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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Steve, I am starting a project in a couple of weeks that will require staining a solid birch dresser as in the picture below. I searched this web site and found your comments in this post from 08-09-2012.

Your comments "Birch is one of these woods that stain blotchy so I would recommend using a wood conditioner prior to staining. Then I like to use a pigmented oil stain from Sherwin Williams. After the stain is dry I like to finish with Wood Classics interior polyurethane varnish from Sherwin Williams."

I am planning on using MinWax all the way – conditioner and stain and poly. Should this be an easy project to make happen? Thanks.

Gary
 

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I don't care for that type of finish that is on the dresser. If you are suppose to put it back like it was I think a better match would be a gel stain. If you are just going to refinish it with an oil stain be sure to make some samples or test the finish on the base molding before you do the entire piece. It would need a wood conditioner for oil stain however you might have to thin it instead of using it full strength or use a different wood conditioner altogether.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I don't care for that type of finish that is on the dresser. If you are suppose to put it back like it was I think a better match would be a gel stain. If you are just going to refinish it with an oil stain be sure to make some samples or test the finish on the base molding before you do the entire piece. It would need a wood conditioner for oil stain however you might have to thin it instead of using it full strength or use a different wood conditioner altogether.
Thanks, Steve. I have been asked to try to restore it to its original condition. I assume that I can thin the Minwax Wood Conditioner with mineral spirits. I have learned the hard way about testing and will follow your suggestion.

Gary
 

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Thanks, Steve. I have been asked to try to restore it to its original condition. I assume that I can thin the Minwax Wood Conditioner with mineral spirits. I have learned the hard way about testing and will follow your suggestion.

Gary
I think back when that piece was done they called the finish varnish stain. It was very similar to todays gel stain. If you are going to use the gel stain you may not need the wood conditioner as the finish mostly lays on the surface instead of penetrating like an oil stain. If you do use it, if it's the oil base wood conditioner you can tin it with mineral spirits or naphtha. Naphtha just dries faster.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think back when that piece was done they called the finish varnish stain. It was very similar to todays gel stain. If you are going to use the gel stain you may not need the wood conditioner as the finish mostly lays on the surface instead of penetrating like an oil stain. If you do use it, if it's the oil base wood conditioner you can tin it with mineral spirits or naphtha. Naphtha just dries faster.
Steve, I have now tried more than 10 different combinations of dye and gel stain and regular stain on my birch project. I cannot get the color anywhere near dark enough. Any simple suggestions?

Gary
 

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Can you post a picture of the current status of what you are doing? Did you use the wood conditioner or not? Assuming you are still working on samples try using the wood conditioner thinned 1 part conditioner to 3 parts what ever solvent it recommends. Then stain the wood to the majority of the color you want with an aniline dye. Then go over it with the gel stain to muddy up the appearance of it. You can alter the color of a gel stain with a universal tinting color if you need to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Can you post a picture of the current status of what you are doing? Did you use the wood conditioner or not? Assuming you are still working on samples try using the wood conditioner thinned 1 part conditioner to 3 parts what ever solvent it recommends. Then stain the wood to the majority of the color you want with an aniline dye. Then go over it with the gel stain to muddy up the appearance of it. You can alter the color of a gel stain with a universal tinting color if you need to.
Steve a picture of testing is shown below. I am having problems with depth of color (just not dark enough) and too much grain showing.

I will try your suggestions and hopefully move forward. Thanks.

Gary
 

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If I were making that look I would probably mix red oxide, yellow and black tinting color into water and use that for stain. The red oxide and yellow would be needed to make the orange color but it would probably be too bright so a small amount of black would be needed to tone it down. It's possible you might need yellow oxide too.


There may very well be some latex stains you could do the same thing but I don't do very much finishing that looks like that so I normally mix my own.


I keep this kit of different colors to modify stain. It's the same colorant Sherwin Williams has in their machines to mix paint put in Harbor Freight bottles for easy dispensing. Some paint stores sell tinting color already in bottles, one brand I used often is Cal-Tint.
 

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Is it possible to use a dye to tint the prestain conditioner and to possibly tint the first couple coats of varnish if the stain isn't dark enough?

I haven't tried this yet but am planning my strategy for finishing a maple project. I want it to be quite dark and am planning my tests to achieve the right color.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If I were making that look I would probably mix red oxide, yellow and black tinting color into water and use that for stain. The red oxide and yellow would be needed to make the orange color but it would probably be too bright so a small amount of black would be needed to tone it down. It's possible you might need yellow oxide too.


There may very well be some latex stains you could do the same thing but I don't do very much finishing that looks like that so I normally mix my own.


I keep this kit of different colors to modify stain. It's the same colorant Sherwin Williams has in their machines to mix paint put in Harbor Freight bottles for easy dispensing. Some paint stores sell tinting color already in bottles, one brand I used often is Cal-Tint.
Steve I have a limited supply of dyes and I will do some testing based on your input. Thanks.

Gary
 

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Dyes are more penetrating than the tinting colors. I think you would do better using thinned latex paint.

