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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

I am new to wood working. I was trying to find a cabinet that would fit in my closet to house all of my networking and audio equipment. Unfortunately I wasnt able to find anything that would fit. So now I have decided to build my own cabinet. I have bought a couple sheets of 3/4 birch plywood. I have created my plans and about ready to start cutting them out.
However I am looking ahead and thinking I want to stain this cabinet black. I have done a lot of reading and see that Birch wood can be hard to stain a dark color and can be bad with blotching.
I read an older post that recommended using Charles Neil pre-conditioner. So I have ordered some of that.
Can someone please recommend a black stain product. But I am not sure if I should use oil based, water based, dye, etc? I looked at my local Home Depot and didnt see anything that I thought would work. Just looking for some direction. Thanks!
Images attached is a sketchup I made and the design layout I have in my head.
 

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CharleyL
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Why stain? A sprayed black acrylic paint would produce a better finish and be much easier to apply. Black staining is very difficult to apply and get an even result.

What are your plans for covering the edges of the plywood? Raw plywood edges never look very nice. Some strips of soft maple (similar color and grain structure to birch) glued onto the end grain of the plywood would improve the appearance. I've even done this to birch plywood stained cabinets with light color stains.

Charley
 

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Nine Thumbs
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Painting and staining result in two very different finishes. Paint lays on the surface, while stain penetrates deeper. Staining naturally allows the grain structure to show. It also allows for a range of hues and color depth, depending on how many applications and application method.

I stain almost every piece of furniture I build for the man cave black. It contrasts well with the medium grey walls and color popping bright paisley sound panels and the artwork on the walls. My entertainment center, record storage cabinet, CD rack and dry bar are crafted from red oak. Black stain on the open grain of the oak is quite striking and adds to the overall look of the piece.

Birch wood does not have the same open grain structure, so it will not show as much of the surface as the oak, but it probably would turn out just fine. I would not recommend paint.

I use Minwax products almost exclusively simply because of their availability. I have been satisfied with their wood conditioner, and I’ve used both separate stain and poly as a finish, and also stain/poly combination (they call it Polyshades). Separate staining and then topcoating has the advantage of letting you “show” as much or as little of the brown wood as you like. Polyshades will produce a dark, almost black finish on the first coat.
In your case, without an open grain structure, I’d probably go with wood conditioner and then use Polyshades black: https://www.lowes.com/pd/Minwax-Pol...ed&gclid=CMO8lu6EoukCFaOVxQIdA9YLGg&gclsrc=ds . I also prefer a satin finish over a glossy tone.

Now my disclaimer- finishing wood is an art if you want a project you can truly be proud of. You can slap a coat of anything on the surface and call it a day. Or you can carefully prepare your surface, learn and understand how your finish is going to act off the brush or nozzle (do a test piece), use quality brushes and cleaners, follow the recommended steps in between coats (light sanding, steel wool, etc.), and in general just take your time. I say this because I have literally ruined projects because of failing to follow the preceding sentence. An example is that polyurethane of any brand will not take kindly to thick coats. It WILL run. Therefore it is wise to apply it in very thin coats, scuff lightly between coats, and apply many coats. So even though I recommend the product above, your results may vary from mine.

Bottom line is that I will almost always recommend stain/topcoat over paint… unless it’s on a car. Then paint usually does a better job. Just sayin…
 

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Why stain? A sprayed black acrylic paint would produce a better finish and be much easier to apply. Black staining is very difficult to apply and get an even result.

What are your plans for covering the edges of the plywood? Raw plywood edges never look very nice. Some strips of soft maple (similar color and grain structure to birch) glued onto the end grain of the plywood would improve the appearance. I've even done this to birch plywood stained cabinets with light color stains.

Charley

My first thought also.
 

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Termite
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It's pretty easy of you spray it.....But we'll have to see if he/she comes back.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I appreciate everyone's feedback. I am really looking for the best process to make this piece come out a piece of art. I realize its just an audio cabinet, but I will be seeing it a lot. Eventually it may be a piece that sits in my living room. I like the idea of seeing the beautiful grain being shown. I hadn't really considered spraying painting it. I am afraid black spray paint would just turn it into a black box with no character. I am all about going the easy route, but at the same time I want it to look good.
 
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