advice needed on oak cabinet finish

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Forum topic by Greedo posted 06-15-2010 12:36 PM 1162 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Greedo's profile


470 posts in 2382 days

06-15-2010 12:36 PM

in woodworking class we have been busy the last few months building a cabinet, a simple one with a door and a drawer above.
the others made theirs in pine, wich is supplied for free, but i chose to make mine from french oak because i had never made hardwood furniture yet. so i spent near $350 for the wood alone.
there are only 2 evenings left to finish the cabinet and i would need some advice on how to finish it, the teachers aren’t much help on that.

i don’t like too dark tones, i would like to stay close to the natural color, just a bit darker.
and then not all the wood has the same color, the door panel is from another tree and it is darker than the rest. any advice on that?
what kind of finish would you suggest?
btw, the top is marketry, i will have pics in the coming days

7 replies so far

View CharlesNeil's profile


1602 posts in 3292 days

#1 posted 06-15-2010 02:40 PM

your question is almost impossible to answer without seeing a picture, and even then the best you can get is a guess , to get all the wood the same you will either have to go with a color dark enough to bring it all together , or do an equalizing stain,or dye on the lighter wood to get it to match the darker wood, then using a stain of your choice you can bring the entire unit into a matching color, wish i could help you more , you also have to work around the marquetry

View wisno's profile


88 posts in 2432 days

#2 posted 06-17-2010 03:05 AM

Yes you need to specify your color wishes.
In my opinion the natural or light stain will give you nice looked for your oak wood.

Oak wood for furniture

good luck



View a1Jim's profile


115177 posts in 2998 days

#3 posted 06-17-2010 07:45 AM

If you want to stay light with the color just put some lacquer on it on it and call it good.

-- Custom furniture

View Greedo's profile


470 posts in 2382 days

#4 posted 06-17-2010 08:04 AM

thank you,
i am leaning towards waxing the cabinet, i would like to keep it natural.
they told me i could “age” the looks of the oak by exposing it to ammonia fumes for a day aswell, im not sure about that yet. i will try waxing a test part and see if the result pleases me.
finished the construction yesterday at the last evening of lessons, but they won’t let us take them home before 10 days so they can examine our work and give points.

View sawblade1's profile


754 posts in 2448 days

#5 posted 06-17-2010 08:49 AM

One word of advice about ammonia fumes PLEASE BE CAREFUL Gustav Stickley did this style of finishing, but as a former maintenance in a soap and chemical plant ammonia fumes in large quantities (over 2 gallons) has the potential in confined or enclosed spaces of burning your lungs out in five minutes or less if conditions are right you will or can be overcome in minutes and damage is most often irreversible so I would not attempt this until you gain some professional advice. However you can use Minwax 209 Natural on oak and tint the clear-cote A lot safer method that works and gets great results. I hope not to scare you but I just care about the safety of everyone not just myself a finger, eye, or life is not worth the risk to make a grade or a job get done!!

-- Proverbs Ch:3 vs 5,6,7 Trust in the lord with all thine heart and lean not unto your own understanding but in all your ways aknowledge him and he shall direct your path

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 2706 days

#6 posted 06-17-2010 01:58 PM

Greedo, “Fuming” works great on White Oak, but not so well on Red Oak. French Oak, I have no idea. It is a very time consuming process and like sawblade1 said, can be very dangerous. I just finished a large gun cabinet built with quarter sawn white oak and did this process. Beautiful, and you can never duplicate that look with stains, but I had almost as much time in the finishing process as I did building it. I will be glad to give you some safety tips on this if you are interested, or you can “google” it and there are lots of advice on “how to “fume” oak. I agree with A1jim, use a dull rub lacquer finish. It’s fast, good protection, easy to rub out and with a dull rub sheen, it will look like natural oak. As far as the lighter and darker pieces of wood, not unless it is absolutely offensive, I wouldn’t worry about it….....That’s the natural beauty of wood.

-- John @

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 2565 days

#7 posted 06-17-2010 04:59 PM

100% pure Tung Oil, you’ll still be working on the finish a month from now, but it’s look and feel like natural wood. You could also use a varnish based look like tung oil finish, much quicker drying time but not the same feel.

Another option for a natural oil look is BLO, quicker drying time but more of a yellowish tinge.

And my personnal favorite, shellac with a french polish.

My thought is that the beauty of oak is that it looks like wood, I wouldn’t worry about the different colors.

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