Faking Walnut with Birch...

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Forum topic by Mark D. posted 10-30-2009 01:09 AM 6648 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mark D.

155 posts in 3792 days

10-30-2009 01:09 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question birch finishing traditional

Has anyone had any experience with staining birch? Is it a good idea to pre-treat the wood to avoid blotchiness? Any tips on what color/type of stain/dye/topcoat to use? I am building the American Hanging Cupboard from Woodworking Magazine in my multi-part series and am going for a similar look to the walnut finish used in the magazine.(see magazine cover below) Your input is greatly appreciated :-)

Woodworking Magazine Autumn 2008 Cover

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5 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3601 days

#1 posted 10-30-2009 01:17 AM

What I have done is to use a pretty bright water bas dye on the wood after already giving one to coats of
1 lb cut of dewaxed shellac. after yellow dye is dry I use a 2 lb cut of shellac let it dry do a light scuff with 220
and then I use a dark brown wiping stain from Sherwin Williams. after dry I top with wipe on poly.

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View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18286 posts in 3700 days

#2 posted 10-30-2009 01:49 AM

Jim, why the bright dye? Something like yellow??

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View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3601 days

#3 posted 10-30-2009 06:12 AM

The yellow acts as a back light and adds a lot of depth to the walnut also works under cherry color stain.

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View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3571 days

#4 posted 10-30-2009 06:48 AM

I am no pro in the finishing category at this point but I sure have a fair amount of experience and come a long way. My easiest methods always seems to be using Sherwood stains from Sherwin Williams and a lacquer finish with using a sand and seal under coat. Just my opinion, but I would avoid solid wood birch. I have done a ton of things out of maple, much prettier in my opinion and can be stained to look like cherry or walnut. You can get it to go to the darkness you are looking for, though getting it much darker would be a challenge without some sort of dye or toner coats. But getting the look you are after would be simple using just a straight stain from sherwin williams and then a nice lacquer finish. As far as blotchy stain coverage on maple, no worries there if you sand properly. I do not go over 120 grit on solid maple and sanding has to be even. Avoiding things like tilting the sander on the wood and avoid getting swirl marks and you would find maple presents excellent results when worked properly.

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View daveintexas's profile


365 posts in 3900 days

#5 posted 10-30-2009 07:14 AM

Jim is correct a mundo. You need to establish a base color. Not only does it add depth as Jim mentioned, but it also helps even out the light and dark streaks in birch lumber.

The only other thing I would add to Jims finishing scheadule is maybe using some toners. Not only do they help you adjust the color IE- if you have too much brown, you lay down a coat of a reddish toner to mimic walnut. Alot of real good finishers will use toner to create even more depth prior to your top coats.

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