Raw Wood

Tedswoodworking Plans

Ted's Woodworking Plans

Get Instant Access

Each completed step board clearly shows the progression from raw wood to completed finish.

on an old drawer front made of quarter-sawn white oak. It has golden, glowing rays, a dark brown hue, black pores, an amber tone and a low sheen.

Experience tells me that the best way to imitate the intensely colored rays is to use a golden brown or yellow dye as a ground color. I know that I can replicate the dark brown tone and black pores with an oil-based pigment stain. I can duplicate the amber tone by using orange/amber shellac (which I'm sure is the original finish), and I can achieve the low sheen by applying a topcoat of satin varnish.

Now that I've identified the basic components of the finish, I can start making step boards. As the overall color of the finish is created by layering dye stain, pigment stain and shellac, I'll use all three components to determine the exact color of each one. On my first step board, the dye color is the variable; the pigment stain and the shellac are consistent (Photo 1). On my second step board, the pigment stain is the variable (Photo 2).

The next step is to make a pair of complete step boards, so that I can compare the two promising finishes that I've identified. Each board must be large enough to adequately show each finish layer, with a large section at the end showing the completed finish. These large samples make it easier to choose the one that matches the best. One interesting thing about step boards is that the finish doesn't look right until the last layer is applied (Photo 3). For each finish layer you add on the step board, follow the same application method and drying time that you'll use on your project (Photo 4).

Using amber shellac to match the amber tone of the original finish may take some experimenting. With one coat of shellac, the amber tone of my step boards looked pale, compared to the drawer's original finish. So, I applied a second coat (Photo 5).

Applying the topcoat is the last step (Photo 6). Each completed board clearly shows every finishing step (Photo 7). I now have two similar— but distinct—finishes to choose from (Photo 8). And as I've recorded every the dye to completely dry—usually about one hour.

3. Apply the gel stain liberally and immediately wipe off the excess. The working time for gel stains is about five minutes, so work in relatively small areas. Allow the stain to dry twelve hours.

4. Brush on two coats of shellac, allowing 1/2 hour dry time following each coat.

5. Scuff the shellac with a gray nylon abrasive pad.

6. Brush on one or more water-based polyurethane topcoats.

step, I can easily duplicate them both.

The "mission oak" recipe Materials

• Transfast yellow water-soluble dye (powder form), mixed at half the label strength.

• Bartley's jet mahogany gel stain.

• General Finishes water-based high performance polyurethane, satin. How-to

1. Finish sand all surfaces to 150 grit.

2. Apply the dye liberally, let it saturate the wood for a couple minutes, and then wipe off the excess. Allow

Step Board Q&A

Step boards can provide definitive answers to finishing questions, because they allow testing each variable independently. The results can be subtle, or surprising. For example:

"What does the yellow dye do?"

When used as a ground color on the raw wood, yellow water-based dye helps to create the nuances found in mission-era finishes on quartersawn white oak. Most importantly, it colors the rays and intensifies their appearance. It also enriches the color of the dark brown stain and blackens the pores.

"Why use amber shellac?"

Wow! As you can see, amber shellac literally transforms the color when it's applied over layers of dye and pigment. Its unique effect is a key element in creating authentic-looking finishes for Arts and Crafts style furniture pieces.

"How does a clear finish change the color of the wood?"

A clear finish can produce a variety of colors, depending on the number of coats that are applied. The color of this walnut board deepens dramatically as the wood becomes fully saturated and a film builds on top.

Step Board Q&A

Step boards can provide definitive answers to finishing questions, because they allow testing each variable independently. The results can be subtle, or surprising. For example:

Blanket Chest by Ernie Spinks

"How does a clear finish change the color of the wood?"

A clear finish can produce a variety of colors, depending on the number of coats that are applied. The color of this walnut board deepens dramatically as the wood becomes fully saturated and a film builds on top.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
The Complete Guide To Wood Finishing

The Complete Guide To Wood Finishing

Wood finishing can be tricky and after spending hours on building your project you want to be sure that you get the best outcome possible. In The Complete Guide To Wood Finishing you will learn how to get beautiful, professional results no matter what your project is, even if you have never tried your hand at wood finishing before. You will learn about every step in the wood finishing process from a professional wood finisher with years of experience.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment