Assistance needed with finishing regimen for red oak.


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Hey guys...looking for some help in the finishing department for this project.

So, I have a basic 30" base cabinet, with solid oak facing and doors / drawer. I will be using cabinet grade red oak ply for the sides and back, and adding red oak posts on the four corners. Basically, I will be transforming this simple (read: cheap) base cabinet into a multi-purpose island in the kitchen.

I've been playing with a few different approaches in regards to finishing. I want the finished base cabinet to be a warm, dark espresso color (almost like a dark walnut, but with more of a chocolate-like warmth). I found a stain, made by Rustoleum (yeah, I know, it's not a GF), called Kona that I really like, and when it goes on, is very close to the color I want, albeit slightly "cooler" than I want. The problem is, when I wipe the excess off after about 10 minutes, that rich color mostly vanishes, resulting in a much lighter overall stain, with very dark pore accents.

So, here's what I've tried thus far on some samples. All samples have been sanded to 220 (I'm thinking I may need to stop at 150?). I have applied the stain directly to the bare wood, waited about 10 minutes, wiped, let dry overnight, then apply a second coat of a lighter, warmer stain, waited 10 minutes, lightly wiped, and let dry overnight, then applied a barrier coat of dewaxed shellac.

I've also tried using an initial coat of the dewaxed shellac on the bare wood as a sanding sealer, let dry for 1 hour, lightly scuff-sand (again, using 220), then applied the Kona stain. After about 10 minutes, I wiped the excess, let dry overnight, then applied the warmer stain (Autumn), and lightly wiped the excess after roughly 10 minutes. This method seemed to prevent the pores from absorbing too much stain, so the overall appearance of the grain was somewhat deemphasized. Again, I applied a barrier coat of the dewaxed shellac.

So, here's where I need some guidance. I am pretty sure I want to use a 2lb cut of the dewaxed shellac as a sealer prior to staining the wood. I was much happier with the pore appearance when starting with this method. But, I was also thinking about using a TransTint dye, mixed with the shellac, to help get a more even tonal consistency between the late / early wood growth and pores. The question is, when should / do I apply the TransTint?

Should I use the TransTint in the sanding sealcoat on the bare wood first, then stain it? Or should I stain the wood first, and then use the TransTint in the barrier coat of dewaxed shellac before my topcoat? This will be used on all the solid oak pieces, as well as on the oak ply on the sides / back as well (If that matters).

Any help / guidance here would be awesome.

Thanks.

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Couple of things to consider...

2lb cut is a bit much for a seal coat... 1lb or 0.5 is standard in that application. If your after a bit of 'softening pores', then i get it...

Since i spray shellac, i've never worked with 2# wipe-on, so maybe someone else can chime-in.

No problem adding trans-tint to a shellac step -- do it all the time myself.

to even-out early/late growth rings in oak/ash/elm/etc, if you can only hand-apply, then think gel stain -- this is termed 'subduing growth rings'

to get a more even color then a gel, you need to spray -- but it doesn't sound like you have the kit...

on surfaces like oak, folks sand to 220 for light-tinted finishes and 150/180 for darker... sounds like you're going darker.

another trick to minimize dye absorption differences between early/late in oak/ash/etc is to pre-flood the surface with alcohol (since you are tinting shellac)

to even-out differences between oak ply and solid components, folks look at gel stains or spray aniline dyes

if you can spray: aniline dye, then shellac to seal it in. the dye penetrates new/old growth quite well and you get a more even color.

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Espresso is a pain on oak ply without a custom blended color. My most popular choice to date is GF RTM132. It comes out pretty good even by hand even though spraying is best. Id call GF and see if they are willing to send you at least some photo samples they are always accurate since they are made on oak and maple plywood. Iv never seen them posted online but maybe homestead is worth a try. If you find one you like then you can order it premixed. I can blend GF, johnathan and associates or maybe even homestead.

That would be about the easiest solution.

Don

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Oaks don't take stain very well as you discovered. Yes the deep grain loves to collect the stains pigments making the grain go dark. Shellac will help reduce the grain take-up of the pigments as you discovered, not much, but some.

First...are you using water or oil based stain?

Second...have you figured out your topcoat yet?

To experiment and if you stains are compatible, try mixing a little of the lighter stain into the darker stain. Thus reducing the coolness you don't like.

Ok if this were me, I would mix some Transtint and denatured alcohol and spray an even coat to tone the wood dark("er")Then use a sealer of choice to lock down the dye (a nice water-based topcoat sprayed thin). Then, carry on with a water-based stain. You could also seal the stain coat. Then glaze over the sealed stain with more stain to bring the color in more.

Hope this helps?

FYI:

General Finishes will not sell you "individual pre mixed" RTM. It's a contained professional system including all the color samples on wood which includes the recipe.

