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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am making some bookshelves for my home office from oak and oak plywood. Those were not my original choice of materials and I have already made a couple of shelf units that are on the walls from prefinished shelf boards that have the appearance of a light wood finish. I did this to save time and because I hate painting, staining, varnishing, etc. I think they were trying to make them look like some kind of wood that was just varnished, not stained. Now I can no longer get those prefinished boards (Chinese factory fire?) so I am trying to make the plywood shelves look as much like the existing ones as possible.

I tried just applying a polyurethane varnish to the oak plywood, but it is too light and it needs to be just a bit more yellow/orange in color. Not a lot, just a bit. I bought a can of Minwax Golden Oak stain, #210B. It is the best match I could find at the local hardwares and probably the lightest stain on their shelves. Here you can see a test. The unfinished oak plywood shelves are underneath. The square board is a scrap of the prefinished shelving boards that I am trying to match. And the right end of the oak 1X3 has been stained with the Golden Oak but no top coat. I brushed it on as light as I could and wiped it down vigorously almost immediately after that. I did not wait even one minute: they say to wait 5 to 15 minutes before wiping it.



You can see the unfinished oak is too light. The Golden Oak is just too dark and also too brown. It needs to be lighter and more yellow or orange.

What are my options? Every stain that I have says, "Do Not Thin!" Can they be thinned anyway? Can I mix some color with that stain and thin it? Is there a source for custom stains, like custom mixed paint colors?

Or am I just stuck with this? These shelves will be on the other side of the room.
 

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ee
I am making some bookshelves for my home office from oak and oak plywood. Those were not my original choice of materials and I have already made a couple of shelf units that are on the walls from prefinished shelf boards that have the appearance of a light wood finish. I did this to save time and because I hate painting, staining, varnishing, etc. I think they were trying to make them look like some kind of wood that was just varnished, not stained. Now I can no longer get those prefinished boards (Chinese factory fire?) so I am trying to make the plywood shelves look as much like the existing ones as possible.

I tried just applying a polyurethane varnish to the oak plywood, but it is too light and it needs to be just a bit more yellow/orange in color. Not a lot, just a bit. I bought a can of Minwax Golden Oak stain, #210B. It is the best match I could find at the local hardwares and probably the lightest stain on their shelves. Here you can see a test. The unfinished oak plywood shelves are underneath. The square board is a scrap of the prefinished shelving boards that I am trying to match. And the right end of the oak 1X3 has been stained with the Golden Oak but no top coat. I brushed it on as light as I could and wiped it down vigorously almost immediately after that. I did not wait even one minute: they say to wait 5 to 15 minutes before wiping it.



You can see the unfinished oak is too light. The Golden Oak is just too dark and also too brown. It needs to be lighter and more yellow or orange.

What are my options? Every stain that I have says, "Do Not Thin!" Can they be thinned anyway? Can I mix some color with that stain and thin it? Is there a source for custom stains, like custom mixed paint colors?

Or am I just stuck with this? These shelves will be on the other side of the room.
you might try some pre stain to keep the stain from soaking in as much, and the golden pecan is a little lighter than golden oak.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Lowes had a better selection of the stains than my local hardware. I looked at the Golden Pecan and it was a bit lighter, but I noticed one called Natural, #209. It is the lightest stain in the bunch and it is a bit on the orange side so I got a can. I tried it on the oak and it is not an exact match, but from five feet away, it looks very similar.

After my sample patch dries I will apply a top coat and see how that changes the color. With a little luck it will become more orange and match even better.

I still wonder if it really could be thinned and if so, with what? Mineral spirits? Or...?

Thanks for the help.
 

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I would like to add

You do know to sand the wood down to the finest paper before applying stain? When choosing stain we know the grain of the lumber will be the darkest part of the finished product. So when choosing stain we look at the lightest stain we can find and we are able to use darker stain if that isn't dark enough.
The sample you gave doesn't appear to be sanded. and the grain seems to have had puddles in it.
What we do is to apply the stain to a rag and then wipe that rag over the wood with a light touch so the liquid stain won't be pushed into the grain. The harder we rub the rag the more liquid will be forced into the grain making that darker look,
If we want the grain to be really light we use a wet rag in one hand and a dry one in the other wiping the stain with the first hand and then wiping it off with the other hand.
The lighter we want the wood to be the DRYER the wet rag is.
I hope this helps.
Big Jim
 

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I don't think you can ever get your match starting with Golden Oak stain.
The original color looks to be more of a grey or milk-wash finish.
I suggest you start with a grey stain or a grey oil based paint and thin with mineral spirits to try and match. Use scraps or the backs of material to get the correct blend.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Jim, yes I did sand down to 220 grit as suggested on the stain's label. I was working on the side of the 1 by that was rougher and will wind up being the back, inside the base, so it will not be visible. I'm not sure what you are seeing when you say you see puddles. There is the grain which is lighter and darker as all wood grain is and there are a couple of knots in that area. Perhaps that is what you are seeing. I applied the stain with a brush and almost immediately wiped it with a rag. I rubbed hard to remove as much stain as I could and it was only slightly damp to the touch within less than a minute of being applied. I don't think I could work any faster. I used a brush as I was afraid if I tried to wipe it on with a rag it would take longer and be darker and uneven.

