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Discussion Starter #1
I working to build up a countertop made from walnut. The trouble i have, is after planing I have one board i like and two others that are too light (as far as I can guage). We're wanting to get a more even coloring across the countertop and was wondering how might we go about this. Do people usually apply a stain and then the finish, and if so, is there a good stain recommendation? I've tried the darker walnut from minwax but it seems too dark. The look we'd prefer to try and get is this, or this (the top photo). I've tried to take a picture to show the variance in what we have unfinished.

The middle board (which is the darker of the three) will start to be less consistent as I still need to plane a little more and looking from the side, the sap wood is going to start showing through soon.
 

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I working to build up a countertop made from walnut. The trouble i have, is after planing I have one board i like and two others that are too light (as far as I can guage). We're wanting to get a more even coloring across the countertop and was wondering how might we go about this. Do people usually apply a stain and then the finish, and if so, is there a good stain recommendation? I've tried the darker walnut from minwax but it seems too dark. The look we'd prefer to try and get is this, or this (the top photo). I've tried to take a picture to show the variance in what we have unfinished.

The middle board (which is the darker of the three) will start to be less consistent as I still need to plane a little more and looking from the side, the sap wood is going to start showing through soon.
first off if those were my board's i would get some blotch contorl and use that. Than use light walnut stain not dark. I use walnut all the time and the board's that you have look good that is the kind i like to get. But if you don't use some sort of blotch control they will look not what you want. I know i do this all the time. Watch this utube video with charles neil
 

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If it were me I would take the center board and move it to the left side where the grain and color match better. Then the board on the right I would turn it end for end and put it next to the board on the left which would then be the center.

Then for the finish after the top is glued and sanded, I would use a walnut pastewood filler to fill the grain and when dry lightly sand. Then if the color is still uneven I would mask off the dark board and spray the lighter wood with a walnut aniline dye enough to match the darker board. Then the top can be sealed and finished.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks guys!

Del, I had seen that video a while back. I have some MinWax prestain wood conditioner. Do you think that would work for me?

Steve, I looked into the paste wood filler. None of the stores i went to here had ever heard of it and everyone kept trying to sell me regular wood filler or saw dust sealer. I saw some online that I'll probably purchase. The guy I talked to at the paint store said I should probably stay away from aniline dyes. I finished planing the boards down and they seem to match better now. We tried the MinWax "special walnut" stain and that one seems to give a better color closer to what we're wanting.

Hoping to stain it today, but the glueup didn't go so well yesterday. So I may be redoing that.
 

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Thanks guys!

Del, I had seen that video a while back. I have some MinWax prestain wood conditioner. Do you think that would work for me?

Steve, I looked into the paste wood filler. None of the stores i went to here had ever heard of it and everyone kept trying to sell me regular wood filler or saw dust sealer. I saw some online that I'll probably purchase. The guy I talked to at the paint store said I should probably stay away from aniline dyes. I finished planing the boards down and they seem to match better now. We tried the MinWax "special walnut" stain and that one seems to give a better color closer to what we're wanting.

Hoping to stain it today, but the glueup didn't go so well yesterday. So I may be redoing that.
When finishing walnut and mahogany it is customary to fill the grain so you don't see the texture of the grain through the finish. The pastewood filler is an oil based filler you brush or spray on and let it set until it thickens. Then you rub it in a circular motion with a rag to rub it into the grain. When dry you lightly sand the surface to get any excess off and if done correctly the surface should be smooth as birch. To get this product you would have to order it or go to a professional finishing supplier. I have access to one of these places so I don't know many mail order places. The only place I know of is Garrett Wade Woodworking. They carry a wide range of professional supplies that you can't get at your local paint store.

