Problem finishing Ash to compliment Red Oak

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Forum topic by LilttleBB posted 08-02-2010 02:55 AM 3657 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 3080 days

08-02-2010 02:55 AM

I just completed my first major woodworking project: a trestle table made mostly of Red Oak; however, the long stretcher is Ash, which I purchased on a whim.

My dilemma: I finally settled on a finish, General Finishes “Light Oak” Oil-Based Stain, with a coat of shellac, and topcoats of Arm-R-Seal, also by Gen. Finishes.

Then it came to testing it on a sample of my pesky piece of Ash. The Ash, done the same way, turns brown and clashes with the amber-hued finished Red Oak. I tried Danish Oil, which surprisingly turned out much like the “Light Oak” stain on the Red Oak, but I got the same result on the Ash—dull, brownish.

Ideas on finishing Ash to compliment or contrast with Red Oak would be appreciated.

11 replies so far

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18394 posts in 3881 days

#1 posted 08-02-2010 07:11 AM

May have to leave it without finish if you can’t find a clear one, eh?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4305 days

#2 posted 08-02-2010 07:25 AM

Pictures would help us visualize. But I confess I would lean toward replacing the stretcher with oak as it should have been.

Getting the ash to look the same would be as much trouble as replacing it.

A contrasting color could work or it would just ruin the look of the whole table.

You chose to travel a rough road here…but hey, I have done things like that too. The lessons learned are invaluable. Look where it got me:)

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View childress's profile


841 posts in 3747 days

#3 posted 08-02-2010 07:45 AM

How about getting some ebony stain and stain it black…might look cool

-- Childress Woodworks

View LilttleBB's profile


5 posts in 3080 days

#4 posted 08-02-2010 03:30 PM

Okay, I hope I attached this pic properly. I would LOVE to simply replace the stretcher, but, to add insult to my injury, I glued it in place. I could not get the floating tenon/wedge to work for me. (I was in over my head from the beginning).

This picture is from about a month ago but you can see the Ash well in it.

As you can see, it’s not a terrible clash unfinished so I may be looking into a clear finish for the entire table.

I also wonder what a clear finish (something that would brighten the Ash—not brown it) would look like if the rest of the table was finished with the amber-hued process mentioned above.

If I do go with a clear finish for the entire table, what are my options? I’m afraid Arm R Seal will produce the same result as Danish Oil. Would a water-based topcoat be preferred?

View WoodNuts's profile


74 posts in 3154 days

#5 posted 08-02-2010 04:38 PM

Check out Charles Neil’s A to Z. Construction looks good from here…

-- ...there's a fix fer dat...

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5 posts in 3080 days

#6 posted 08-02-2010 08:10 PM

Thanks, next time I will.

View childress's profile


841 posts in 3747 days

#7 posted 08-02-2010 09:15 PM

Seriously, stain it black. Not paint it, use some ebony stain and you will still see the wood grain. I think it would look cool!

-- Childress Woodworks

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5 posts in 3080 days

#8 posted 08-02-2010 09:19 PM

I have a woodworking friend that agrees with you. If I did that, do you think I should stain the side stretcher’s ebony, too?

Also, what would you recommend in terms of ebony stains/dyes?

View childress's profile


841 posts in 3747 days

#9 posted 08-02-2010 10:50 PM

Not a bad idea… I would start with the center and then look at it. Go with the flow, I’m sure you’ll make it look good either way

-- Childress Woodworks

View DrDirt's profile


4512 posts in 3948 days

#10 posted 08-02-2010 11:01 PM

Since you are starting with a color difference, the oak being more Pink in color vs. a ‘whiter ash’ I would bleach the oak. to get to a ‘common’ starting point color wise- This is a harder route, but because you want a light oak final product, you need to get “Evenly Light” not “Evenly Dark” to get started

I would go Trans tint Dye first, then shellac to seal it.
The Dye is usually…insensitive to Tannins in the wood.
Then decide how much I want the grain to stand out and pick a stain color. because the surface is sealed, only the heavy pores will take on the stain.
Then go with your Top-coat choice.

Of Course test boards are key!

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View LilttleBB's profile


5 posts in 3080 days

#11 posted 08-04-2010 03:30 AM

Thanks, Dave. I think I may have overreacted. I tried TransTint Golden Brown on both the Ash and the Red Oak and it’s a near match. In fact, the Ash turned out really pretty. So TransTint to the rescue. ‘Can’t believe the General Finishes oil stain would turn out so differently on two relatively similar species. It probably goes back to the tannins, which is out of my league. Anyway, thanks to all who responded. I’ll post pics once I get it finished.

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