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Gray beech table

795 Views 12 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  bilyo
I'm about to start building a dining table out if beech.
My most usef treatment for beech has been Liberon Finishing Oil that I'm very happy with.

However. the oil leaves a natural glowing finish, with a redish tint to it.
My wife does not want that color in the living room. She say she would like it to be more in a grayish color. So now I'm looking for ideas about how to make the beech grayish in color.

Projects treated with Liberon Finishing oil:
Table Furniture Wood Floor Flooring

Building Wood Shelving Floor Flooring


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I would check out gray stains. Then a polyurethane finish for durability.

Test samples is obviously a requirement here.
Start with a different wood like white oak. It will be much easier to get the gray color you want.
Start with a different wood like white oak. It will be much easier to get the gray color you want.

- bilyo
Yeah, but Oak here costs it's wheight in gold, and I have buttloads of beech…
Tire Wheel Automotive tire Motor vehicle Automotive design

Wood Floor Gas Tints and shades Composite material


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White ash gives a nice grey & usually cheaper than white oak. If your significant other doesn't like the color, DON'T USE BEECH! Trust me, it's cheaper to BUY what they like or you'll NEVER hear the end of it. DAMHIKT
I like working with Beech but I have never tried staining it. However gray stain I have uses usually has what appears to be some "solid" color elements in so it should work on Beech.

I'm guessing Oak does not grow well in Norway.
You might try to "fume" it. Get some real ammonia (the kind that takes you breath away), build a plastic tent around the wood to keep the fumes in, put an open container of the ammonia, and leave it overnight. Of course try a test piece first. I did it with good results on oak, but my ammonia was diluted so it took a coupe days to get gray.
Then a clear finish without the relish tint…

It is a superficial finish, so be careful how you finish sand it - also on the test piece.
Reminds me of a Joke:
Hairstyle Vertebrate Human body Rectangle Organism

That's me, a little Son of a Beech! :)

I like working beech wood. European Beech has distinctive pink tone. American Beech is a boring cream color, without pink. Used both on my work bench, plus in many router bowls and cutting boards. Grain patterns are vague and boring. It takes stains and dyes, nearly same as maple. Boring Beech grain can hide figure easily, and occasionally will blotch when flood coated with stain/dye. Oil based stains have darker blotches than non-oil based.

The color achieved with Liberon Finishing Oil has more orange tones than I would expect from oil finish on beech. Could be due stronger pink that I see in imported beech lumber? Based on MSDS, I see Liberon contains; 50-100% Stoddard solvent, a drying agent, and metal salt catalyst. These are typical chemicals in a fast curing oil finish. Based on darker amber color and quick cure time; suggest it uses a polymerized tung/linseed oil, which is contributing to the darker reddish tone you like.

IMHO - Making a 'warm' cream/pink wood look like 'cool' grey color is going to be a challenge.
+1 Will need to use pigment stain.

As others mentioned above, best option will be one of the weathered look grey pigment based stains.
Minwax (Sherwin Williams) and Varathane (Rustoleum) both carry weathered look wood stains at big box stores in USA.
Top coating with floor rated varnish or polyurethane would provide durable table top protection. Have to keep the layers of floor coat minimized to 2-3 max as the silica additives used to make floor finish tough, can hide the grain if too thick. But, IMHO Doubt you will even notice on bland grain in beech lumber.

Best Luck on table project!


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Was curious and bored while backing up my dying phone SD card.
Went searching for education on wood coatings in Norway, hoping to make a better recommendation.

Dug through various online paint catalogs of finishes available in Norway; Malorama, MalProff, Owatrol Coatings, Norbond, TreStjerner, PPG/Sigma, Herdins, Osmo, Axalta, Tikkurila, etc. Found products similar to medicore big box store and retail brands found in USA. They are even located in 'big box' and hardware store chains, but with different names. :)

My personal preference for everyday dining table is hard durable 2 part finish, such as conversion varnish or polyurethane. For a gently used table, a spray lacquer would also work. These commercial coatings are not sold at retail. Finding commercial grade cabinet/furniture wood coatings of this caliper was a challenge online. Especially when reading via translator where lacquer and varnish translate into same word 'Lakk'? :-(0)
My only advantage is the SDS chemical CAS numbers are universal, and easily cross referenced.
Yes, I can be a chemical nerd and a Klutz.

- Sherwin-Williams Norway AS; but wood coating products available locally are not listed online. If you can get Sher-wood custom color mix stains, and conversion varnish; that would be a great choice.

