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I've been desperately trying to find MY recipe. I was recently sent PopularWoodworking.com's recipe for J.E. Moser's Golden Amber water-based aniline dye topped with Lilly Professional Glaze "warm brown", possibly also sold by Valspar or an WoodFinishingSupplies.com. I'm coming up with zilch on the glaze. Please point me in the right direction. I'm making a whole dining room suite and I'd like as authentic, deep, rich, antique, reddish-brown finish as possible. The photo in the article looks EXACTLY like the finish I want.

If you've got another Stickley finish, I'd love to see it. I've tried TransTint Dark Mission Brown, Reddish Brown, Red Mahogany topped with clear shellac and General Finishes Antique Walnut.
 

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from what ive read stickleys finish formula was ammonia fuming and if the color wasnt right he would use brown aniline dye to even the color then he used white shellac and wax. not sure why its such a mystery
 

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A good friend and LumberJock Dusty has created a 12 step process for his mission furniture. He posted it in this blog You can check on Dusty's projects some of the items that have been created with process.

Good luck.

One of the links in that post was to Jeff Jewitts site. The address has changed and the article is newer. Here is the latest
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the feedback. I've fumed my tabouret tables and it's a very unpleasant process. I've actually been thinking about fuming the dinette set and renting a storage unit for the process. I've still got almost a gallon of 29% anhydrous ammonia. A Valspar rep contacted me, so after I check out the above links, I'll see what they've got.
 

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just out of curiousity what exactly is the finish you are looking for? what i mean is if you look at real stickly furniture you will notice that the pieces have a wide range of colors and tints. im guessing mostly from the fuming process not being an exact science, however the "stickley finish" i always see in the magazines never quite looks like the real finishes on his furniture. i made some small tables out of red oak and used minwax red oak stain and satin poly and it looks just as good as some of the "authentic" finishes ive seen in the magazines
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Good stuff above. I've seen Dusty's finish and I've read the Jewitt article. None of Jeff's finishes are exactly what I want. Incidentally, they look a lot like the samples from one of the vendors at the SF Arts & Crafts Fair we went to on Saturday. Most of Dusty's stuff is red oak, so it wouldn't be quite the same finish on QSWO. I also noticed that Dusty doesn't use a glaze, but layers his finish with contrasting aniline dyes. If this works for him, then more power to him (he's a lot more advanced than I am). Most of the other finishes I've read use a base coat of dye, sealer, then a glaze and clearcoat. I know I'm being OCD, but as you all well know, the finish can make or break a piece, and I'm tired of regretting finishes, especially since I'm embarking on larger projects.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
M ynew buddy at Valspar said that they can't legally do anything to reproduce a Stickley finish, which I totally understand. He did offer to match anything I sent him over the internet, which is probably a doomed proposition, send me swatches of what they produce, but since the finish that I'm looking for is a compound finish of at least two differenct colors (dye base and glaze topcoat) that's pretty iffy. He also offered to try to match anything I sent him, but if I could make it, I wouldn't need him to match it. In the end, I sent him the popwood.com article I was trying to match and I busted out all of my TransTint dye's and went over all of them with General Finishes Antique Walnut, trying to find something suitable. So far, the Reddish Brown #6003 with the glaze best suits my taste. It's got the red undertones and the rich brown surface I'm looking for. With that being said, it doesn't grab me as my true finish, so I'll still keep looking. Regardless, I have to give the highest marks to Valspar's customer service. This kind of help is unfortunately rare in the real world, but exactly what I would expect from fellow woodworkers.
 

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First a suggestion, Lockwood makes a fumed ammonia dye as well as several others. http://www.toolsforworkingwood.com/Merchant/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=toolshop&Category_Code=CLW
S

Second a question/ tip. Have you tried putting a dark wax on top of your finish. That will fill the pores of the oak and cause quite a lovely contrast. Check out my blog on how I finished my Stickley pieces.

