advice on stain for douglas fir - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 06-29-2020, 09:17 PM Thread Starter
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advice on stain for douglas fir

Hi everyone,

So I am really completely new to this type of work. I am restoring a custom bed my father made for me as a child so my son can use it now. The bed was made of Douglas Fir. I have sanded using 100 grit sandpaper and removed the prior stain and poly. I would like to try to preserve the natural look of the wood, but would also like to try to make the colors of each piece more uniform, as some pieces have a lighter color and others have more of a red-ish hue. So I was thinking of using a stain to bring them together. I was initially considering a gel stain, but seems that may take away from the wood grain appearance. Then I was consider an oil stain, but I am reading that I would need to use a wood conditioner first since douglas fir has a tendency to be blochy. So I would be very interested in any feedback you have on what might be the best approach.
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post #2 of 7 Old 06-29-2020, 10:35 PM
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I think it would help if you posted a photo so we can all see what youíre dealing with. Iíve made a lot of furniture from Douglas Fir (click on my photos) and staining it can be done with a good outcome. It all comes down to what youíre looking for and what you like. For sure you want to use a wood conditioner to reduce blotchiness. When Iíve stained it Iíve used a dark walnut wipe on stain.
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post #3 of 7 Old 06-30-2020, 07:40 AM
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With new pine I do use a conditioner, older wood rarely. On pine I really like early american stain, with special walnut/colonial maple coming in second, just my opinion cause it matches a lot of the furniture we have.
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post #4 of 7 Old 06-30-2020, 03:33 PM Thread Starter
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So here are the pictures of the Douglas Fir I am working with, along with my “shop” setup, aka 2 trash cans an a drop cloth. I still have the headboard pieces to get, so I will have those this weekend. I also attached the images of what this wood was stained before. Again, the goal is to keep a light color but try to match up the pieces, as I really love the color and pattern of the two side bars for the bed.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 5E5B940B-B5A2-4AC3-8F01-522FB0EC2011_1593545378526.jpg (470.3 KB, 16 views)
File Type: jpg 4E011055-E177-4337-A989-D53603D2D2A7_1593545395186.jpg (423.7 KB, 16 views)
File Type: jpg 18768C94-7EF8-47F3-B40C-582D0B810F43_1593545409503.jpg (438.9 KB, 17 views)
File Type: jpg 85B82B9F-04B2-4219-8D2A-B7155C94952C_1593545422866.jpg (460.6 KB, 15 views)
File Type: jpg A481EF9F-C3F8-44BB-B075-8384CF27CF34_1593545592156.jpg (543.0 KB, 16 views)
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post #5 of 7 Old 07-01-2020, 11:38 AM
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I've always found it very difficult to stain different colored base woods to be the same color when finished. It's kind of like a car. Dark primer makes the top coat darker, regardless of color. Light primer makes the exact same color paint lighter.

You might start with a single coat (or whatever depth color you choose) on the dark pieces and then apply several extra treatments to the lighter woods. But regardless of the type stain used, I would absolutely start with wood conditioner. Softwoods are prone to blotchy- period. The stuff is easy to use; almost like water to apply. And it will help immensely with whatever evening out the stain you apply (oil based).

Another $000,000,000.02 worth of advice,
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post #6 of 7 Old 07-01-2020, 10:50 PM
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That grade of fir will tend to blotch and have much different absorption rates. If you are looking for an even finish I would seal everything with a good quality shellac. You are usually best off mixing your own. Don't be afraid, it is very easy. Dissolve the flakes in denatured alcohol according the instructions. For the color I would tone the wood instead of staining. Toning is the process of adding color to either shellac, or your clear coat, usually with analine dyes. The upside is you can build your color to the level you like and the color will be very consistent. The only downside is there can be very slight muting of the grain, but I really have not experienced that unless going very dark like a cappuccino.
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post #7 of 7 Old 07-02-2020, 07:01 PM
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I built my kitchen cabinets with Douglas fir. I used garnet shellac and they came out great. I bought the flakes and mixed myself. 10 coats. Then poly finish. It did take a bit of practice using a rag/pad to apply.

I tried different stains and non blotching stuff and conditioners and nothing looked right.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg E4C601FE-E531-4D00-B4AE-9DA246D3882C_1593730833298.jpg (260.1 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg A8A73380-3C2C-4EC1-B2FE-3EB7E7502567_1593730959093.jpg (306.3 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg 59AFD205-F79B-48A9-BC6C-C379DC5A97CA_1593731219620.jpg (288.5 KB, 6 views)
File Type: jpg 587F0373-BD5E-4E6B-A974-66450803ED86_1593731261139.jpg (390.1 KB, 6 views)
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Last edited by mattswabb; 07-02-2020 at 07:07 PM.
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