- AkzoNobel uses the Zweihorn brand from Germany for many wood coatings in Europe, but closest listed distributor is C. Flauenskjold in Denmark. Have used Zweihorn coatings on a residence project in Germany once, and they are same as what I use in USA with different names.

- IVM/Mliesi wood coatings in Italy has distributors in Germany/Poland, but nothing in Nordic country. They are producing some of the most durable WB poly on market, and was hopping to find it.

- Found a company caller Tiller AS Trondheim. They carry AkzoNobel, just not sure which actual brands of wood coating. They also carry Tikkurila brand commercial wood coatings that is part of PPG Finland OY. Tikkurila has been making solvent finishes for decades, including 2 part conversion varnish that would be great for table top. Also found custom color mix stain where SDS is similar to NGR Dye stains from Mohawk in US.
If I lived in the area, would stop by Tiller AS - ASAP. :)

With any of the commercial wood coating suppliers: Ask for; clear grain fill vinyl sealer, transparent pigmented stain without carrier, plus a conversion varnish, or polyurethane top coat. Let the local experts help you select the right brand and solvent type for your capabilities. The result would be worthy of being sold in furniture stores, or gracing the cover of wood working magazine. :)

Can't spray or properly handle commercial finishes? OK, I give up.
After reading SDS and translated products pages, noted a couple of retail options for grey stain:

- Use a transparent floor oil (like TreStjerner Gulvolje?). Osmo has similar pigmented oils they suggest for floors. Then top coat with TreStjerner floor rated varnish or urethane. The top coats appear very similar to US Varathane floor coatings. Found Owatrol Coatings polyurethane called Ultimafloor, which would work as tough durable table top coating if you need table protection from kids.

- Another possible source for grey color is pickling agent; Herdins Järnvitriol. This would be similar to an a fume or chemical method mentioned above. The clear top coat Herdins Betslack reads similar to solvent based polyurethane in US (Arm-R-Seal by General Finishes); but I can't get English SDS to verify. Betslack might be acceptable for a table top finish, regardless of how you color it grey.

If you don't want durable film finish, then treat the table like a laminated cutting board, or solid wood countertop. Use a pigmented hard wax/oil blend. These are not too difficult to repair and/or restore as needed. I found several 'Norge' available brands of pigmented hard wax/oil, plus Osmo and Rubio for sale locally. Pick the one that has a color SWMBO desires, and you can both afford.

As with all finish suggestions: YMMV

Thanks for reading all the way to end. :)
Hope this helps.
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Whoo CaptainClutz, thats a lot of great info. I'm really impressed!

I have both the equipment and knowledge to spray paint.
These are veneered with walnut burl and clear coated.
Cabinetry Automotive tire Countertop Wood Kitchen

These are spray painted with solid color and clear coated.
Light Interior design Wood Material property Table

Wood Grey Audio equipment Circle Electronic device

I used Glasurit for those, but Glasurit is mainly for cars but works great for speakers. They are however buildt from «dead» wood (MDF and baltic birch veneer) and not hardwood, so not sure if it works good on hardwood.

Anyway, for the table I do not want a «hard finish». This isnbecause I want it to last and to be easy for me (and maybe others later on) to fix it if something happends, either due to normal wear and tear or if someone for example drops something om it.

I do not want a solid color. I want the wood and live/grains to show.
I know that beech does not have heavy patterns, but I'm will be building this using planks (3-4 long blanks for the whole top) and there are nice figures there that deserves to be shown - even if it is nowhere like a live edge walnut slab table.
(wify does not want live edges, if not I belive I have slabs I could have used).
Some of the material that I have actually has supricingly much patterns and color for beech…

This is an example:
Table Wood Rectangle Road surface Beige

Tiller AS is just a few minutes away from me, so I should drop by them. Nornound is also a supplier (not local, but easy available)å-naturecolor-nc-uo760-7030

I have also used Trestjernes, but just for smaller stuff, like this from the 2019 mallet swap:
Tool Wood Kitchen utensil Wood stain Hardwood

But it makes a solid film, in difference from for example Liberon oil.

A practical issue with the more industrial solutions is that I doubth they have color samples so that I can test first.

Osmo Hardwax Oil is gaining a lot of popularity here in Norway.
I do belive that I should be able to get color samples/tests locally for these brands:
- Osmo
- Herdings
- Liberon

I have used Osmo clear Hardwox Oil on this birch desk (I did not want to use Liberon as I wanted to keep it as light as possible) I build to have somewhere to work during the pandemi:
Wood Rectangle Composite material Hardwood Natural material

I'm however not 100% happy with it as it feels like the whole top has a semihard film covering it. May be that I used to much oil, not easy to know.

