A Deep Red Mahogany Finish

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Blog entry by thewoodwhisperer posted 02-17-2010 05:35 PM 6569 reads 7 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A deep red mahogany finish doesn’t have to be the result of a complicated process. I’ll show you how I use a simple two-step method to revitalize my mother in law’s old beat up rocking char. First, a coat of General Finishes Merlot Water-Based Dye. Second, a coat of General Finishes Brown Mahogany Gel Stain. Its all finished off with a nice satin lacquer topcoat.

Topics Covered:

  • Application tips for water-based dyes
  • Application tips for gel stains
  • The concept of layering colors

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-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out

14 comments so far

View Charles Mullins's profile

Charles Mullins

94 posts in 4322 days

#1 posted 02-17-2010 05:48 PM

Hey Whisper!

Great save on the old rocker and a good looking finish.

(Good tip too!)

-- God makes the wood beautiful--I simply rearrange it to make it more useful, hopefully.

View eddy's profile


939 posts in 3975 days

#2 posted 02-17-2010 06:14 PM

thanks for the info. again you have been very helpful

-- self proclaimed copycat

View Icemizer's profile


88 posts in 4150 days

#3 posted 02-17-2010 06:15 PM

Great tip on the dye and the gel stain. Heres an excellent site on making your camera safe for bad weather or in your case spraying of laquer.

-- Say what you mean and mean what you say.

View gbear's profile


528 posts in 4710 days

#4 posted 02-17-2010 06:22 PM

Wow…great timing Marc. I am rebuilding a couple of rockers which were being tossed out but ended up in my shop. I have been trying to figure out what to do for a finish and this gives me some great ideas. Nice presentation, thanks for the posting.

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

View thewoodwhisperer's profile


605 posts in 4795 days

#5 posted 02-17-2010 06:23 PM

hey thanks guys! You know the one thing I neglected to discuss in the video is pore-filling. I didn’t do a pore fill on this piece because I was using a satin lacquer. If I were trying to go for gloss, a pore fill would have been essential. Just want to make sure that’s out there before anyone starts to wonder. :)

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out

View Rogue's profile


260 posts in 4081 days

#6 posted 02-17-2010 06:51 PM

Mark, I do alotta laquering, the front of my shop is where I end up doing alot of my spraying due to the weather outside. But where ever I am inside or out I get that air flow by setting up a box fan in front and behind me. One blowing at the project and one blowing away. As long as I spray the piece from one end to the other I never have over spray problems. Also I wanted to share with you the laquer I use. Its called Deft Iron Coat. Its a self sealing pre cat so on most woods its a two coat application. More purus woods like alder, poplar, pine, ext. I might put on an extra light first coat. Check it out, its a great finish!! They also have a killer exterior water base called Geo-link that is awesome of outside stuff. Thanks for the vid man, love your stuff.

-- Rogue

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18794 posts in 4287 days

#7 posted 02-18-2010 04:49 AM

Right on time!! I just got some mahogany to play with ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Mike's profile


255 posts in 3994 days

#8 posted 02-18-2010 04:55 AM

Heh Mar,

As always really great work. I have used the General Finishes before and like them very much

-- Mike, VT

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4284 days

#9 posted 02-18-2010 06:13 AM

Great ifo thanks, for sharing.

View RobS's profile


1334 posts in 4917 days

#10 posted 02-19-2010 07:39 AM

Great video and restore Marc. Funny, I looked at the pictures before I watched the video and was gonna comment about the dog seeing a ghost in the chair or something..(it looked scared) then in in the video you indicated that Lexi did not like it.

Sometimes these saves/restores can give you that same level of satisfaction as an entire new project can. Thanks for sharing. Rob

-- Rob (A) Waxahachie,TX

View jeff_wenz's profile


152 posts in 4161 days

#11 posted 03-01-2010 06:06 PM

Is cherry a dark enough wood to use this technique with similar results?

-- Jeff, North Carolina

View thewoodwhisperer's profile


605 posts in 4795 days

#12 posted 03-01-2010 06:11 PM

You’ll have to run a test piece to see the affect of the color, and you may want to try a few variations, but yes, you should be able to use this same process with great results on cherry. Remember that cherry is going to darken naturally over the years and on its own will get rather dark (and incredibly beautiful). So you have to think about no only what the piece will look like now, but how that color change may affect the piece over the years. So I would recommend taking the final piece out and letting it sit in the sun for several days. That will speed up the darkening process. Then you can start testing your dye/stain combinations. With a nice dark base color, you may not have to add so much color.

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out

View Angela's profile


205 posts in 3507 days

#13 posted 09-09-2011 12:28 AM

Great video but I have a couple of questions.

You mentioned in your notes later on about pore filling. At what point would you have done this? For oil base filler would it be after the staining?

Also after the water and sanding what did you use to remove the dust from the chair before staining?

It was recommended to me to use a 1 pound cut of de-waxed shellac before using anything on ithe item first then staining it then fill it. What would the shellac do? Would this help, hurt, or no differences.

I hope you have time to answer these questions.

-- - Helping other woodworker's

View thewoodwhisperer's profile


605 posts in 4795 days

#14 posted 09-09-2011 01:16 AM

I would have probably done the pore filling right after sanding and before applying the color. I would likely have used Timbermate because it is water-based an it readily accepts color after it dries. I think that would have been the simplest solution.

For dust removal, I will usually use a vacuum with a brush attachment to remove the bulk of the dust.

As for shellac, it depends. Shellac inhibits absorption of color. So if you add shellac first, your color is going to be significantly lighter. I would only use shellac first if you don’t intend to color the wood, or if you are using a toner or gel stain, or some other coloring agent that doesn’t rely on absorption quite as much for it to work properly.

But as always, try these things out on test pieces if you can. Ultimately, that’s going to not only tell you what things are going to look like but it better prepares you for the process you’re about to undergo.

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out

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