An aniline dye is like ink. It is thinned down with alcohol or water and sprayed on at low pressure. Mixed for your needs it would just give enough color to balance with the darker board. It would be more like shading than actually staining the piece. It is very transparent and after the finish is applied nobody would know it was done. The Garrett Wade has it in powders where you would mix it with alcohol. What I use is Mohawk NGR stain. It's the same thing, it just comes premixed with alcohol. Furniture companies use this type of stain to even out the color. After which they stain with a normal pigmented oil stain.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks Steve, lot of good/helpful info!

Does aniline dye need to be sprayed on? I dont have a means to do that.

Does the paste filler alter the coloring of the wood, or does it just fill the pores and any other residue that's sanded off leave the wood back to it's original coloring?

I'm also wondering about the finishing/staining process. Is there a faster way to go about it. I figure if i stain one side, i'll have to wait a while for it to try and may get one coat of finish on there the same day, but if i need several coats of finish (taking 24hrs to dry), and on both side, i'll end up taking a week to finish the countertop. Is that just the way it is, or is there another way? I'm planning to use waterlox to finish.
 

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I looked at the two links showing the walnut tops. If you look carefully there is a difference in color in both links of a board or two. For some, seeing the natural coloring of wood how it exists in nature is important. For others, they might want all the wood to be exactly the same.

An A-2 walnut plywood may be flitched to closer matching. But, you want solid wood. You can use a paste wood filler, and a solvent based one works best. I don't try to thin it from the can to spray it. IMO, it works best when a spreader is used and worked into the grain. The filler won't do much for changing the color unless you tint it. Getting that right takes a little experimenting.

In getting a closer color match, you can use a thinned version of an oil base stain, to tone the colors together. Alcohol based dyes dry pretty fast, and could produce an overlap...depending on how fast you can apply. It shouldn't take much, if that's what you want to do.




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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Hmm, i replied to this earlier but i dont see it so i guess i missed something.

Thanks cabinetman. Can y'all advise me on the products i've found.

Two grain filler, both seem to be solvent based. One is clear and the other is walnut.

The stains i'm considering are MinWax Special Walnut i have or this walnut dye which i dont know much about.

In getting a closer color match, you can use a thinned version of an oil base stain, to tone the colors together
How do you thin out stain? do you add mineral spirits? Is that better than wiping it on and then wiping it off shortly after.
 

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d.

Two grain filler, both seem to be solvent based. One is clear and the other is walnut.

The stains i'm considering are MinWax Special Walnut i have or this walnut dye which i dont know much about.


How do you thin out stain? do you add mineral spirits? Is that better than wiping it on and then wiping it off shortly after.
For an oil base stain, just add mineral spirits to the stain. It can be wiped on. I would use solvent based products, not waterbased. The labels should be tell tale. I use this filler primarily. It comes in clear and in colors, and can be stained.

I mostly only use a grain filler when I need to get a super slick finish. For the most part, I like the feel of wood, and wood that's not overly finished.






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Thanks Steve, lot of good/helpful info!

Does aniline dye need to be sprayed on? I dont have a means to do that.

Does the paste filler alter the coloring of the wood, or does it just fill the pores and any other residue that's sanded off leave the wood back to it's original coloring?

I'm also wondering about the finishing/staining process. Is there a faster way to go about it. I figure if i stain one side, i'll have to wait a while for it to try and may get one coat of finish on there the same day, but if i need several coats of finish (taking 24hrs to dry), and on both side, i'll end up taking a week to finish the countertop. Is that just the way it is, or is there another way? I'm planning to use waterlox to finish.
An aniline dye would be easier to control if sprayed on because you can just keep layering it on until you get the color you want. It would take some tinkering to come up with the formula but it can be wiped on with a foam brush or rag. About the sprayer. If you have a harbor freight and their coupons, I think you could get a compressor, hose and sprayer for not much more than a hundred bucks that would fit your needs. Pastewood fillers come in different colors and if you use the natural it would look really bad on walnut. It would be almost like wiping white paint on it and sanding it off leaving white in the grain. The walnut colored woodfiller is what I would use and it does stain the wood. I use Mohawk brand and it would go well with minwax special walnut. You can even use the woodfiller as the stain and eliminate the minwax.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Ok, so on the backside of the countertop i applied waterlox in 1/3, then the stain over 1/3, and then a half-and-half stain with mineral spirits finish. I was thinking to go with the half and half blend, but I just put the MinWax prestain conditioner on the wood and i really like the way it looks when that is wet on it. Can I assume that if I just use Waterlox on top that it will look very similar if not the same as how the wood looks with the prestain conditioner on it (wet)?

