Barrier finish on red oak

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Forum topic by TomB19 posted 11-26-2014 09:29 PM 1374 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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52 posts in 3309 days

11-26-2014 09:29 PM

I’ve been searching the net for a finish to use on red oak. There must be hundreds of how-tos but none I’ve read so far have been what I’m looking for. If someone can share a link, I would be extremely grateful.

The piece is a plinth for a glass display case.

Here’s what I’m looking for: barrier finish, filled grain, reduced or eliminated red-tones, more brown

6 replies so far

View TomB19's profile


52 posts in 3309 days

#1 posted 11-27-2014 04:25 PM

OK, this question was asked badly and the subject is pretty much wrong.

I haven’t attempted a furniture finish on wood in 30 years. My projects are either painted or clear coated bare wood (Varathane spray clear or floor varnish). Suffice to say, I’m no furniture maker.

Another potential point of interest is that I’m extremely completely color deficient.

I ended up making a plinth for my Mom to display an heirloom out of red oak. She has some other red oak pieces but they are brown, not redish. She would like it matched. Of course, I can’t do that because I don’t have the color skills but I’d like to take a shot at getting in the ball park.

I’ve browsed the wood stain isles of Benjamin Moore and Home Depot but I’ve also read the tannins in red oak are nasty to deal with and will bleed through causing strange color combinations.

I also understand there is a wide variance in the tannin content and color of red oak, as a species. I’m painting barns here, not portraits. I just want to tame the orangey tone that comes with the standard Golden Oak coloring.

I can deal with gel grain filler and I can brush on some Waterlox. I just need a formula to stain red oak a medium brown.

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Fred Hargis

7362 posts in 3834 days

#2 posted 11-27-2014 04:31 PM

I think if I was worried about the tannins, I would give the oak a coat of shellac….it’s pretty much the go-to barrier coat for all sorts of things. If it will seal out sap on softwoods (it will) it will keep your contamination issues at bay. Top coat that with whatever coloring agent you decide on. A gel stain works well, but when you wipe it off you may find that it has enhanced the grain texture somewhat…it will lodge in some of the pores making them a little more obvious. The Waterlox should go on quite nicely, it will be a darker varnish so be forewarned. Your first post mentioned filled grain, the second did not so it’s not on the list (that’s a good thing, quite a bit more work)? BTW, for the shellac, any of the Zinsser formulas should work well…but Seal Coat may be the best choice (more clear).

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View lndfilwiz's profile


118 posts in 2942 days

#3 posted 11-27-2014 06:08 PM

Have you thought of using a hand rubbed oil finish?

-- Smile, it makes people wander what you are up to.

View AandCstyle's profile


3306 posts in 3598 days

#4 posted 11-28-2014 01:26 AM

I agree that a shellac coat would a good way to start. However, whatever you decide to do, try it of scrap first. An oil finish will darken the wood to some extent and that might be enough for your purpose.

-- Art

View OSU55's profile


2944 posts in 3331 days

#5 posted 11-28-2014 04:13 AM

I do a lot with red oak but i dont use any boxstore stuff. It is difficult to get the pores to color completely.. I use Transtint dyes with Target coatings wr4000 stain base. For brown the medium brown and honey amber would get you where you want. A little yellow will move red to brown. Regardless of the stain or dye type sand the surface with 220 or 320 and leave the sanding dust, apply color and wipe off, rubbing it around to fill the pores with saw dust. WR4000 needs a thin shellac barrier coat on top if a wb topcoat is used. I do a lot of toning with shellac as well by mixing transtint in directly. Oil or poly finishes are amber ang will move red to brown. Look up a color chart to help you with mixing, and test colors on scrap

View TomB19's profile


52 posts in 3309 days

#6 posted 11-30-2014 01:07 AM

I really appreciate the advice in this thread. In particular, the adding yellow to move red to brown.

Indfilwiz, I haven’t considered hand rubbed oil but there is no reason not to.

Thank you! :)

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