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Thread: suggestions for matching existing cabinets

  1. #1
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    suggestions for matching existing cabinets

    Finishing is probably my least favorite part of a project and I try to stick with a a one size fits all type solutions, consequently this one has got me stumped. I have a relatively older kitchen cabinets to which I want to make some additions. Trying to add bookshelves at both ends of the island. The wood looks like plain old Red Oak to me, but also mixed in is birch ply which is stained to look like red oak. So I went to HD and got me a can of red oak and tried it on some of the shelves I took off (so the wood is the same). Well its not even close, slightly redder and much darker. The picture below will probably not come out well on a computer screen, but I wanted to ask what is a typical approach one would take if you are trying to match an old finish whose source you do not know.

    IMAG0121.jpg

    When I look at this image online it looks darker than the actual color
    The means by which an end is reached must exemplify the value of the end itself.

  2. #2
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    Did you at least figure out what finish is on the cabinets?
    Wood: a fickle medium....

    Did you know SMC is user supported? Please help.

  3. #3
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    Mix stains and practice on scrap. Over and over.

    You said "So I went to HD and got me a can of red oak". Does that mean MinWax "Red Oak" oil based stain?

  4. #4
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    the finish is lacquer, that I am sure of because it comes off with lacquer thinner.
    The means by which an end is reached must exemplify the value of the end itself.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zahid Naqvi View Post
    Finishing is probably my least favorite part of a project and I try to stick with a a one size fits all type solutions, consequently this one has got me stumped. I have a relatively older kitchen cabinets to which I want to make some additions. Trying to add bookshelves at both ends of the island. The wood looks like plain old Red Oak to me, but also mixed in is birch ply which is stained to look like red oak. So I went to HD and got me a can of red oak and tried it on some of the shelves I took off (so the wood is the same). Well its not even close, slightly redder and much darker. The picture below will probably not come out well on a computer screen, but I wanted to ask what is a typical approach one would take if you are trying to match an old finish whose source you do not know.

    IMAG0121.jpg

    When I look at this image online it looks darker than the actual color
    That's actually a very nice piece of birch, great grain and pattern, though not oak like of course.

    The problem you run into when matching different species of wood of course is the grain and natural color differences. In most instances it is necessary to first match the lightest background color you can visually detect in the existing oak finish. That will be your ground color on which to build the remaining color[s].
    After achieving a close base color look, then after it is well dried and hard a secondary stain can be put upon it. Normally this is best accomplished by achieving the ground color with a very diluted dye if it's a light color or more concentrated if darker. Then a pigment stain can be applied over this. Some may choose to do it directly over the dye, but best advice is to first seal it in and then apply the pigmented stain so that if to dark or to light or needing more red/yellow/orange/black/ etc. it can be easily wiped off the sample [and samples are a must!!!] and the color adjusted to the best look and match you are able to obtain.

    Off the shelf stains rarely work if ever in matching up differing species or colors of woods.

  6. #6
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    I too recommend using a dye to get the base color then use a gel stain to work to your final color. Sealing the dye is a good idea then you are using the gel stain as a glaze coat.
    water soluble dyes are easier to work with when you are using dye for the first time. They give you more time to work with the dye. Alcohol dyes dry very quickly and can easily show lap marks, even when sprayed.

    REMEMBER that your final color will also be influenced by your final top coat so don't leave that out of your sample steps. Trick I use ---- > put a few coats of the final finish on a piece of glass then you can just lay it on top of the sample to see the color shift it produces.
    Scott

    Finishing is an 'Art & a Science'. Actually, it is a process. You must understand the properties and tendencies of the finish you are using. You must know the proper steps and techniques, then you must execute them properly.

  7. #7
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    I think I am getting close

    So after some alchemy and trial with dyes this is what I ended up with. Look at the sample stick against the cabinets. Interesting thing is as I move the stick around two colors stand out as good matches, second from left and the right most. It's either the lighting or the difference in how the stain was originally applied but it seems various locations in the kitchen have subtle differences in color of wood. The right most patch looks the closest match against dark areas and the second from left patch in lighter areas.

    IMAG0123.jpgIMAG0122.jpg

    I have applied Deft brush on lacquer as the top coat to get the full cycle. But I was surprised at how much the Birch soaks up finish despite having applied wood conditioner before applying stain. I applied three very wet coats, the first two got fully absorbed in the wood. I am wondering applying a spray lacquer is a smart choice on Birch. Any ideas with regard to applying the lacquer top coat? How about if I apply a couple layers with brush and then make the final coat a spray finish.
    Last edited by Zahid Naqvi; 04-30-2012 at 7:06 PM.
    The means by which an end is reached must exemplify the value of the end itself.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zahid Naqvi View Post
    So after a alchemy and trial with dyes this is what I got for now. Look at the sample stick against the cabinets. Interesting thing is as I move the stick around two colors stand out as good matches, second from left and the right most. It's either the lighting or the difference in how the stain was originally applied but it seems various locations in the kitchen have subtle differences in color of wood. The right most patch looks the closest match against dark areas and the second from left patch in lighter areas.

