staining white birch super dark - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 6 Old 12-31-2009, 06:35 PM Thread Starter
Junior Member
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 21
View munky000527's Photo Album My Photos
staining white birch super dark

I'm trying to make a bookshelf out of white birch plywood, but I would like it to look very dark, almost black.

How should I go about staining the plywood so that the finish is uniform and looks good?

Do I need wood conditioner or anything? Should I not have bought white birch for this project?
munky000527 is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 6 Old 01-01-2010, 09:26 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 207
View JW_in_Indy's Photo Album My Photos
White Birch is a fine choice for a bookshelf. However, Birch is one of those woods that doesn't take stain very evenly. A simple shelf bought wood conditioner will not do a very good job IMHO to help get an even looking stain job. For a pre conditioner, I would use two or three light coats of dewaxed shellac cut 50/50 with denatured alcohol. I've found this to work quite well on woods that tend to be "splotchy" when stained (Pine, Poplar, Maple and Birch in particular).

Now to the stain.... Like I mentioned above, Birch tends to take stain very un-evenly (although preconditioning the wood helps tremendously). So a penetrating pigmented stain (which relys on pigment being trapped in the pores of the wood to color it) will work fairly well to highlight the grain, but NOT work very well to stain something like Birch or Maple dark. Oil based or water based won't matter. They will be about the same.

What you need for your project is to use a DYE stain. Note, some pigmented stains use a little dye in the darker colors, but for a truly uniform "even" look, a pure dye stain would be the way to go IMHO. I like using the TRANSTINT dyes that I get from my local Rockler woodworking store. Here is some great info on how to use them: Or.... a ready made dye stain from General Finishes (I really like General Finishes products they are much higher in quality than typical big box store type products IMHO)....

Or, if you can find one that suits your color requirements, a gel stain will also work quite well on woods that tend to be splotchy. A gel stain stays more on the surface of the wood so you can get a more even color consistancy when using them. However, like a dye stain, you will cover up the grain of the wood when using them. Particularly if staining quite dark. Gel stains (like anything else really) vary radically as to quality. I highly recommend the gel stains from General finishes: However, they don't have anything that is near "black" in color. So you might want to ask at your local Rocklar or Woodcraft woodworking store if they can tint them darker for you.

In any case, test, test and test some more on scrap before you start. Keep a finishing schedule on each (so that it can be repeatable) until you get the results you want BEFORE you start your main project.

Good luck.

Last edited by JW_in_Indy; 01-02-2010 at 09:36 AM.
JW_in_Indy is offline  
post #3 of 6 Old 01-01-2010, 11:30 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 373
View jerry's Photo Album My Photos
Use a shellac based primer and thinned black paint. Oil based paint or water borne acrylic.

jerry is offline  
post #4 of 6 Old 01-01-2010, 04:14 PM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 62
View jaros bros.'s Photo Album My Photos
You've got a couple of great posts already. Make a few samples and find what look you like the best. You should also take the sample and put your topcoat on. Sometimes the topcoat will darken the appearance or reveal an incompatibility. Make sure you have what you want BEFORE you stain your piece.

Josh Jaros Remodeler in The Woodlands, Texas
jaros bros. is offline  
post #5 of 6 Old 01-02-2010, 09:17 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 207
View JW_in_Indy's Photo Album My Photos
Well spank me Frank.... General Finishes DOES have a dark "Java" in their gel stain. I had never seen it before and just happened by the GF web site and found this....

Last edited by JW_in_Indy; 01-02-2010 at 09:37 AM.
JW_in_Indy is offline  
post #6 of 6 Old 01-02-2010, 03:00 PM Thread Starter
Junior Member
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 21
View munky000527's Photo Album My Photos
Can someone tell me what the best plywood for staining dark colors would be?
munky000527 is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Birch Ply and dark stain audiokat Wood Finishing 15 08-09-2011 04:08 PM
staining dark, sanding lightly, and then staining light to accentuate grain? mattclara Wood Finishing 2 10-29-2009 01:17 PM
Birch Plywood Staining smata67 Wood Finishing 2 03-09-2009 08:16 PM
White Washing dark paneling Billytrail General Woodworking Discussion 5 06-30-2008 07:14 PM
Natural finish white birch or maple bdickey Wood Finishing 1 10-05-2007 12:58 AM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome