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Finishing Furniture with Different Woods.

1207 Views 2 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  wseand
I have been doing a lot of Refinishing/Refurbishing older furniture 1920s through I'm guessing 70s. Most of this stuff is Laminated on tops, sides, door fronts, etc. With that, most of the exposed/visible wood is the same material. It's the 10 to 30% of the other woods that is giving me trouble.

When I stain the wood it is so different in color variation that it is quite aggravating. The original stain on the furniture appeared to be much thicker I would say, or heavily pigmented. It almost looked like thinned paint, you could barley see the grain and it covered the variation in woods.

Original stain.
Brown Wood Automotive exterior Bumper Fender

After stripping and staining with Red Mahogany.
Hood Wood Motor vehicle Automotive tire Bumper

Table mid way through process.
Wheel Wood Rectangle Table Floor

Does anyone out there in Jockland have any ideas on the stain that was used. Also, any ideas of how to avoid or fix this problem. I am on the fence but I am pretty sure I hate Laminate now. I have never Laminated any furniture and I am pretty sure I never will now.


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I think that's just a combination of dark pigment stain and an older finish that's turned dark. If you've ever seen furniture with that opaque finish that has a spot that's been protected from sunlight, the protected area is often clear and not opaque.

It's also not the veneer that's causing the problem. A high end veneer job leaves people thinking that the project is made from solid wood because all the edging blends into the veneer.

Regardless, you'll need to use multi-step techniques to apply color if you're dealing with mismatched woods. A spray setup is also necessary for the method of finishing I prefer.

First, end grain can be treated with diluted shellac to reduce absorbancy. This will keep it from getting too dark.

Next, the various colors can be moved closer to each other by spraying the entire piece with a very light dye. Some people use yellow but wood-tones work too. This color won't darken the piece or change the color a lot but it does trick the eye into thinking the different types of wood have a similar base color. Spraying works better than wiping for this.

The next step is to apply a pigment stain but not one dark enough to reach the final desired color. Seal that off with a single coat of the topcoat of your choice. This needs to be sprayed to avoid disturbing the underlying dye. The furniture should be very close to the desired color at this point but not darker.

Use a toner to spray the entire piece and bring it to the final color. You can selectively spray a little more toner on lighter areas to blend them in but don't go overboard. I like to use shellac for the toner if I'm using lacquer for the topcoat. This allows me to wipe off the toner with alcohol if I mess up without ruining the previous work. Just be sure the lacquer base coat is plenty dry otherwise the alcohol can damage it.

At this point everything should look good but you can always add one more toner coat and an additional topcoat if necessary.
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I really appreciate the info Jacob. I have started doing more Refurbishing to learn these exact techniques. I will do some more research on these techniques.

I really don't have a problem with Laminate, I have just spent a lot of time repairing it lately, Grumble Grumble.

Again thanks.

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