    IMAG0123.jpgIMAG0122.jpg

    I have applied Deft brush on lacquer as the top coat to get the full cycle. But I was surprised at how much the Birch soaks up finish despite having applied wood conditioner before applying stain. I applied three very wet coats, the first two got fully absorbed in the wood. I am wondering applying a spray lacquer is a smart choice on Birch. Any ideas with regard to applying the lacquer top coat? How about if I apply a couple layers with brush and then make the final coat a spray finish.
    I think i see what your talking of as to color, the more red places. That may be due to an alcohol dye that has faded on most of the finish but still seen in those areas, or as you say the lighting if spot lighting is used such as halogen VS say florescent or a mix of other lighting, from the reflection of the one pic of a bowl light i can guestimate it is probably or maybe normal incandescent lighting which may be the main problem though, am i correct? Incandescent always adds red to viewed objects. If you have other lighting there also, turn the bowl light off and see if the red disappears or not ok? That will give you an answer to that being the cause for sure. If this is not the case, then it maybe other things also but hard to determine from or by pics alone, at least with my eyes,lol. as

    to your matching of the browner parts or most of the area your in the ball park, i would leave it up to you to decide after all the coats are applied as whether your satisfied with the final look.

    As to the soaking issue, for the job i would recommend using either zinsser sealcoat for the first coat to stop the soaking problem, or a deft sanding sealer will work also. This will give you hold out [a barrier that will not allow so much soaking to happen] so that the slower drying deft coats will not be able to soak in as much ok?

    Spraying the last coat or all the coats will give you best results for sure!!

  9. #9
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    Sheldon the bowl reflection you see is actually a window behind me when I was taking the pictures, both pictures were taken in day light and no artificial light. Cellphone camera I guess. I want to use the spray option because no matter how careful I am I can never get rid of brush strokes when applying lacquer. Sanding sealer sounds good, although I have read that Shellac works as a very good sealer itself.
    The means by which an end is reached must exemplify the value of the end itself.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zahid Naqvi View Post
    Sheldon the bowl reflection you see is actually a window behind me when I was taking the pictures, both pictures were taken in day light and no artificial light. Cellphone camera I guess. I want to use the spray option because no matter how careful I am I can never get rid of brush strokes when applying lacquer. Sanding sealer sounds good, although I have read that Shellac works as a very good sealer itself.
    Then i can only guess that it is a color problem due to either faulty color work and or application by the manufacturer if it has been there all along.

    Either will work but i favor the shellac myself, even though it does not sand as easily as a dried sanding sealer does, to me it gives better hold out.

  11. #11
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    Deft lacquer is not going to be the most durable finish. Varnish is more durable unless you use a pre-cat or post-cat lacquer.
    Scott

    Finishing is an 'Art & a Science'. Actually, it is a process. You must understand the properties and tendencies of the finish you are using. You must know the proper steps and techniques, then you must execute them properly.

  12. #12
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    Scott, what do you suggest as a source for lacquer. I choose Deft because I do not have an HVLP sprayer so any spray option I use has to come in a can, Deft is just more easily available through the Borgs.
    The means by which an end is reached must exemplify the value of the end itself.

  13. #13
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    how much area are you actually finishing, how many Sq. Ft.?
    Last edited by sheldon pettit; 05-01-2012 at 10:11 PM.
    Sincerely,

    S.Q.P - SAM - CHEMMY.......... Almost 50 years in this art and trade and counting...

  14. #14
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    Roughly around 45 square foot including all shelves and back panels.
    The means by which an end is reached must exemplify the value of the end itself.

  15. #15
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    I'm not sure what Scott may suggest, but if i were in your position i would at least try minwax fast dry poly cans,i've had very good success with them at home. The only problem being it will take just as many cans of that as deft cans basically, but the time saved in sanding out brush marks, if using brushing ploy, well takes care of that aspect. In comparison for my Son, i have sprayed what would be equal to 2' by 8' of trim with two coats of fast dry sanding 320 in between for a decent look, could surely have used another sand and re-coat, but this was 1/4 round baseboard trim. for you i would figure at least 3-4 cans per 16 sq. ft. which would be around a dozen cans or so. Or all toll, maybe a hundred bucks or so in cans. If that's doable, i would at least buy a can and try it out ok? Spray the backside of a panel to get a feel on how far you can get as per coats per can and do the math from there.
    Last edited by sheldon pettit; 05-02-2012 at 5:27 PM.
    Sincerely,

    S.Q.P - SAM - CHEMMY.......... Almost 50 years in this art and trade and counting...

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