Mastjer:
Going dark after using a wood conditioner I would stain the wood close to the color you want with a dye mixed with alcohol spraying it. Then use the wiping stain to give it some warmth. A person can add a dye to a conditioner but you would loose the benefit of the conditioner. It is suppose to seal the soft part of the wood before introducing any dye or stain to the wood so if enough dye was added the wood could go blotchy. If the dye will suspend into your varnish then that could be done. That's basicly what a gel stain is is a varnish with pigments added to it. Mohawk Finishing Products makes a alcohol based aniline dye which I often add to lacquer for the purpose of tinting. The aniline dye powders can be used in the same manor and will mix with polyurethane. I haven't personally tried Transtint Dye in a finish but suspect it would work. Just put an ounce or so of varnish in a small continer and add the dye. If it works the dye will stir into the finish. If it doesn't the dye should settle to the bottom. I personally don't like adding color to the finish and only do that if I have the stain color a little off and using the tinted finish to change the hue. I use so little color that nobody even knows I did it. Sometimes the color needs a little more red or it's too red and needs green to counteract the red.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Dyes are more penetrating than the tinting colors. I think you would do better using thinned latex paint.

Mastjer:
Going dark after using a wood conditioner I would stain the wood close to the color you want with a dye mixed with alcohol spraying it. Then use the wiping stain to give it some warmth. A person can add a dye to a conditioner but you would loose the benefit of the conditioner. It is suppose to seal the soft part of the wood before introducing any dye or stain to the wood so if enough dye was added the wood could go blotchy. If the dye will suspend into your varnish then that could be done. That's basicly what a gel stain is is a varnish with pigments added to it. Mohawk Finishing Products makes a alcohol based aniline dye which I often add to lacquer for the purpose of tinting. The aniline dye powders can be used in the same manor and will mix with polyurethane. I haven't personally tried Transtint Dye in a finish but suspect it would work. Just put an ounce or so of varnish in a small continer and add the dye. If it works the dye will stir into the finish. If it doesn't the dye should settle to the bottom. I personally don't like adding color to the finish and only do that if I have the stain color a little off and using the tinted finish to change the hue. I use so little color that nobody even knows I did it. Sometimes the color needs a little more red or it's too red and needs green to counteract the red.
Steve I will test the adding of TransTint dye to a Minwax poly finish but would expect that it won't work because TransTint cannot be diluted with mineral spirits from what I have read.

... I tested adding TransTint dye to the MinWax poly and it did NOT work - the dye settled out as you suggested that it might

What about adding some Minwax stain to the Minwax poly to slightly darken a piece? Will that work?

Gary
 

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Rick Mosher
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Furniture manufacturers use multiple step finishes. Usually starting with a spray on NGR dye stain, then a wash coat of sealer followed with a spray on wipe off pigment stain. They will spray a full coat of sealer scuff sand with a scotch brite pad and then apply a glazing stain either to darken the corners or just to even out and add depth to the overall color. Those layers of color are what makes it look so even and allows them to use different cheaper wood species on lower visibility areas.

For your situation a glaze is not a good idea due to the urethane, the glaze would be a barrier coat and the urethane could peel off. Most glazes are done between solvent release type finishes (like lacquer and shellac) If you were to do all your coloring and then use wax free shellac (Seal Kote) you could apply a glaze and it would help even out and darken your finish. (You could use the gel stain as a glaze)

If this is something you are going to continue doing I would suggest getting a compressor and a spray gun. With a spray gun you can spray dye stain so it comes out perfectly even on the most blotch prone woods out there without a conditioner. When you wipe dye stain you push the color into the pores and the softer wood fibers which is exactly what makes the blotching worse, when spraying you can spray just enough dye to evenly wet the surface without puddling and there will be no blotching.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Furniture manufacturers use multiple step finishes. Usually starting with a spray on NGR dye stain, then a wash coat of sealer followed with a spray on wipe off pigment stain. They will spray a full coat of sealer scuff sand with a scotch brite pad and then apply a glazing stain either to darken the corners or just to even out and add depth to the overall color. Those layers of color are what makes it look so even and allows them to use different cheaper wood species on lower visibility areas.

For your situation a glaze is not a good idea due to the urethane, the glaze would be a barrier coat and the urethane could peel off. Most glazes are done between solvent release type finishes (like lacquer and shellac) If you were to do all your coloring and then use wax free shellac (Seal Kote) you could apply a glaze and it would help even out and darken your finish. (You could use the gel stain as a glaze)

If this is something you are going to continue doing I would suggest getting a compressor and a spray gun. With a spray gun you can spray dye stain so it comes out perfectly even on the most blotch prone woods out there without a conditioner. When you wipe dye stain you push the color into the pores and the softer wood fibers which is exactly what makes the blotching worse, when spraying you can spray just enough dye to evenly wet the surface without puddling and there will be no blotching.
Rick thank you for the detailed explanation. I was aware that a factory finish was multiple steps but did not understand it to the level that you explained. Duplicating these processes by hand surely seems unlikely. I must investigate spraying in more detail if I continue doing the number of pieces that I want to.

Thank you again.

Gary
 
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