I personally find many of the so called "authentic" finishes too red. I am also wary of the dye's fading. I have a friend who owns a commercial piece that was dyed. One side which receives sunlight from a window, is completely faded. So I like the idea of staining it.

You should note that with regard to Dusty's 12 step finish, he begins with red oak for the most part.

Good luck.
 

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Thanks! I really appreciated your blog. I'm trying to avoid fuming if possible. I fumed red oak and wasn't happy with the results (even though I was told I wouldn't be ahead of time). I'm still working with Bill at Valspar. He's been extremely helpful and the only issues we're having is the subjective idea of what an "authentic" finish is. For legal reasons, he can't do some things that could be construed as Stickley.

I actually almost bought some Briwax the other day. I thought it might be worth a try. I think I'll get some distilled water (I've been using isopropyl), Antique Oak glaze, amber shellac, and some dark wax and do some more test pieces.

I like the red, but it doesn't look as authentic to me. We've been to a lot of furniture shows. So far, my browns have been brownish-green, so I was hoping the red would reduce that effect. I puckered up when I realized alcohol-based dyes fade. I did our entire bedroom suite with TransTint Reddish Brown in alcohol. Luckily, it's always dark in there.

Here's a screen shot of what I'm going for:

 

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Here are a couple of non-LJ recipes that I've collected:

Father-in-law's:

Step 1 - I started with a water based aniline dye from TransTint (maybe available at Woodcraft, but may have to be mail ordered). I don't know the color without looking at what I have, but I can get it. That was diluted with 1 part dye and 1 part distilled water. Rubbed on with a sponge. Be sure and use latex gloves. This doesn't come off your skin.
Let dry overnight.

Step 2 - A coat of blonde shellac, 1 lb. cut (which means 1 lb. of shellac to 1 gallon of alcohol). I usually mix a quart of alcohol with a 1/4 lb. of shellac flakes. I usually put this on with a cheap natural bristle throwaway brush, but you have to be careful to pull the bristles out of the finish before it dries. Let dry overnight.

Step 3 - A coat of gel stain. I mix 1 part of Antique Oak gel with 3 parts of Fruitwood gel (I need to verify this). The gel stain is from Lowes or Home Depot. Can't remember the brand either, so will have to get this. It's the most common stain brand they carry. This is put on with a small piece of sponge, dipped in the gel, rubbed on, then wiped off with a paper towel. Be sure and use latex gloves. This doesn't come off your skin. Let dry 24 to 48 hours.

Step 4 - Brush on a coat of clear finish with a good brush. I've used shellac, but that mirror frame has two coats of water based polycrylic.
If water based, use a good synthetic bristle brush. If oil based or shellac, use a good natural bristle brush. If water based, you can recoat in a few hours. It needs at least two coats of clear finish.

That's my process. Labor intensive and not cheap. If you're still interested, I can find all the exact names and ratios.

TreeFrogFurniture's:

Wipe a good coat of dye on, for this piece I chose Transtint Medium Brown dye in water, be sure to cover all sides and keep dye from puddling in corners and at base. Leave to dry for at least 24 hours.

Lightly sand to remove raised grain with 220 grit, avoid oversanding especially at corners and edges.

Pad on a 1LB cut of amber shellac or sanding sealer.
Using a 320 grit sanding pad gently rub surface, clean with tack cloth or vacuum.

Apply Brown Mahagony Gel stain being careful to not cover too large of an area because once dry its very hard to wipe off. Once the gel starts to haze rub it off with a clean lint free cloth, I prefer old T-shirts. This gives you a warm rubbed in look. Let dry overnight.

Pad on 2-3 2LB cut coats of amber shellac, I tightly fold a square of T-shirt material, then soak it in the shellac and squeeze out excess, rub it in until it starts to drag then let dry. The coat of shellac should dry in 30 minutes or less. Repeat until you get the build you want.

Again, using 320 grit sanding pad gently rub surface, clean with a tack cloth or vacuum.
Take a few minutes to go over the whole piece with your clean hand, checking the surface for any rough areas or holidays.