I did the adjacent area with the Natural stain and it is a lot closer to what I want. It looks good after I applied a clear top coat. It does not match perfectly, but I have to get on with this project so I am going to call it quits at this point and just do it. As I said, these shelves will be on the other side of the room from the originals so any difference will be less noticeable.

Toolman, so you have thinned stains. That is part of what I was originally wondering. They all say not to thin it on the labels. But apparently this can work. Are there any special precautions if you do that?



You do know to sand the wood down to the finest paper before applying stain? When choosing stain we know the grain of the lumber will be the darkest part of the finished product. So when choosing stain we look at the lightest stain we can find and we are able to use darker stain if that isn't dark enough.
The sample you gave doesn't appear to be sanded. and the grain seems to have had puddles in it.
What we do is to apply the stain to a rag and then wipe that rag over the wood with a light touch so the liquid stain won't be pushed into the grain. The harder we rub the rag the more liquid will be forced into the grain making that darker look,
If we want the grain to be really light we use a wet rag in one hand and a dry one in the other wiping the stain with the first hand and then wiping it off with the other hand.
The lighter we want the wood to be the DRYER the wet rag is.
I hope this helps.
Big Jim
 

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lcohol
I am making some bookshelves for my home office from oak and oak plywood. Those were not my original choice of materials and I have already made a couple of shelf units that are on the walls from prefinished shelf boards that have the appearance of a light wood finish. I did this to save time and because I hate painting, staining, varnishing, etc. I think they were trying to make them look like some kind of wood that was just varnished, not stained. Now I can no longer get those prefinished boards (Chinese factory fire?) so I am trying to make the plywood shelves look as much like the existing ones as possible.

I tried just applying a polyurethane varnish to the oak plywood, but it is too light and it needs to be just a bit more yellow/orange in color. Not a lot, just a bit. I bought a can of Minwax Golden Oak stain, #210B. It is the best match I could find at the local hardwares and probably the lightest stain on their shelves. Here you can see a test. The unfinished oak plywood shelves are underneath. The square board is a scrap of the prefinished shelving boards that I am trying to match. And the right end of the oak 1X3 has been stained with the Golden Oak but no top coat. I brushed it on as light as I could and wiped it down vigorously almost immediately after that. I did not wait even one minute: they say to wait 5 to 15 minutes before wiping it.



You can see the unfinished oak is too light. The Golden Oak is just too dark and also too brown. It needs to be lighter and more yellow or orange.

What are my options? Every stain that I have says, "Do Not Thin!" Can they be thinned anyway? Can I mix some color with that stain and thin it? Is there a source for custom stains, like custom mixed paint colors?

Or am I just stuck with this? These shelves will be on the other side of the room.
You could use NGR stain mixed with alcohol, but that is not the way I would try. Take some dewaxed shellac and wipe on a thinned coat let it dry and mix to your liking a color/colors of Minwax stain. All this on scrap pieces to start with of course. The shellac will keep the grain from getting too dark. What you are trying to do is very hard to get a match that's perfect without spray equipment:yes:
 

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Toolman, so you have thinned stains. That is part of what I was originally wondering. They all say not to thin it on the labels. But apparently this can work. Are there any special precautions if you do that?
Stains or paints can be diluted. Thinned down. Use paint thinner with an oil based stain or paint but not with water based or latex.
Think of a cup of coffee for example. The coffee is the pigment to give the dark rich color. As we add more water, the color lightens up.
The color in your picture did not come across as a brown tone. It had a grey tone. Greys are made from basic white with a little black added.
You start with the color that's close and then experiment to reach a satisfactory color. If you start with a brown tone, as you dilute the stain, it will keep its brown tone. It will just lighten as you dilute it.
Mix very small amounts for your sampling, stirring thoroughly to get a well blended mix.
If you have a small board the color you want, you can take it to a paint store and match it to their color samples. If you buy a small can of the paint sample, you can mix thinner liberally to make your matching stain.
Good luck to you.
 
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