Is there any harm in having the prestain conditioner applied under waterlox?

The photo with the sink holes is the prestain conditioner applied. The photo without sink holes is the back side with waterlox in the front, then the half and half, then the full stain. Sorr, it's hard to see the true coloration with the camera angle.
 

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If you're using a tung oil finish such as Waterlox I wouldn't use a wood conditioner. All I would do is use an oil stain with a small artist brush and color those sapwood streaks. As far as the pictures, on my internet I'm only getting the top 25 percent of the first picture. The appearance of the top side would look the same as what you have done on the bottom. I wouldn't wait too long getting the Waterlox on the face side. If it sets too long it will warp.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the response Steve!

I wouldn't normally have used a wood conditioner under Waterlox, but I put it on thinking I was going to stain the wood. However, when i put the conditioner on, I liked the way it looked. So i was thinking that is how it would look with just waterlox in which case, i'd be happy. I just wasn't sure if there was a problem putting waterlox on over the conditioner, but i'm guessing there's no harm there.

I dont think i trust my staining skills enough to selectively stain parts of the wood. I might try that on some of the scrap pieces I cut off and see if I could make it look nice and then be able to do it in the future. As I also wish this wasn't the first time I had to cut out sink holes:no:
 

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I dont think i trust my staining skills enough to selectively stain parts of the wood. I might try that on some of the scrap pieces I cut off and see if I could make it look nice and then be able to do it in the future. As I also wish this wasn't the first time I had to cut out sink holes:no:
You could make it look worse. The sapwood streaks IMO adds to the character of the wood.






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Thanks for the response Steve!

I wouldn't normally have used a wood conditioner under Waterlox, but I put it on thinking I was going to stain the wood. However, when i put the conditioner on, I liked the way it looked. So i was thinking that is how it would look with just waterlox in which case, i'd be happy. I just wasn't sure if there was a problem putting waterlox on over the conditioner, but i'm guessing there's no harm there.

I dont think i trust my staining skills enough to selectively stain parts of the wood. I might try that on some of the scrap pieces I cut off and see if I could make it look nice and then be able to do it in the future. As I also wish this wasn't the first time I had to cut out sink holes:no:
I don't think the wood conditioner will really hurt it. It just seals the wood to prevent the pigment from the stain to soak too much in the softer portions of the wood. What is likely to happen is the tung oil won't penetrate as well and may create a little more maintenance.
 

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In water/wet conditions I would be using a epoxy coating.
In time you will get moisture effecting what is done so far. Epoxy will at least plastic coat the thing.

The work you have done so far looks fabulous, but I would hate, long term to see it start being effected.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Hey Steve, I had called Waterlox and they said that their oil penetrates 80 times more than stain...or maybe it was 40. Either way they said it would prevent the oil from penetrating.

Thanks aardvark. Waterlox is made to seal out water...you don't think it will hold up as well as epoxy?

Thanks everyone for all the help on this subject matter! I just randomly came across this article and though it quite relevant and thought i'd post it here for anyone who's trying to get help on this in the future. http://www.woodworkerssource.com/blog/?p=747
 

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You could make it look worse. The sapwood streaks IMO adds to the character of the wood.









Easy fix, get some trans tint walnut or medium brown mix with water and or denatured alcohol, apply even let dry, lightly sand and repeat, stain with a light walnut stain and finish as desired. The dye will give you an even color source on the walnut.
 
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