How to make Maple look like Walnut?

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Forum topic by JayPique posted 03-14-2010 04:37 PM 10416 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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61 posts in 3523 days

03-14-2010 04:37 PM

I’ve built some shelves for a client out of sugar maple, but the client has changed her mind and now wants them to match her Peruvian Walnut counter top. I’ve told her that it’s unlikely we can get a perfect match, but she is ok with that and told me to just do the best I can. Sooo…anyone have any thoughts about what dye and/or stain combination I can use to get it close? I’m thinking a water-based, brown walnut, aniline dye followed by a brown walnut pigment stain followed by a tinted topcoat if needed.

I’m off to google right now, but any help is appreciated.

5 replies so far

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3304 days

#1 posted 03-14-2010 04:52 PM

If it were me, I would make up several samples from scrap – including whatever finish you put on the pine shelves – and let the customer decide if any of them are ok.

It would be a major PITA if you jumped thru a bunch of hoops and she still didn’t like the result.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3367 posts in 3344 days

#2 posted 03-14-2010 05:04 PM

Or worse, you get the walnut color she wants, and then she changes her mind again.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3436 days

#3 posted 03-14-2010 05:11 PM

Since maple is a difficult wood to stain using regular stains, I would recommend using aniline dyes. I have found that you can achieve a more even color by using these water based stains. Maple has mineral pockets and density isues which cause regular stains to become blotchy. The darker the stain, the more pronounced the blothiness generally is.
Once the dye has dried, Use a spit coat of shellac to seal it. A spit coat is a good seal and is generally known as a 1/2lb cut mix of dewaxed shellac. I use these guys for both dyes and shellac,
They will answer questions you may have and can even help you with special mixes.
I like shellac with using dye. It just insures that I won’t be transfering or lifting color when I apply my final finish coats.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4121 days

#4 posted 03-14-2010 07:09 PM

A friend of mine that is a Master Gunsmith specializing in early firearms from scratch gave me this formula for doing maple. Raise the grain and sand 3 times to 400 grit. Mix Black Aniline Dye with H2O (mix dye per makers instructions) rub the dye in ‘til almost black and let it dry. The take it outside and wash with H2O the water will start removing the dye when you rinse to the color you would like stop that is what the color will be when dry.
I stained a batch of Maple in the Winter time so no outside washing for me. I had some Curly Maple in my batch so I experimented using Yellow Dye 1st the followed with the black dye and rubbed the black off until I got the color I wanted, very close to Walnut. I can send you pictures of my finished wood if you will send me a PM with your real email address in it.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4129 days

#5 posted 03-14-2010 08:10 PM

might be easier and less money to just make another out of walnut ? ......a nightmare customer. Tell her how much extra it’s going to cost to make that nice closed grain rock hard maple look like an open grain soft walnut and my guess….............she’ll love those natural maple shelves.

Paint them brown.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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