Finishish for outdoor walnut chairs

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Forum topic by Dj1225 posted 05-26-2013 11:26 AM 2317 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Dj1225's profile


75 posts in 2832 days

05-26-2013 11:26 AM

Hi everyone,
I would like to ask some advice on what would be the best way to finish 4 adirondack chairs I have made out of walnut. They have turned out very nice, I used all tenon jointery so there are no screw holes to deal with. The issue is there is some sap wood on some of the pieces, so I need to use some type of stain to blend into the darker walnut, also I added a 1/4 each strip of maple in the middle of each of the back seat slats, so I want to keep the contrast between the maple and walnut..

So my thoughts are to tape of the maple areas then use a stain on the walnut parts to darken the areas of sap wood in the walnut, then remove the tape on the maple areas and use a natural finish..

Then top coat. These chairs will see a lot of exposure and I have no issue with maintenance but I would kinda like to be able to do the yearly refinish by spraying.

I live in NC so we have hot summers cool winters.

I had thought about using sikkens but it gave the walnut a greenish tent.

I have not assembled the chairs as I thought it may make more sense to at least stain before assembling. So folks any advice would be greatly appreciated.


-- Dave

7 replies so far

View Wdwerker's profile


333 posts in 2845 days

#1 posted 05-26-2013 11:34 AM

Bring them inside for the winter! Walnut is not going to last very well outdoors!

-- Fine Custom Woodwork since 1978

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 2504 days

#2 posted 05-26-2013 02:46 PM

God, those chairs must be beautiful. Bring them outside only when you sit on them, then keep them inside!

Hand-rubbed danish oil or similar would be my choice.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View Dj1225's profile


75 posts in 2832 days

#3 posted 05-26-2013 04:06 PM

Because of the rather mild winters we would really like to leave them out, as they sit in front of large outdoor fireplace. There has to be some finish that will last a year or so then with a light resand and spray coat continue.
How about some of the marine finishes?

-- Dave

View kdc68's profile


2933 posts in 2889 days

#4 posted 05-26-2013 04:20 PM

+1 Wdwerker and redSLED

The issue is there is some sap wood on some of the pieces, so I need to use some type of stain to blend into the darker walnut

My experience with sap wood in walnut (for indoor projects) would be to use an aniline dye. Simply applying stain will still leave a contrast between that and the heartwood (only a shade or two darker). But with a dye, you can darken the sap to almost match the heartwood. Apply a walnut (Vandyke brown pigment type color) dye to only the sap wood. Next, seal with a sanding sealer or shellac, then apply the stain (gel stain may help with evening the color tones) and followed by topcoats. But since your project is outdoors, check if a dye is applicable with the type of finish you choose.
Hopefully others with more experience with your question will post a suggestion

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View a1Jim's profile


117915 posts in 4189 days

#5 posted 05-26-2013 05:01 PM

I recall reading that Franklin Gottshall would let his Walnut sit out side in snow and all kinds of weather untill the sap wood would rot and then use it for his fine furniture. His name is not brought up much but he made very fine furniture. I really enjoy his books.

Kdc has some good advise but I don’t think that most dyes are as color fast in constant bright sun light.


View Dj1225's profile


75 posts in 2832 days

#6 posted 05-26-2013 09:31 PM

Ok next question. If I use a water base dye to tint the lighter areas of the walnut, then really let it dry out. Could I use a sikkens topcoat with uv protection.. Again I expect some maientence on these chairs.

I know sikkens works, and I think it should go over the dyed wood with no problem.

Am I going in a logical direction

-- Dave

View shampeon's profile


1900 posts in 2795 days

#7 posted 05-27-2013 10:54 PM

I wouldn’t use an aniline dye on outdoor furniture. Aniline dyes will fade in UV light. Search on some guitar building forums for posts that show luthiers intentionally leaving their guitars out in the sun for a few hours or days to fade their bursts to resemble vintage guitars.

TransTint is light-fast.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

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