upon a truly great color you'll Ik- able to reproduce it later.


There are two ways to create a personalized wood stain—by premixing individual stains or by layering one stain over another. The first method, premixing, works only with compatible stains, that is, stains having the same solvent. For example, you can mix two water-based stains together, but you can't mix an oil-based stain with a water-based stain.

The other method is to apply stains in layers, one color on top of another, until you get the look you want. Compatibility is less important with this layering method, but if you're using both oil-based and water-based stains, put the water-based ones on first. Water-based dye stains will not penetrate through an oil film.

If this is your first time mixing colors, my advice is, don't hold back. No matter how awful you think a color combi nation will look, try it anyway—it may surprise you. Experience will teach you which combinations to avoid.

Stain only one side of each board so that you can write your "formula" on the flip side. Use a brush or rag to flood the stain onto your sample square, and wipe off all the excess before it dries. Try your color combinations on each type of wood you plan to work with, because the color of the wood will affect the look of the stain.

One advantage of aniline dyes is that you can create colors right on the wood by going over the board with first one dye. then another. Between each staining operation, 1 wipe off everything that did not absorb. Since I work with water-soluble dyes, there's no need to wait between coats for the stain to dry.

Once you are finished with all your color experiments, make sure to write vour formulas on the back of each board. Then remove the masking tape and allow the stains to dry according to the manufacturers' recommendations.


It s important to use the same finish on your stain board that you plan to use on your project. Sealers and top coats almost always add some color to wood, and most stains look different under different finishes.

Apply the scaler and/or lop coat to your stain board as you normally would. Don't forget to note the type of top coat in your formula on the back.

When your sample board is finished, you'll have a handy finishing guide for future projects and a better understanding of how professional finishers color wood. ▲


Send your questions about finishing problems, materials, and techniques to: Michael Drcsdncr, Ami kk an \Vooi>wokki r, 33 F. Minor St., Emmaus, PA 180<)8

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