are you leaving the stain on? One of the things when staining any hard wood is, the pourosity of the grain is dense... You have to thin the stain with either mineral spirits or the like... IMO, you should go to using the old method and just use the plain ole minwax stains.. You can thin them down better and IMO they look much better than the gel finished product...

If you use a paint brush to apply the stain, you will be able to get more on the wood and allow it to soak in better...then after a few minutes, wipe it off with a good absorbant cloth...

To acheive the dark brawnish red look, you will prolly want to start with a dark walnut, then when you get it to the darkness you want,, maybe a few coats later, you can apply some red mahagony or cherry stain and give it the red hue... it works quite well....Good Luck on your project...
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Old 01-07-2004, 04:30 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the input guys!

I have experimented with the set time a little as well. I first went with what the can suggests, then did another test where I slapped a boat load on a big piece, then every 10 minutes wiped one part of the stick off, let it set another ten minutes, wiped a different part of the stick etc etc... i just laughed... the first part of the stick was at 10 minutes... the last part of the stick was at 30 minutes... they didn't look any different to me!

I have got to be doing something wrong... I think i'm going to try the regular stains rather than the gels...

anyone want 3 cans of Minwax gel? only used about 2 tablespoons of each color! LOL
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Old 01-07-2004, 06:21 PM   #7
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My husband has been staining closet doors and bookcases for awhile now. He's using Minwax Water Based Stain, and it looks nice. Before he stains the wood, he uses Minwax Water-Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner. The label also says that it assures color uniformity of water-based stains. It brings out the grain pattern and makes it look nice too. The color seems to be more uniform too. He uses a brush, not a cloth, with the pre-stain and the stain. Then, for a finishing coat, he uses Minwax Water-Based Polycrylic protective finish. He's using Clear Semi-Gloss, but it I think it comes in a flat finish too. The Polycrylic is not as smelly as polyurethane, and that's good because it doesn't set off my allergies/asthma. It is gorgeous and shiny, and makes an excellent finisher, I think!

P.S. My husband just read this and said to keep applying coats until you get the color you want. Maybe try the water-based stain. Oak is pretty dense wood, and the gel may not be able to "seep" into the wood as easily as the water-based stain. Also, test the pre-stain out on another scrap piece of wood to test if you like the effect.
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Old 01-07-2004, 08:09 PM   #8
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I happen to paint custom homes for a living and work with stains ALL the time.
As timbo2 said "use the plain ol minwax stains" they cant be beat.

I personaly dont like the gels.
They just dont seem to penetrate the wood grain very well.
Try the ol fashioned stain and use a brush to get more stain on the wood.
Leave it sit a bit and wipe off the rest with a cloth.
This should give you the look you are looking for.
Good Luck.
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Old 01-07-2004, 08:29 PM   #9
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I had to do a lot of color matching when I was building my house. Sounds to me like you need golden oak, red oak and early american. You will have to test the percentages, but I would start with 50% golden oak, 30% red oak and 20 % early american. Mix using small measured quantities, then test. When you get the color you want, mix enough to do 2 coats (you'll never make it the same again). Put one coat on, sand, another coat, sand, then 3 coats polyeurethane.
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Old 01-08-2004, 12:57 AM   #10
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ohh man.. just the thought of mixing makes me shiver. When this "piece" is complete it will be 8 feet tall and 8 feet wide with a 55 (or 90) gallon tank in the middle. I would NEVER get that much stain mixed the same way for the whole thing. Especially since I know the stand will be done in the spring, and I probably wont have the rest of the unit done until fall...

I think i'll experiment with the water based stains some. I just wish I knew of a way I could test without having to buy a whole can of the stain... I've already got 3 cans I won'y likely use any time soon...

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