Using a clean square of T-shirt rub in a thick coat of Watco Dark Liquid wax. Avoid plain or light colored waxes as these may leave white residue in the pores of the oak. When the wax is dry buff it out with a clean square of T-shirt.

Let the wax sit and "harden" for a few days then its ready to take in the house.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I just read Eric's link above. It's from Chris Schwarz from Woodworking Magazine & Robert Lang. Basically, this is their recipe:

Use Olympic Interior "Special Walnut" oil-based wood stain with a rag, saturating the surface. Let it sit for 15 minutes then wipe the surface dry. The next day, rag on one coat of Watco "Dark Walnut" Danish oil. Again, saturate the surface, let it sit for 15 minutes then wipe dry. The next day, rag on one coat of Zinsser's Bulls Eye amber shellac.
 

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Greene & Greene Finish by Darrell Peart (fellow LJ's blog):

General Finishes dye stains come in several colors and can be infinitely mixed to achieve the desired results. I found that mixing 7 parts of their Orange dye stain with 4 parts of their Medium Brown Dye Stain produces a beautiful brown with orange overtones.
The dye stain is more user friendly than traditional (water base) aniline dyes. Whereas the traditional water base aniline dye would streak easily - the General dye stain does not streak nearly as much.
You will still need to raise the grain and scuff sanding with 320- grit. Three applications should produce the desired results although I would test first on scrap wood.

For the top-coat, as in my book, I recommend the 3-5 coats of General Finishes Arm-R-Seal satin.
Instead of the Bri-wax I used in the book, I now prefer Renaissance Wax. Use this stuff sparingly, not only because it is pricey, but because not much is needed for each application. Follow the instructions on the tin. Only do small areas at a time - if it dries and streaks before you can wipe it clean - use a little 0000-steel wool.
 

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i still think you should try the ammonia fuming on white oak followed by shellac. red oak gets a greenish tint when fumed so i could see why you wouldnt like the results but IMO if you want the authentic look, why not do it the authentic way?

also its said that if stickley wasnt happy with the fuming color he would use brown dye to get it the way he wanted. have you tried just a simple brown dye followed by shellac?
 

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Thanks for clarifying that gizmodyne! Speaking of mahogany, my buddy just bought a Martin backpacker guitar which is almost all mahogany.

Mike, ammonia fuming is one of the most unpleasant things I've ever done. I may very well fume my Limbert table, but fuming a complete dinette set is another thing. Before, I just draped a plastic tarp over my sawhorses and slid the tabouret tables between them. If I ever fume again, I will build a frame to attach the plastic around the piece. I have very critical neighbors and I don't want to fume them out. If I decide to fume the dinette set, I may very well rent a small storage unit for a month to do so. ToolsForWorkingWood.com has a series of dyes that emulate ammonia fuming. I'm also waiting to see what Bill at Valspar can come up with.

I've got several dyes and stains that I've made sample pieces with, coated in both clear and amber shellac. I've got a few that I'm relatively happy with, but I still want to experiment to try to find a finish that I'm completely satisfied with, without breaking the bank.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I made up the "Fumed Oak Dark" from Lockwood today. The powder was pretty red, but the stain turned out pretty greenish brown, just like everything else. I tried TransTint Reddish Brown + Dark Mission Brown + Amber Shellac (3lb cut) + Mission Oak gel stain + Dark Oak wax, and I was pretty happy with it. A nice brown with underones of red. I'd like to get that almost scorched brown look though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Speaking of Mahogany, I found a guy on CraigsList on the SF Bay area who's getting rid of a bunch of mahogany and spruce from a boat building project. I'm picking up $200 worth (approx. 30 bdft) this week. Aurora Table, here I come!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks Pat! I really enjoyed your blog. I think that conveying the mistakes we make is at least as important as our successes. I archived Dan's recipe. That's a nice finish.
 
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