Making white oak to dark reddish brown

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Forum topic by Axle505 posted 09-30-2016 03:35 AM 662 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Axle505's profile


143 posts in 980 days

09-30-2016 03:35 AM

I’ve done some woodworking, but I’m far from being an expert. I’m just not afraid to try new things. I’m refinishing a piece from the 1960s with oak veneer. My wife wants it a reddish walnut. It’s stripped—what next?

9 replies so far

View mahdee's profile


3992 posts in 1912 days

#1 posted 09-30-2016 10:49 AM

Try this on a scrap first. Rub it with “red mahogany” and then “dark walnut” or minwax “honey”.


View mike02130's profile


170 posts in 817 days

#2 posted 09-30-2016 12:44 PM

Sometimes what the wife has in mind and the reality are two different things. Basic stains are reds, brown, and gold’s. White oak lends itself well to the gold tones.

-- Google first, search forums second, ask questions later.

View a1Jim's profile


117234 posts in 3722 days

#3 posted 09-30-2016 01:59 PM

View rwyoung's profile


409 posts in 3616 days

#4 posted 09-30-2016 02:37 PM

Get a copy of Charles Neil’s “Custom Colors” book and experiment a little bit.

If you don’t want to experiment on the piece itself, get some white oak veneer, some MDF or plywood and make some test panels first. Won’t be a dead-on match but close enough.

Another good place to get information on finishing white oak if you are interested in any of the Stickley colors, is from Homestead Finishing.

You aren’t locked into using the exact products Jeff recommends (sells). Again, experiment a little bit first.

-- Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

View Kirk650's profile


566 posts in 893 days

#5 posted 09-30-2016 04:55 PM

I have a few dyes mixed up that would probably fit your needs. Order some Dark Walnut Transtint dye and some JE Moser Dark Wine Cherry. Get the Dark Walnut (in water) to the basic shade and darkness that you want and then add a tiny bit of the Dark Wine Cherry until you get the red you want.

Find a Container Store and buy yourself a half dozen of the wide mouth Nalgene (I think that’s the plastic) bottles with the screw on cap. Mix the dye blends in those. You can fit a foam brush in the mouth of the bottle, and the foam brush is how I apply the water based dye.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5757 posts in 2958 days

#6 posted 09-30-2016 05:03 PM

1+ for the suggestions to do the coloring in 2 steps. First the red tone with a water based dye (like Transtint), then let dry and scuff sand with 400 grit sponges. Then an oil based walnut stain, like Rodda, Varathane, or Cabot. Then topcoat (I like to spray lacquer).

As always, make sample boards from the same species and sanded to the same grit as your final project. Take the sample boards through every step, including the topcoat. Take the sample boards inside to see them in the same light where the furniture will be.

Otherwise, there are some stains that look good all by themselves.

Good luck!

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Axle505's profile


143 posts in 980 days

#7 posted 09-30-2016 11:50 PM

Thank you, gents! We’ll go red, sand, dark walnut brown and spay poly.

I appreciate the help!

View Axle505's profile


143 posts in 980 days

#8 posted 10-04-2016 04:22 PM

Not as red or as dark. So far, so good.

View Kirk650's profile


566 posts in 893 days

#9 posted 10-04-2016 04:55 PM

It looks very good, and should darken with an oil containing finish.

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