What is best to finish red oak projects/

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Forum topic by Jim Reeves posted 1643 days ago 13852 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jim Reeves

201 posts in 1657 days

1643 days ago

Forgot l think to mention when asking about coffee end table sets what stain looks best on red oak does it need anything other than stain sealer or anything what are some good ones for red oak?

-- jim

10 replies so far

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 1702 days

#1 posted 1643 days ago

Oak takes most stains pretty well, but the grain can get pretty dark. You might want to practice on some scrap before you commit yourself.

I usually tell customers that oak is good only if you like lots of grain to show. – lol

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View lew's profile


10002 posts in 2388 days

#2 posted 1643 days ago

I like to use “Golden Oak” by Min-Wax (I know not too many folks here like their products). It mellows out the color of the wood without covering up the subtle characteristics. Then top coat with clear ploy.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Mogebier's profile


170 posts in 1666 days

#3 posted 1643 days ago

It depends on the effect you want to achieve. When you stain Red Oak, the dark veins really stand out in contrast to the rest of the wood. The Headboard I did here, was Red Oak with Red Oak stain, which made it really Red with no hint of yellow. Then I used 6 coats of Gloss Poly on it. It’s as smooth and shiny as glass.
I am redoing my 61 year-old dining room set that was my Grandmothers, and I am using a stain color “Gunstock” which is a mix of yellow and red, but the dark veins still really stand out, which is the effect I was looking for.

-- You can get more with a kind word and a 2 by 4, than you can with just a kind word.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2455 days

#4 posted 1643 days ago

Just as Lew suggested, I also like to use Golden Oak stain on oak and follow it up with a coat of gloss poly.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Mikeyf56's profile


171 posts in 1855 days

#5 posted 1643 days ago

I am in the Golden Oak camp as well.

-- Powered by Smith & Wilson~~~

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


347 posts in 1655 days

#6 posted 1643 days ago

I personally like red oak as it is so I usually don’t do anything more than pale blonde shellac. However, if you are going to stain and want to minimize the dark veining that Mogebier and Sawkerf mentioned, try some experimenting on scrap with Crystalac clear grain filler prior to staining. It takes a little getting used to but works pretty well as a clear grain filler once you get it down.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View Marc5's profile


304 posts in 1975 days

#7 posted 1643 days ago

Gel Stains are easy to use, very forgiving & work well on Oak.

-- Marc

View Ed's profile


19 posts in 1745 days

#8 posted 1642 days ago

Which finish looks best depends on your personal preferences. Experimenting on scraps is the best way to find out.

Since the different Red Oak species cross-pollinate very easily, there is a lot of grain and color variation from tree-to-tree. I really like to see these differences, so I use either Boiled Linseed oil followed with a wax, or AFM Naturals Oil Wax Finish.

Both of these methods are clear and really let the natural wood show. The result can be anywhere from blonde to dark red depending on the tree and the way it was cut at the sawmill.

-- Ed

View sittingbuller's profile


16 posts in 1632 days

#9 posted 1632 days ago

For red oak, I prefer Watco Golden Oak Danish Oil to start with. I find it lighter than the Minwax golden oak. I follow up with a clear finishing wax. I have found that if this finish gets damaged it is very easy to repair.


-- Requirements for woodworkers: Sharp mind, sharp wit, sharp tools.

View mike85215's profile


127 posts in 1778 days

#10 posted 1632 days ago

I am in the Minwax Golden Oak followed by about five or six coats of Min Wax wipe on poly….Simple forgiving fairly easy to do and yet it looks great.

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