This is a desk for my daughters room. It is from beech and only threated with Lineron Finish Oil and a bit of Liberon Wax. It's has a very plecent surface to touch and seems durable enough.
Table Wood Rectangle Desk Flooring

Currently it seems like at least I have theese options to check:
- Color sample packs from Herdings, Osmo and Liberon
- Sell beech slabs/plank slabs and by oak
- Check out Tiller AS

(I'm looking into options for small scale lumber import/sale; that may broaden my options regarding what type of wood to use)


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Nice pics, and nice work. Random comments, based on latest information:

1) If you want a soft natural finish, select pigmented oil finishes carefully.
Many contain more than hardening oils, and can contain hard polymer or varnish (rosin/shellac) component.
Oil finishes containing polymers present challenges:
= Additional coats builds a thick hard film (like Osmo pic, this is common with HARD-wax/oil)
= Re-coating a pigmented varnish will put color on previous surface, not the wood. Results will vary from blotching, to less transparency.
= When pigmented hard oil is damaged, will see a large color variation that is hard to hide.

IMHO - The desired transparent grey color would be best done with stain, followed by a clear top coat. If want a pigmented oil coating, use a pigmented oil/wax blend without hard polymer additives to establish color, then top coat with a clear version of same oil/wax. The oil/wax blend will behave more like your Fiberon.

2) Have used automotive top coats on hardwood. It works, just like your speakers.
I am not afraid to use automotive clear on medium sized hardwood project, as long there are no sharp edges where cracks could form.
My personal issue with automotive paints on wood is cost. A cheap ~3yr clear coat cost $125, a ~5yr clear coat costs $200, and a lifetime clear coat can cost over $1000 per gallon. Color base coats are just as expensive. I can get a opaque pigmented solvent lacquer wood coating for < $45/gallon. Pigmented WB poly wood finish runs ~$100-$125/gallon. The new Italian 2 part WB poly are just as durable as an automotive clear coat. Why spend more money, for finish not designed for wood? The lower cost is also one advantage of using commercial wood finish, .vs. hobby/homeowner retail finishes.

3) Samples? You might be surprised by the commercial finish distributors.
Most can mix and sell pints for samples.
Have 2 of 3 independent coatings suppliers in town selling custom stains, and pigmented coatings; that will perform the testing for me. Can drop off some 4-6" sample pieces of lumber being used, and target color sample or color chart from competitor. And 1/2 to 3 days later, they have mixed as many samples as needed to produce the target color on the target wood. Will even top coat if needed. Pay more per gallon for custom matching service (unlike automotive paints) when the order is small, but it is usually free with 4+ gallon case box order.
Many commercial wood finish suppliers can load spray cans, just like the custom automotive folks. This makes it really easy to get custom toners that spray on and wipe down for glazed/layered effect.
IMHO - once you begin using commercial grade wood coatings, and experience the level of education and support available; you will stop visiting the paint isle in a big box store. With commercial suppliers expertise, there is no more guessing 'will this work?' in paint isle. They KNOW what works well.

4) Have seen interesting grain in beech, like your picture. Beech can be gorgeous.
But using these 'stump' end slabs with center pith on large table top can create warp/twist issues. I prefer to use straight grain lumber, or at least consistent grain boards; as it makes balancing the panel stress easier. Put that slab pictured on one side of table, and corner will lift/drop as the moisture level changes; thanks to huge difference in late/early wood distance across the board. Balancing large panel stress .vs. getting the best look; is always challenging compromise.

5) Stop thinking you need Oak lumber. You can stain Beech grey. Oak is nice, especially if quarter sawn; but it is not any better for table top than beech. Plus Oak as large porous grain, which will need grain fill if you want a smooth table top. Grain filling oak is lot harder than Beech. :)
If you do decide to import lumber: oak and oak shorts are nearly the cheapest lumber I can buy on east coast, next to Ash. Less than $2 bdft typically at wholesale. Could use a couple stacks of cheap oak to fill up space in your expensive walnut order to lower out of pocket costs to fill a container. :)

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Could you bleach it to lighten the color? Btw you can custom make your own grey stain with vinegar
Could you bleach it to lighten the color? Btw you can custom make your own grey stain with vinegar

- JCamp
You beat me to it ! I was going to suggest using some AB bleach to remove the natural pinkish brown color to make it easier to dye or stain it grey:
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