Stickley / Jeff Jewitt Arts and Crafts Finish

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Blog entry by pintodeluxe posted 04-15-2013 01:24 AM 40877 reads 32 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I wanted to recreate this Jeff Jewitt finish from Fine Woodworking #157, however the article didn’t list which formula was used. I consulted with Jeff, and it was Transtint Brown Mohogany dye, followed by McCloskeys Walnut stain. McClosky no longer makes stain, but sold to Valspar / Cabot.

So I set out to make a sample board to achieve the rich, dark color I was after.

The top colors are stain only, the middle colors are dye first then stain, and the bottom color is dye only. Transtint Brown Mohogany dye was used for all samples, per the original Jewitt recipe. The brown dye does pop the grain, but not in the “day-glow” fashion that a yellow dye will. For some projects I want to accentuate the grain, but I don’t want it to look neon. Topcoat is lacquer.

The stains used from left to right are Minwax Dark Walnut, Varathane Dark Walnut, Old Masters Dark Walnut…

... And Cabot Dark Walnut, and a 50/50 mix of General Finishes Antique Walnut and Java.

- Three more samples, all dyed first. Top board dye + shellac topcoat (all other sample boards are topcoated with lacquer). Middle board dye left, dye + Rodda #19 right. Bottom board dye left, dye+ General finishes Antique Walnut right.

Transtint Brown Mohogany Dye mixed 1 oz / 1 Quart distilled water.

I also did a matching sample board on red oak. Results were very similar, but the figure was less pronounced.

These samples are stain only, then topcoated with lacquer. They are nice, but not quite as rich as the dyed samples. The figure is much more subtle without the dye.


The original sample is on white oak. From darkest to lightest color… General finishes mix darkest, then Minwax, Varathane, Cabot, with Old Masters the lightest color. The pre-application of dye yielded a warmer, richer, and darker color. Very pleasing to the eye, and it does really accentuate the figure. I decided on the Varathane because we are matching some existing furniture. The General Finishes Antique Walnut looks instantly aged, and would be a good choice as well.


Speaking of white oak, check out the stack of quartersawn white oak I got on Saturday. Air dried for three years. 5/4 and 8/4 thickness. 350 b.f. for $125.


I think I am going to need more stain.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

14 comments so far

View groovy_man_6's profile


148 posts in 4460 days

#1 posted 04-15-2013 01:59 AM

Fan freaking tastic!!! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your careful finishing experimentation.

I really enjoyed reading this post, as it very much made clear how to get that rich arts and crafts coloring

Funny enough I’ve been using the trans tint dyes coupled with stain for quite some time with great results. I originally started using it as a way to get maple to stain very darkly…worked like a charm. I typically use a four part finishing process, starting with the trans tint dye, followed by an oil based stain, and then either boiled linseed oil or tung oil, and finally polyurethane. I find that add the oil step really accentuates the grain.

Love your work BTW!

View Bigrock's profile


292 posts in 4423 days

#2 posted 04-15-2013 02:08 AM

You are one lucky guy. I sure wish I could run up on a deal like that.
Good luck on Finishing. I think it is very hard to get the color you want all the time. I think it is partly the wood, the weather, the air pressure, the dyes, the shop conditions and the finishes and they keep changing the formulas.
Have Fun

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8594 posts in 3443 days

#3 posted 04-15-2013 02:18 AM

Where in the world did you get all that oak for that price??

Thanks for sharing buddy. I’ve also gone to some crazy lengths to get the A&C finish I wanted. Once I made a huge sample board with all sorts of dye and stain combos. In the end, the one the wife and clients like best….the stinkin easiest one: watco dark walnut danish oil followed by wipe-on poly.

I’ve read some folk don’t want the ray and flecks to “pop” as much because that would be more true to fumed oak. If that’s the case, I’m not going for the fumed look. The whole reason I’m using quartersawn is because I want the rays to pop!;-)

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View Brandon's profile


4382 posts in 4412 days

#4 posted 04-15-2013 02:31 AM

Thanks for this and you suck on account of that QSWO! Really.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Luke's profile


290 posts in 4147 days

#5 posted 04-15-2013 02:51 AM

Super jealous.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6543 posts in 4274 days

#6 posted 04-15-2013 03:01 AM

The qswo is from Colton, OR. It has some great figure, and the homeowner did a great job milling, stacking and stickering it. A little extra drying in the DIY kiln and it will be ready to use.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View bondogaposis's profile


6183 posts in 3812 days

#7 posted 04-15-2013 03:40 AM

I think you have waaay too much QSWO, you need to send some my way, pronto. Thanks for posting on the stains, very helpful and timely as my next project is w/ QSWO.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4795 days

#8 posted 04-15-2013 10:04 AM

Great blog! The tragic part for me is that since I live in Norway, I don’t have access to any of the products you show here, so I have to try to find equivalents. That’s not easy as very few people here outside of manufacturers seem to be much into finishing, which means that most stores don’t have a wide range of finishing products. Nevertheless, I feel that I learned a lot from your blog and at least have some principles to go on. Thanks for sharing your finishing skills with us.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Kyle's profile


112 posts in 4104 days

#9 posted 04-15-2013 02:48 PM

Does your wood fairy have that much cherry for about the same price? Nice score! I can’t wait to see the next blog.

-- Kyle

View Robb's profile


660 posts in 5394 days

#10 posted 04-16-2013 03:52 AM

Favorited. Great scientific approach to getting the finish color you want. I admire your tenacity. Thank you for sharing!

-- Robb

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5342 days

#11 posted 04-16-2013 08:35 PM

What a wonderful post.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View AandCstyle's profile


3306 posts in 3717 days

#12 posted 04-20-2013 11:16 PM

Willie, thanks for sharing all your work. It is a great resource. As has been previously mentioned, you suck! Can you tell that I am jealous? LOL

-- Art

View pintodeluxe's profile


6543 posts in 4274 days

#13 posted 04-25-2013 12:09 AM

Here are some pics of a completed project using this stain-over-dye technique. For this chair I used Transtint Brown Mahogany dye, and Varathane Dark Walnut stain. It came out a little darker than the sample, however I like it. Maybe next time I will seal before the stain to allow more control of the color. In actuality though, the dye was darker than I expected.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Nels's profile


50 posts in 3089 days

#14 posted 01-11-2014 01:27 PM

I see I’m a little late to the party, but I’m amazed how trial and error seems to end up in the same place. I used a lemon yelllow and mixed it with a transfast orange dye. The stain I used to top it was a McCloskey stain that was discontinued, so I went to Miniwax Dark Walnut. I’m currently making 15 chairs that are very similar to the ones you built. I’m putting on

hollowed out wood bottoms and only have done one (the prototype 3 years ago). Attached is a project that I did several years ago, but it shows the stain coloring. All my stuff is QSWO.

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