Reply by JBrow

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Posted on Beginner needing staining advice

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1368 posts in 1840 days

#1 posted 02-19-2017 05:29 PM


I have concluded that finishing is a craft unto itself, and matching finishes in the absence of information such as the species of wood is even more of a challenge. For these reasons, I tend toward clear finishes which are much easier. But I share what I can conclude from my limited knowledge of staining and finishing wood.

When I look at the two shelves you posted, the left looks much nicer than the right. The wood grain and its features are easily seen. It is much more difficult to see the wood grain on the shelf of the right and the overall color is not uniform. I guess the shelf on the right is the subject of your questions.

To my eye the shelf on the right is blotchy. Pigment from the stain seems concentrated in various areas of the board while other areas retained too little stain, even though Mimwax Pre-stain conditioner was used. OSU55 blogged about staining and his methods for controlling blotching. His post strikes me as authoritative and may be helpful to you…

Wood magazine published an article that deals with blotching. It too may be helpful…

Searching the web for blotch control when staining wood will bring up many other articles.

Ideally, determining the species of wood that you are re-finishing would be extremely beneficial. I think the effort to get a good enough finish match of the table top to the rest of the table and chairs will require a fair amount of trial and error experimenting. It may be that you have sanded through the veneer and thus your efforts would be trying to match a different species of wood (the substrate of the top) to that used on the chairs and the rest of the table. No matter, having unfinished boards of the same species as the top would be very useful for dialing in the products and the best method for their application to get that match you are after.

There are some clues that may help you determine whether the top was originally veneered or whether the top is solid wood. If the table top was veneered, there is likely an edge and end treatment that was installed to hide edges of the surface veneer. If the profile around the table top is a square edge profile (rather than a more elaborate profile like an ogee or even round over profile) the edges and ends could have been edge banded with a thin veneer. The veneer line should be visible. The substrate would have likely been MDF, Particle Board, or plywood. The MDF and Particle Board substrate would be readily apparent and since you did not make mention of these, you either did not sand through the veneer or plywood is the substrate. Some guesses as to the face veneer of the plywood are maple, poplar, or perhaps birch.

If the edge has an ornate profile and the top was veneered, the edge banding is more likely to be a strip of solid wood of some width. The corners of this wider edge banding were probably mitred at the corners.

If the top is solid wood, either bread board ends were installed on the ends or the end grain of the solid wood would be visible. If bread board were installed on a solid wood top, it is likely that the ends of the bread boards do not perfectly align with long edges of the top.

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