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Why do you color wood?

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Forum topic by unclearthur posted 01-07-2020 07:40 AM 914 views 0 times favorited 33 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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unclearthur

383 posts in 2844 days


01-07-2020 07:40 AM

What motivates people to color wood rather than leaving it natural? I’ve only ever applied clear topcoats but recently have been reading about staining woods. And it made me wonder

Is it simply to get a different color?

Does the stain itself help enhance the grain or figure in the wood?

Or is it to match boards better across a project?

Or to match other pieces of furniture?

Or to imitate different species of wood?

Personally I sometimes am hacking together projects from different leftover boards which don’t match well (even if they are the same species) and I was thinking of trying to stain to improve consistency. But the whole coloring wood area seems fraught with pitfalls, and I was wondering the reasons people usually went that route.


33 replies so far

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Wildwood

2954 posts in 3191 days


#1 posted 01-07-2020 10:29 AM

Think only thing you missed enhance grain/figure in wood but sure there are more reasons to use stain.

To avoid those pitfalls have to know something about your wood species and the stain you select, some times pre-conditioner is required or will end up with blotchy mess.

Selecting the right stain for the project matter of choice:

Transparent allow grain & figure to show!

Semi-solid dry semi-opaque!

Natural Dye or Pigment offer wide variety of stains & colors.

Synthetic Dye or Pigment may result in more uniform, easy to apply stains or dyes compared to natural compounds.

Petroleum-Based-Solvents help mix stains & dyes evenly and aide in wood penetration (dyes) or thin pigment paints (stains).

Non-toxic-Solvents dyes & stains diluted with water or alcohol less harm to users & environment.

Matching dyes & stains to project just requires little thought before hand and not that difficult with all the information available today.

Good luck with it!

-- Bill

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ChefHDAN

1803 posts in 3906 days


#2 posted 01-07-2020 11:09 AM

Well, because if it’s for the house SWMBO said that’s the color she wants it to be. The fight doesn’t start until she wants it painted….

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

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BlueRidgeDog

787 posts in 836 days


#3 posted 01-07-2020 11:49 AM

I have seen “stains” used more for generic cheaper wood, trying to look like more exotic wood. If you start with Pecan, then there is no reason to color it. I put a light stain on my mission white oak work to emulate a “fumed” appearance so that it matches other pieces in that style.

Some also stain quality hardwoods in an effort to get closer to a wood that is hard to find. Some put a slight red on Sepele to make it look more like Mahogany.

Some stain or color due to the requirements of an Architect or Interior Designer, who has very specific goals of tone and outcome, often at the expense of showing the wood’s true beauty.

Finally, I do typically stain plywood backs so they don’t “stick out” too much.

But generally I see few people staining quality hard wood.

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CaptainKlutz

4356 posts in 2551 days


#4 posted 01-07-2020 12:14 PM


What motivates people to color wood rather than leaving it natural?
- unclearthur

You answered your own question?


Is it simply to get a different color?
Does the stain itself help enhance the grain or figure in the wood?
Or is it to match boards better across a project?
Or to match other pieces of furniture?
Or to imitate different species of wood?
Or trying to stain to improve consistency.

Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes, and Yes.
Or Yes to all the above!

This post is like asking why do men wear different colored shirts, or women different color dress everyday?
IMHO – Because they can, and they want to be different.
Life would be boring if whole world was white maple, or yellow pine!

+1 I color wood in my home to keep SWMBO happy.

+1 proper use of color when finishing, will make grain figure pop out to look almost 3D.
Without color, you can’t do this to curly maple:
:-)

Often find myself with dilemma of cherry or Walnut sap wood sneaking into the edge or corner of board, that I intended to remove. Can easily use dye(s) with air brush, or small artist brushes to blend the sap wood into the heart wood seamlessly when I make another Klutz mistake.

YMMV

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

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OSU55

2774 posts in 3046 days


#5 posted 01-07-2020 01:03 PM

One reason you didnt mention – quickly “age” the project. It takes many years for furniture to get the age patina, coloring can provide it new. Been coloring wood for 30 years, but never to make one wood look like something else – I guess some think like that. The piece may need to match or fit in the color scheme that already exists. Main reason I use color is to enhance the appearance.

Coloring wood is a skill itself, just as finishing is. As such it takes skill development to do properly. Those “pitfalls” are from the unskilled attempting to do it.

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sansoo22

1415 posts in 711 days


#6 posted 01-07-2020 02:02 PM

Sometimes people want the look of walnut without paying the price of it. Or maybe they want a deep ebony finish on a bedroom set without doing a full ebony veneer on it. Some purists will always say that wood should never be stained or colored but I disagree. And like OSU55 puts it coloring wood is a skill unto itself. Sometimes you have to mix colors to get the right one. Sometimes its a two color process of maybe a redish hue with a darker espresso over top to get the right look.

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

6940 posts in 2444 days


#7 posted 01-07-2020 02:44 PM

I’ve done used an ebonizing technique with oak to make wood drawer pulls that resemble ebony or even wrought iron but still have a wood grain. BTW, even before liquid stains were being used, they used fuming to darken wood to get a different look.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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davezedlee

63 posts in 1881 days


#8 posted 01-07-2020 02:55 PM

cuz chicks dig it!

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JackDuren

1495 posts in 2016 days


#9 posted 01-07-2020 03:07 PM

Too bring life to the ordinary….

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pottz

16265 posts in 2041 days


#10 posted 01-07-2020 03:18 PM

for me the answer is easy,i dont,i use only natural woods with oil finishes to bring out and enhance the grain.i hate stained wood.just my personal preference to each his own,or as said his wifes-lol.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

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SMP

3817 posts in 962 days


#11 posted 01-07-2020 03:19 PM

Even putting “Clear” finish colors the wood, especially if its oil or shellac that yellows. But then again, if you put nothing on it, the elements will color it as well. So its more of “in what way do you prefer to color your wood?”

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JackDuren

1495 posts in 2016 days


#12 posted 01-07-2020 03:44 PM

When we built the house I had everything stained Easy American. All oak pieces are stained the same…the bathroom in the recroom stained this but I may made a dramatic change because I have so much walnut….

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile

wildwoodbybrianjohns

2758 posts in 604 days


#13 posted 01-07-2020 04:24 PM



Too bring life to the ordinary….

- JackDuren

Not really sure what youve posted here, Jack, but it sure is a FINE looking piece of work!

-- WWBBJ: It is better to be interesting and wrong, than boring and right.

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

6482 posts in 3366 days


#14 posted 01-07-2020 04:42 PM

Only time I use stain is if someone insist or if I’m trying to make one wood look like another wood because the wood I want isn’t available. Mostly I don’t stain.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

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JackDuren

1495 posts in 2016 days


#15 posted 01-07-2020 04:56 PM


Too bring life to the ordinary….

- JackDuren

Not really sure what youve posted here, Jack, but it sure is a FINE looking piece of work!

- wildwoodbybrianjohns


It would have been dull if it had been just birch…..

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