Finishing Recommendations: Hemlock

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Forum topic by brownmd posted 01-15-2010 06:21 AM 7327 views 1 time favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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17 posts in 3019 days

01-15-2010 06:21 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing

So, I’m not even started yet, but wondering about what I should do for a finish.

I’m starting my first real woodworking project, making a bed for my wife and I… It’s one of those things that started small – I was going to put a 2×4 frame on some plywood and paint it up to make a headboard… then somehow I’ve gotten to where I am today.

So I was planning on making it from pine, but I took my wife with me to pick out lumber, and she decided she liked the looks of hemlock better, so we came home with that instead.

As for a final result, she’s wanting it to look like “cherry,” though when I show her pictures, it’s really more of a mahogany look that she likes. Any thoughts, recommendations, warnings, words of wisdom as I begin?

Thanks everyone!


7 replies so far

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4042 days

#1 posted 01-15-2010 07:50 AM

Hemlock is fairly soft, so any hard film finish will easily be damaged by any impact. You might want to try an oil finish instead.
What is cherry to her? Some people think of that reddish purple stuff from the commercial stores. Show her some transparent color chips and go from there. Hemlock will NOT stain evenly just like Pine, some type of sealer first will be needed.
I would suggest a colored finish coat if it were a harder species . I have used a tinted shellac or lacquer to simulate that commercial look.

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View mckenziedrums's profile


118 posts in 3022 days

#2 posted 01-15-2010 01:45 PM

First project…. Tung oil… I prefer Waterlox myself but you can use whatever you want. Use a modified tung oil that will dry harder and faster than pure oil.

To get the color I’d use something simple.. aniline dye… Dye will help get a little better penetration than some stains and you can just mix it in water so it’s easy to work with.

View FatScratch's profile


189 posts in 3267 days

#3 posted 01-15-2010 03:06 PM

I second aniline dye. I usually use a seal coat of shellac, followed by analine dye. It has worked very well on woods which typically blotch. The best advice is test it on some scrap first and keep notes on how you got to the color you like. The bigger the scrap piece the better; sometimes a small piece looks great, then you put your finish on a larger project and it just does not look the same.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10350 posts in 3393 days

#4 posted 01-15-2010 08:59 PM

I’ve never used shellac before the dye. Then, I’ve only dyed white oak. Wouldn’t the shellac prevent the dye from penetrating?
If it works, I’ve got quite a few pine and poplar projects that I’d rather not paint!

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View FatScratch's profile


189 posts in 3267 days

#5 posted 01-15-2010 10:59 PM

I wash coat of shellac (1lb cut) helps even out and slow penetration of the dye.

View brownmd's profile


17 posts in 3019 days

#6 posted 01-26-2010 10:05 AM

Thanks everyone for the tips…. this site really is amazing. I’m especially impressed by the speed of responses in the forums.

Can I get the analine die at HD/Lowes, or do I need somewhere more specialized?

Thanks again!

View FatScratch's profile


189 posts in 3267 days

#7 posted 01-27-2010 05:46 PM

HD/Lowes do not carry dye, at least anywhere near me. You need to go to a specialty woodworking store (Rockler, Woodcraft, etc.).

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