-Ace-

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I read the overall goal as dark rich color, subdued growth rings and even-out differences between ply and solid wood in a single project. In my experience, you need to spray Enduro to get an outcome like that on oak/ash/etc. I'm not reading that the OP has access to spray gear, so that's why a gel stain may be his best bet. He can seal it in with shellac.

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FYI:

General Finishes will not sell you "individual pre mixed" RTM. It's a contained professional system including all the color samples on wood which includes the recipe.

-Ace-

You get it premixed from most commercial finish dealers. Johnathan and associates is GF distribution in ca and will mix any color as long as you tell them the chip number.

Don

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http://www.woodessence.com/Enduro-RTM-Water-Based-Stain-ColorBox-P207C62.aspx

Use the link above for the RTM colors and codes. If you do a little digging. You can figure out the base colors and apply that to the code on your wood sample. Shhhh! Don't tell anybody. Another good way to learn color.

Just click on the wood sample.

-Ace-

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Here is my favorite finishing schedule for oaks:

- sand to 150

- wet the surface to raise the grain and lightly sand

- apply Lockwood water based dye

- apply #2 cut of Zinsser Sealcoat shellac

- apply Varathane oil based stain

- apply Watrerlox oil based varnish

This allows you to really control the color. This example is on white oak.

IMAGE_D4DB3F9A-F80B-4795-9D49-65905FE5D1C4.JPG

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Wow, such awesome answers. So, rather than trying to reply to everyone individually, let me try to answer everyone's questions:

Spraying: Unfortunately, no, I do not yet have an HVLP system. It's on the purchase list for this year, as it looks like there are a couple moderately priced models from Earlex that would be good choices.

Topcoat: I was leaning towards the Satin GF Arm-R-Seal. I want a nice even sheen, but I also want the wood "touchable", if that makes sense. I am not a big fan of thick topcoats, at least not for most furniture items. I prefer something close to the wood.

Sealcoat: I used the 2# cut of the Zinnser Shellac to help reduce the amount of stain that the pores will absorb. In my test samples, I was pretty happy with the results I achieved from this.

Stains: I prefer to use the oil-based products...partly because my experience with water-bourne finishes is limited, and partly because the water-bourne finishes I've used thus far have not overly impressed me as far as the color results are concerned. Again, this could be lack of experience.

***

So, it sounds like I need to stop the sanding at 150 to help the oak absorb more color. So, I'll give that a go on another scrap sample of the red oak. As for the Gel Stain, I haven't used one of those before, so I'm somewhat hesitant to make this project a "test project" for using the gel stain on a large surface area. The regular stains are just more familiar to me. As I mentioned, I really like the kona stain...and I think I will try mixing two parts kona to 1 part autumn and see what results that yields with the 2# seal coat.

So, a followup question: If I decide to use the TransTint, which would be the better layer to tint? The sealcoat, which hits the wood first -- or the barrier coat, which is applied to block off the stain from the top coat?

I'm not far from the local Woodcraft, so I can definitely pick up some GF Gel Stain to practice with. I just don't see this project as being the right one for experimentation. :)

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http://www.woodessen...ox-P207C62.aspx

Use the link above for the RTM colors and codes. If you do a little digging. You can figure out the base colors and apply that to the code on your wood sample. Shhhh! Don't tell anybody. Another good way to learn color.

Just click on the wood sample.

-Ace-

I think the RTM 16 or the RTM 111 is pretty much the exact finish I'm looking for. Thank you for that link!

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http://www.woodessence.com/Enduro-RTM-Water-Based-Stain-ColorBox-P207C62.aspx

Use the link above for the RTM colors and codes. If you do a little digging. You can figure out the base colors and apply that to the code on your wood sample. Shhhh! Don't tell anybody. Another good way to learn color.

Just click on the wood sample.

-Ace-

Those colors are a ways off.

Don

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If this was me and I'm hand applying. Don't use shellac as a transfer agent. Use either denatured alcohol, water, lacquer thinner with the Transtint. The reason being, supposes you get lap marks? It's easier to control color directly on the wood. Also, you can rid a dye coat of lap marks with a light scuff with 320 grit sanding pad. Tinted shellac is hard to control by hand applying, especially larger surfaces and multiple coats.

Me...I would dye the wood first, then carry on with the remainder of the finishing schedule, so no tinting of any barrier coats.

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If this was me and I'm hand applying. Don't use shellac as a transfer agent. Use either denatured alcohol, water, lacquer thinner with the Transtint. The reason being, supposes you get lap marks? It's easier to control color directly on the wood. Also, you can rid a dye coat of lap marks with a light scuff with 320 grit sanding pad. Tinted shellac is hard to control by hand applying, especially larger surfaces and multiple coats.

Me...I would dye the wood first, then carry on with the remainder of the finishing schedule, so no tinting of any barrier coats.

Thanks, Ace. I am hand-applying, so the denatured alcohol sounds like the right approach. So, once the wood has been dyed, should I use the 2# cut of shellac as a seal coat before applying the stain, or is a barrier coat not needed, and I can apply the stain directly overtop of the dye?

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