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Hey everyone,
I'm not all that new to woodworking, but very new to finishing. I've used pigment stain from Home Depot before with reasonable success, but am undertaking a fairly major project, and was hoping to solicit advise before getting started.

I have my grandmother's cabinets that are really stunning antiques, and although I love them dearly, the finish has faded a lot, and at the same time, my wife and I are looking to modernize a bit. In keeping with that, I'd like to go black with the cabinets, but at the same time be able to keep the design and figure of the wood, even if slightly less prevalent as a result of the color choice.

The cabinets on the doors in front have what almost looks like a parquet pattern, and I don't want to lose it, as I think it's quite charming. That in mind, I've read that a pigment stain will just leave me what'll look like black paint. I've seen several recommendations of Transtint dye, but know very little about it other than having read that alcohol mixed with it will help me avoid lifting the grain.

With all that in mind, I'm assuming I need to sand the existing finish, and will do so carefully as the pattern I'm assuming is a veneer. My question first, is this the best route to go (i.e. strip and use black dye mixed with alcohol), or is there a better approach? Second, what's the best way to apply, keeping in mind that I've never used a spray gun before (but do own a compressor).

I'd be truly heart broken if the cabinets were ruined, but can't stomach the 2K a local refinisher was asking (even half that would break the bank).

Any insight would be enormously appreciated. Thank you all ahead of time!
 

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What I like to do is stain a piece the majority of the color with a pigmented oil stain. Normally after you stain a piece some of the wood is lighter than the bulk of it. I like to use a dye and shade in the light wood to match the rest of it before topcoating. With dyes you can use multiple layers until you reach the color you need.
 

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Since I'm using a black stain, will a pigment oil stain cover the pattern? I'm a little concerned in using a pigment stain, myself having tried dark grey before on a different project and lost all the figure of the wood, I would think black to be even worse...have you ever tried this technique with a black or ebony? I could give it a go on the back of the piece to test the theory, but would I be better suited just to do multiple coats of dye?

Thank you for the feedback, definitely gives me something to chew on.
 

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The only problem you might have with a black pigmented stain is it may not darken as much as you want. If that happens you could spray a black dye over the top to supplement the color. Definitely try the stain on the back first to see what will happen first.

Using dyes only may not achieve the look you want. Since it is very superficial it tends to give the wood a more plastic appearance. I think you would be happier using both.
 
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