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Expert's Corner — color

Enhance the Appearance of Wood With Stains

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Enhance the Appearance of Wood With Stains

While there are some woodworkers who might cringe at the thought of staining wood, there are good reasons why you might want to do so. Some lighter colored woods, such as poplar, alder, beech, and birch do tend to look somewhat bland, and can benefit from a dash of color. Who hasn't bought a load of wood, only to find, after milling, a disappointing variation in the color - staining can even out the tone of the wood. When building new furniture or cabinetry to match existing pieces, staining might be the only way to blend the two. And, with...

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Wood Prep and the Look of a Finish

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Wood Prep and the Look of a Finish

The way you prepare the wood for finishing, whether by sanding as most do, or by scraping or planing as some do, has no affect on the way the wood will look with the finish applied. Different finishes add more or less color to the wood, but if you aren’t staining the wood, the way you prepare it has no impact on the appearance under any single finish. Nor does the grit to which you sand the wood make any difference for the appearance with the finish applied. You can sand to 120 grit or to 600 grit and you...

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TIP: Finish color differences

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TIP: Finish color differences

Finishes differ in the amount of color they add to wood. Though you may not notice much of a difference if you are applying the finish over a stain, there is a significant difference when no stain or other coloring steps are used. In the accompanying picture, you can see the differences clearly. On the far left is paste wax. It adds almost no coloring to the walnut. Next is water-based finish, which also doesn’t add color, but it does darken the wood a little because of the penetration. In the middle is nitrocellulose lacquer, which adds a slight yellowing...

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Finishes Differ in the Color They Impart

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Finishes Differ in the Color They Impart

You might choose a finish for its durability, drying speed, ease of use or cost, but you might also choose for the color it imparts to the wood. The accompanying picture shows unfinished oak at the top left, then seven common finishes and their color. If you haven’t done this comparison side by side, you may be surprised at the amount of difference. On top row from the left: unfinished, clear paste wax, water-based finish and nitrocellulose lacquer. On bottom row from the left: clear/blonde shellac, amber/orange shellac, polyurethane varnish and boiled linseed oil. In practice, wax would be an...

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TIP: Use Dye to Match New Parts

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TIP: Use Dye to Match New Parts

A common situation in furniture restoration is matching a newly made part to the color of the rest of the object. Water-soluble dyes are much more effective for doing this than commercial store-bought stains. The water-soluble dyes I’m referring to are those made by WD Lockwood. They are also sold by Woodworker’s Supply under the name Moser. Metalized dyes like those sold as NGR stains or Transtint aren’t nearly as effective because they are difficult to lighten. Trying to tweak the color usually results in it getting darker as the two colors blend and there’s no easy way to lighten...

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