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I've been around finishing most of my life (35 years in const) and had some sort of shop for 10 years. I retired 5 years ago and set up hobby work shop in a old tac room in barn. I saw and asked questions on every finish I ever saw that were new to me. But!! now that I'm building some furniture pieces the finishing work is harder than it looked when pros even in cabinet shops made it look!! I had some old beverlys stain around and started finishing a piece and whoops I ran out ! After research found that it's now ULG's ZAR brand. I brought a can home and low and behold it was a perfect match to antique can I'd been using! I love this stuff as I can sand OAK to 320 !! and rub this stuff on and even out until I get just the look I want (number of coats varies). I've used most of brands comsumers can get hands on and only one comes close to ease of use is Pratt & Lambert stain. I've seen some furniture mfg's and they use coatings made just for them just as car mfg's do.
 

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You really lucked out. Usually with stains stored for lengths of time, some solvent evaporates and the recipe will change. For those that do a lot of staining and finishing, favorites play into their choice with particular brands and types. Even with experience, testing on samples can save the day. The testing shouldn't just be limited to the coloring, but whatever topcoat will be used. When dry the color will look different.

There's been times when I've done special mixes for a project that can vary wildly with changes to the variables of the mix. Using cooking measuring spoons to get exact mix ratios allows the ultimate mix to match the test mix. This is helpful when that stored jar of the "perfect" stain is no good, or not available.






 
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