Results 1 to 8 of 8

Thread: Wanting a better finish on open grain wood

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    2,654

    Wanting a better finish on open grain wood

    Open grained woods like oak and ash stain unevenly, with the pores sucking in tons of stain and the rest almost none. This results in the grain really jumping out, not always what is needed. Filling the pores helps to dial this back but then the only way to add color is with a painted on stain which is not scratch or wear resistant. Applying a durable top coat leaves a very plasticky surface. (plasticy? whatever) Suggestions?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Michiana
    Posts
    2,954
    If I want muted grain on oak or ash I don't use stain. I've used dye with some success, and I've used ammonia fuming.

    Truth be told I really like grain pop in oak, specifically QSWO.

    Muted Grain (Fuming)



    Grain Pop (Dye and Stain)

    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    9,279
    I think your second photo speaks to Tom's point. Look at the dark/light contrast. If I understand Tom correctly, he wants a more uniform color over the entire piece.

    Tom, I had a similar issue as you described when I used a WB filler. It seemed like it sealed the non-porous areas so the stain wouldn't penetrate very well. I sanded it back to fresh wood and started over. I found that i had to sand it more after the grain filler had dried for the stain to be able to penetrate, not with a coarser grit, just more thoroughly. I had never had that problem when I used an OB filler.

    About your comment about painted on stain not being scratch or wear resistant. No stain is. No dye is. The are infinitesimally thin. The only thing that is scratch and wear resistant is the finish itself and when it gets damaged anything underneath most likely will be damaged, too.

    One way to get a uniform color is to fill the pores, apply a light dye that gives the underlying color you want, apply a wash coat of shellac, apply a stain, seal, apply a glaze or toner, if needed, and then seal and topcoat. You can even do it w/o filling the pores if you first seal the pores up with a couple of wash coats of shellac or other sealer, sanded back to open the non-pore areas to the dye, stain, etc. Or just seal, sand back, and then spray a toner to get the desired color, then topcoat.

    Good luck.

    John

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    2,654
    John what I'm going for is a natural feel to the wood. With Walnut or Sapele I apply stain to bare wood and topcoat with shellac. This is durable because the stain is absorbed into the wood. And it is easily repairable. I usually stain before all the woodworking is done then repair as needed. If the stain is damaged thru the topcoat a little stain wiped on will go right thru the damaged topcoat and into the wood.

    This approach lets me finish before final assembly and before hardware is installed or some details are added. If a tabletop needs poly that happens last.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    WNY
    Posts
    9,279
    Respectfully, Tom, stain sits in the pores and imperfections of the wood. It doesn't penetrate. Even dye only goes in a few mils. The process you described works for you, so that's all that matters, but those two woods have pretty uniform grain so they don't produce the deep contrast you are getting when applying stain directly onto oak. I think you'll either need to change your process or avoid using oak. With your current process, rift sawn likely would give you the most consistent color.

    John

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    2,654
    Yes you're right about Oak and my process. It's such a good wood and hard to quit on. It's a wood that demands very careful grain matching and stain just makes that more important. Unstained it's a simple process and that's my usual approach.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Michiana
    Posts
    2,954
    Quote Originally Posted by John TenEyck View Post
    I think your second photo speaks to Tom's point. Look at the dark/light contrast. If I understand Tom correctly, he wants a more uniform color over the entire piece.
    Agreed, and that's what I was trying to illustrate in the first photo. No stain = uniform appearance even in porous wood. I like fuming both Red and White Oak for that reason. It offers a nice soft color without popping the grain. The strength of the ammonia and length of time exposed will give you varied results from a mild tint to chocolate brown. There are plenty of SMC threads on the subject. I've also found that water or alcohol based dyes don't build up in pores either, as long as they are dilute enough.

    In my experience it's all about the suspended solids in the stain accumulating in the pores, nooks, and crannies. Sometimes that's the goal. Other times not so much.

    If you want Oak and Ash to be as uniform in color as something fine grained like Basswood, just bleach it. It will even out the color of the growth rings and leave the grain less pronounced.
    Sharp solves all manner of problems.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    NE Florida
    Posts
    276
    This video demonstrates a method of spraying dye to get even coloring on oak:


    https://youtu.be/RQuUfSoSWgQ
    Chris

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •