Help with matching a stain

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Forum topic by bbsherman posted 07-08-2017 11:04 PM 670 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10 posts in 1253 days

07-08-2017 11:04 PM

Hi -

I am finishing a pine shelf unit. I have a similar one that I put a minwax stain and a couple coats of 100% tung oil on years ago. I don’t recall the stain color.

For the new one I thought I would try Watco Danish Oil. I chose dark walnut thinking that it would probably be different, but similar enough and would look nice. I sanded and applied a wash coat of dewaxed shellac. I put a thick coat of the Watco on one (large) side piece this morning and let it sit for 20 minutes or so and wiped it off. It’s much, MUCH lighter than I had hoped. This is dark walnut? The application was kind of a pain too. I’m super unimpressed with Watco danish oil after hearing so many good things about it. Next time I’ll go back to staining and then wiping on a home made tung oil/poly/thinner blend.

Now I have one (large) side piece a color I don’t like. I bought the minwax stain thinking I’d just sand that piece back and stain everything the color of the other unit and then apply some kind of finish. I bought “gunstock” thinking that’s what I had on the other one. Tested on a small scrap of pine. Nope—not even close—though it does go on dark unlike the Watco.

Any thoughts on color matching an existing stain color? I don’t really want to keep buying them until I hit the right one.

Any thoughts on Watco Danish Oil and what I can put OVER it to darken it. Or do I just have to re-sand?


5 replies so far

View wuddoc's profile


354 posts in 4321 days

#1 posted 07-09-2017 02:37 AM

You may want to use the Stain Finisher’s Color Wheel by Mohawk. You select the color on the wheel nearest to your existing color. You now have a starting point for obtaining the color you desire. You will have some tweaking to do based on the wood color and other variables.

-- Wuddoc

View Rich's profile


5134 posts in 1193 days

#2 posted 07-09-2017 02:40 AM

What pound cut of shellac? Could it just have been too heavy and sealed the wood too well for the oil to penetrate?

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View bbsherman's profile


10 posts in 1253 days

#3 posted 07-09-2017 02:37 PM

The color wheel is something I hadn’t seen before—thank you wuddoc—I’ll check it out.

RichTaylor – I did wonder about the shellac. I mixed it myself and eyeballed it but I aimed for 1lb cut at most. But I tried an un-shellaced piece of pine and got the same result. I also wondered if I didn’t mix the Danish Oil well enough, but more shaking and I still got that level of stain.

View bbsherman's profile


10 posts in 1253 days

#4 posted 07-09-2017 06:21 PM

Well, looks like you can’t sand off even one coat of Watco without gumming up sandpaper. It doesn’t look like there is much varnish on there, but I guess there is. Since I don’t want to chemically strip, a cabinet scraper seems to be doing a good job of getting me back to bare wood except for the corners and crannies.

View bbsherman's profile


10 posts in 1253 days

#5 posted 07-16-2017 05:58 PM

Went back and sanded/scraped off the danish oil on the one one piece I had treated. Picked up a Minwax stain and stained the whole unit and it came out just as I had hoped color-wise. Though in retrospect I would probably do a water or alcohol stain in the future on something like this.

I debated way too much about what to finish the piece with—I didn’t want to invest a lot of time in this basic, rustic pine unit. I ended up mixing in 1/4 satin poly to 3/4 of the Watco danish oil for a wiping varnish with more solids. It worked out very nice. It didn’t darken the existing color at all. One coat looked great for the side pieces. Two coats (and maybe 3) on the top of the shelves that will see more wear and tear. Overall, very happy with this as a simple, quick method to get good results.

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