Can I make a stain using paint and Turpentine?

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Forum topic by Downandunder posted 03-13-2017 02:03 PM 849 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 616 days

03-13-2017 02:03 PM

Hello all,
I have an old cabinet Im restoring and im trying to keep the original color.
I believed the original finisher tinted the original lacquer with cellulose solids,
I say this because it was obvious when i stripped it.

So i dont have and cant get that color in a stain or cellulose solids ,, but i do have a perfect match in oil paint, my Idea was to make a stain toner using the oil paint and turpentine and then finnish it with an oil base varnish , my thoughts are that oil base paint is just varnish with dye in it anyway.

Perhaps theres somebod here that has been down this road and can share their thoughts.
Thanks pete

11 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5106 posts in 4136 days

#1 posted 03-13-2017 02:49 PM

Why not just try a sample piece first?


View canadianchips's profile


2609 posts in 3173 days

#2 posted 03-13-2017 02:55 PM

Back in late eighties !
I made a green stain using GREEN PAINT and paint thinner.
Do test pieces to get the balance.
I brushed it on , then wiped it off leaving a green tinge to the wood.
Todays water based paints are a little harder to do, they do not soak in the way oil based does. Can be done, just saying I prefer oil based .

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View bondogaposis's profile


5055 posts in 2527 days

#3 posted 03-13-2017 04:56 PM

Yes you can make your own stain w/ oil paint and thinner, you can add a little BLO as well if you like. As always test on scraps.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View pintodeluxe's profile


5784 posts in 2989 days

#4 posted 03-13-2017 05:29 PM

If the paint is a perfect match at full concentration, it may not be such a great match once thinned. I have been disappointed with mixtures such as these. They look so thin, like diluted milk paint. Workability is a big concept for me when selecting stains. Premixed stains have ratios of dyes and solids, and the appropriate amount of binder to make them work. I can make stain from tea, dirt, or coffee but I’m not going to. What about when you go to build another piece in the future with matching stain? Will you be able to get the recipe just right on more than one occasion? These are the questions I asked myself when contemplating a similar project.

I’m sure you can get the color in a premixed stain. The topcoat can be tinted slightly if needed, although tinting is very difficult to get right.

I have sample boards of dozens of different stains, with varying techniques. I can always refer to the sample boards when needed.
Pictures of the color you’re going for?
Species of wood?
Are you trying to cover the grain or highlight it?

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

View Downandunder's profile


4 posts in 616 days

#5 posted 03-13-2017 10:27 PM

Hi all , thanks for joining in
The veneer is pacific Maple
The original finish was nitrocellulose with a honey / golden oak color.
I have left one panel untouch so i can work on matching the color.
After stripping the other 3 panels i could see that 2 of them are much darker timber and it was made to look even colors by the use of base coat .
I have made one sample and its a match,but i will make more samples today after work. The plan is to do a oil varnish finish ,not nitro because the tints are just so hard to get its very limited what i can get for nitro, but with varnish its not an issue.
Thanks pete

View BurlyBob's profile


5936 posts in 2441 days

#6 posted 03-13-2017 10:49 PM

A friend of mine told me his Dad use to make a stain from soaking black walnut shells in turpentine.

View Downandunder's profile


4 posts in 616 days

#7 posted 03-14-2017 07:26 AM

Did a couple of tests, the stain was made with oil paint and Turpentine, then a tint of golden oak and now the varish is almost dry and the match is spot on,,how lucky is that! Years ago i use to spray cars so my eye is pretty good, but this chemistry im not sure of because all my finishes are mainly danish oil. But i feel this is going to work out well,

View canadianchips's profile


2609 posts in 3173 days

#8 posted 03-14-2017 01:37 PM

Good to hear its working for ya.
Sometimes we learn new things…...just by trying !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View Downandunder's profile


4 posts in 616 days

#9 posted 03-15-2017 06:21 AM

Good to hear its working for ya.
Sometimes we learn new things…...just by trying !
Yes , have noticed that every furniture restoration as its own puzzle to solve?
I was well aware that during the 50s and 60s finishers would often use cellulose paint as a base to get their even color because ive chatted to some of those older guys over the years and they all did because it was fast and cheap and gave even color which is what furiture manufacturers want.

For me the problem was not being able to do it in nitro,here in oz,you have no chance of buying cellulose . Woodworking supplies here are very limited and there is no shops that specializes in those supplies anymore,,there all gone now and we are left at the mercy of only the big hardware chains.
I will put a photo on when its finished
Thanks again ,pete

- canadianchips

View canadianchips's profile


2609 posts in 3173 days

#10 posted 03-15-2017 01:35 PM

I restored some antique dressers one time. I ran into a dark red color. When I asked questons the people told me it was oxblood.!
I have read articles that OX BLOOD was just the name of the color of the dye.
Another article I read was from Gemany, the guy worked with a furniture maker and actually used ox blood.
Pinto ia correct, if you want to MATCH it, making your own will be tougher to match.
Pictures will be nice too !
Thanks and best wishes with your project

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View FarmerintheWoods's profile


36 posts in 625 days

#11 posted 03-15-2017 07:45 PM

If you’re considering turpentine, I’d suggest BLO instead—it contains drying agents and will move your project along.

BLO is good at enhancing the appearance of wood grain, but also adds an amber tint, so you’ll want to factor that in.

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