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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Couple of questions about a potential finishing sequence.

I'm building a computer desk out of douglas fir, trying to replicate the distressed look from the top two photos. Bottom photo is the wood I'm dealing with (in real life it's more bland). I'd like to use mostly water-based products to complete the project quicker and minimize chemical odors in the house.

Here's the schedule I'm contemplating (after sanding to 120 grit):



  1. Darken certain areas using a mist of vinegar + steel wool. I've done this before and don't think it will have any negative repercussions.....I guess I'll find out! :laugh2:
  2. "Medium Brown" TransTint washed over the entire surface- dissolved in water. Hoping that this neutralizes a subtle green cast the wood currently has, while also giving it some warm color without obscuring the grain.
  3. Thinned SealCoat brushed over the entire surface. To control absorption during the next step. Lightly scuff sanded.
  4. "Walnut" General Finishes Water Based Stain applied with cheesecloth to certain areas to impart a patina effect. This product is supposed to be similar in consistency to gel-stain.
  5. Satin EnduroVar- as many layers as needed. Using this specifically for it's chemical resistance to Windex and other cleaners.


First question is, do you think this sequence will "work" to get the desired end-result shown in the top two photos?

Second question is, what happens after five years in a well lit room? Does the TransTint fade into some unpleasing shade? If so, suggestions?

Thanks!
 

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In general, it's not advisable to use steel wool when using water based finishes. Little particles of the steel wool will turn into rust spots if trapped under the finish.
 

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Hi Tom - thanks for the reply. What you said about the steel wool jives with what I've read elsewhere. I did end up modifying the above sequence after it turned out way darker than expected.

What I ended up doing was:

1. Dampen surface with strongly brewed coffee (add tannins)
2. Dampen surface with vinegar + steel wool solution (one pad of 0000 soaked in 4 cups vinegar for one week, then strained through paper coffee filters to remove the bits of steel. This darkened the wood several shades.
3. Dry, then sand away most of the darkened surface, leaving only the imperfections darkened.
4. Topcoat with water-based polyurethane


In another thread I documented how I tried to re-introduce some rough texture with a wire brush, which ended up being more than expected after the clear-coat...but otherwise the finish turned out very nice (pic below).
 

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Hi Tom - thanks for the reply. What you said about the steel wool jives with what I've read elsewhere. I did end up modifying the above sequence after it turned out way darker than expected.

What I ended up doing was:

1. Dampen surface with strongly brewed coffee (add tannins)
2. Dampen surface with vinegar + steel wool solution (one pad of 0000 soaked in 4 cups vinegar for one week, then strained through paper coffee filters to remove the bits of steel. This darkened the wood several shades.
3. Dry, then sand away most of the darkened surface, leaving only the imperfections darkened.
4. Topcoat with water-based polyurethane


In another thread I documented how I tried to re-introduce some rough texture with a wire brush, which ended up being more than expected after the clear-coat...but otherwise the finish turned out very nice (pic below).
Looks good!

On soft woods, I usually do all the wire brushing by hand, pretty much just like scuff sanding wood with 320 grit paper. It doesnt take much to open up the grain.

On harder woods, or if I need to really open the grain on soft woods, I use a wire brush with a drill and go with the grain.
 
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