Staining Doug Fir To Match Spruce - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 06-07-2018, 10:46 PM Thread Starter
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I am in the early stages of building a pub table for my basement. I’ve purchased a pre-made 30”x72” spruce tabletop. Since I want the table to be built for stout, I’ve chosen 4x4s for the legs and cross beams. Since pine is too knotty, subsequently not impervious to twisting and bowing, I went with doug fir. The doug fir has a pinkish hue whereas the spruce is white. For my stain I’ve chosen Varathane Carbon Gray which has a nice distressed wood look. I’ve stained some scrap pieces of the doug fir and some pine (close enough to the spruce). The stain looks really nice on both wood types, however, you can see that pinkish hue on the fir. Can anyone suggest how to alleviate this problem? I figure I have three options: take the spruce top back and try to get my hands on a doug fir top, try to alter the stain somehow so that there isn’t as much contrast, or wait for a while before I stain and see if the fir loses some of its pink hue (I don’t know enough about it to know if this will even happen).

I’d appreciate it if someone could offer some suggestions on making what I have work or a good source for a fir top. Thanks.

Last edited by Jon F; 06-07-2018 at 10:50 PM. Reason: Misspelled Some Words
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post #2 of 7 Old 06-07-2018, 11:19 PM
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Try the stain out on the underneath side of the top and see how it does. I don't think the pinkish hue will show up. If it does you can mix a very thin green dye stain to counteract the pink in the wood.

The biggest difference in appearance will be the grain. Douglas fir will be more striped then spruce and spruce will want to stain darker than the fir. You may have to thin down the stain on the fir to make them the same color.
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post #3 of 7 Old 06-07-2018, 11:37 PM
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You are about to learn a significant difference between Doug-fir and spruce.
You can see it at 100X in a microscope and when your stain has dried you will certainly feel it.

You will feel much more raised grain on the Doug-fir because there are cell parts which warp when wet.
"The spiral thickening in the S2 layer of the secondary cell wall." Those surface cells hook and stick up.

Any sanding at all shreds the wood surface. Thick shreds, thin shreds, all shreds.
Instead, cut off the raised grain, once and for all and get on with the finishing.

BullDog brand ( in Canada) makes several grades of steel wool.
The very coarsest is #4 or 0000 or 000, something like that.
The point is that the coarse steel wool has flat strands. Not round.
A soft scrub with a wad of that stuff works like a million chisels without abrading the stained surface.
A kind Journeyman Painter showed me that trick on Dougfir chair rail.
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post #4 of 7 Old 06-08-2018, 09:41 AM Thread Starter
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Steve & Robson,

Thanks for the advice. I've read about using green dye to counteract the pink. Would green food coloring work? If so, would you dilute first or put a drop directly into a small cup of the stain?
Thanks again.
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post #5 of 7 Old 06-08-2018, 03:21 PM
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I did some wainscoting for a customer who got a good deal on Hemlock , I used it for the rails and styles but used spruce for the panels. We took the samples to Richelieu and had them Colour match both to the floors. Here are some pictures of how it turned out. Staining Doug Fir To Match Spruce-img_1008.jpgStaining Doug Fir To Match Spruce-img_1019.jpg


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post #6 of 7 Old 06-08-2018, 07:16 PM
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Steve & Robson,

Thanks for the advice. I've read about using green dye to counteract the pink. Would green food coloring work? If so, would you dilute first or put a drop directly into a small cup of the stain?
Thanks again.
Food coloring would work initially but isn't very colorfast. I don't know if the pink would come back at a later date. It would be better if you could find some green ink. It wouldn't take very much. The dye should be about half the color of green coolaid. Better to be too light than too dark and if need be use multiple coats. You could also use transtint dye or what I use is Mohawk Ultra Penetrating stain. http://www.mohawk-finishing.com/cata...asp?ictNbr=178
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post #7 of 7 Old 06-08-2018, 07:37 PM
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I have yet to see a pink piece of Doug-fir. If that color is an anthocyanin, anything like the
pink of fresh-cut Western Red Cedar, it should oxidize to a wood brown in days, just like
all of my WRC carvings. I'd be willing to wait and watch.

Light-fast color pigments in the world of Fine Arts has been a puzzle for centuries.
Top professional brands of artist's watercolors ( daVinci, Windsor & Newton, Grumbacher)
have "color-fastness" charts which might be on line. Trouble will be the high price.
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