Q: best way to finish knotty pine doors?

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Forum topic by tminus4 posted 02-24-2011 08:53 AM 13146 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 2870 days

02-24-2011 08:53 AM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing knotty pine door slabs pine

Hi Everyone,
Im new to the LJ site, but thrilled to find it. I have nine knotty pine v-groove arch top pine door slabs that I need to finish for a vacation house Im trying to have built this summer. Im a pretty handy guy and have done some minor finishing over the years including some custom finish trim work I did on my kitchen remodel. Mostly I have worked with maple and have always sanded up to 220, preped with wood conditioner, then wiped on a liquid minwax stain, and finished with wipe-on poly. I dont want to waste a door experimenting to get it right and am hoping that you kind folks could advise me as to the best procedure and techniques. Id like to achieve a walnut appearance for these doors. Is the procedure Ive used in the past the best way to go? Ive read that the gel stains work well on pine but dont make the grain pop and can look opaque. Im hoping to make this inexpensive door look more impressive and actually want to emphasize the knots and any grain. Id greatly appreciate any advice you can provide.
Thanks, Ron

5 replies so far

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3149 days

#1 posted 02-24-2011 06:08 PM

I’m a little confused. Wanting to emphasize the “knots and grain” of pine doors and wanting the pine to “acheive the appearance of walnut” seem, to me at least, to be contradictory statements.To get a walnut like look on pine I usually use a dark stain, like provincial, to try to mask the piney grain. Then I like to finish with lacquer and buff the dried finish with 0000 steel wool to get a matt, or semi-gloss look.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3028 days

#2 posted 02-24-2011 06:54 PM

I’m with crank. Pine is pine; there are few woods which would be more difficult to make resemble something they aren’t. And pine, in any form, is emblematic of economy decisions in material choice.

They will darken sweetly over time; is that not an acceptable shade downstream?

Regardless of your aesthetic decisions, pay special attention to the end grain. Pine loves moisture which rustles its fibers with amazing spatial results.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View tminus4's profile


2 posts in 2870 days

#3 posted 02-24-2011 08:32 PM

Crank and Lee, THank you both for the responses and advice. Sorry to be confusing, I meant that I wanted to get a walnut-like color. You make a good point about the grain not really being the most attractive and maybe Im being foolish trying to make the doors look like something they’re not. Crank, having finished pine to a dark color before, do you think they will turn out attractive or just look like somebody threw some dark stain on pine door? By the way, do you think a gel or a liquid stain would work best considering all the groves? Thanks for you comments, guys!

View Don's profile


517 posts in 3251 days

#4 posted 02-24-2011 08:51 PM

Use a sealer like dewaxed Shellac before staining or you’ll end up with doors that look like this:
I also recommend trying wood dyes instead of stain and practicing on some sample peices cut from the same lumber before applying any finish to the real door.

-- Don - I wood work if I could. Redmond WA.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3149 days

#5 posted 02-25-2011 01:04 AM

The gel stain will stay on the surface longer and is easier to work with due to being slower. It is hard o explain, but I just try working on a piece of similar wood and make a bunch of tests till I get what I want. Different soak times, different ways to wipe it off. Maybe mix a little BLO and stain. Try a little thinned shellac to seal first. It’s much more an art than a science. I personally do not use anything water based if I can avoid it. I have made pine look pretty good, but not without a lot of trial and error.

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