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Birch stained to antique mahogony

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Forum topic by Mattjp18 posted 01-23-2012 06:52 AM 1710 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mattjp18

2 posts in 1063 days


01-23-2012 06:52 AM

Topic tags/keywords: mahogony stain birch question

Hi, I’m new here and hoping someone here would be able to give me some tips. I’m trying to achieve a look like this table: http://www.potterybarn.com/products/benchwright-dining-table/. I read up and know that the table is built with birch and stained. Some of the other posts recommend using dyes and gel stains. Could anyone provide me with some steps to achieve this look? I’ve never done any staining like this before but I’m willing to learn! Thanks for any help you can provide.

Matt


5 replies so far

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ShaneA

5449 posts in 1346 days


#1 posted 01-23-2012 07:07 AM

Have you built the table yet? If you have not built it yet, you would be able to use other woods maybe a little more easy to work and stain. You of course could use mahagony, or maybe white or red oak which would both probably be a little cheaper and easier to stain than birch, in my opinion. If you are going to use birch, you may want to use a wood conditioner to help deepen the color and even it out some.

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Bill White

3582 posts in 2708 days


#2 posted 01-23-2012 06:00 PM

Seal the wood with shellac (dewaxed), use a wiping stain. LET IT DRY AFTER WIPING OFF!!! Did I say let it dry/cure? After achieving the stain color and depth that ya want, wipe on a glazing color for highlighting. Wipe off the glaze in areas that will look like the coloring has been “worn”. Final coating with a water based poly. It’ll take about 4 coats. Buff and wax.
Why birch?
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

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Mattjp18

2 posts in 1063 days


#3 posted 01-23-2012 06:48 PM

Thanks for the tips guys, I’m not sold on birch, I just noticed that the table in the pic was made with birch. Any recommendations on another wood choice?

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Bill White

3582 posts in 2708 days


#4 posted 01-23-2012 06:54 PM

I could see that table with a paint/glaze/distressed base, and a reclaimed longleaf (heart) pine top.
Bill

-- bill@magraphics.us

View live4ever's profile

live4ever

983 posts in 1758 days


#5 posted 01-23-2012 07:17 PM

Many of the lighter woods (maple, birch, pine, etc.) are prone to blotching when stained, especially with dyes in thin solvent (water or oil).

It’s a common desire to stain these woods dark because lots of commercial furniture, like the table in question, is made with a cheaper wood but stained a dark color. Commercial furniture manufacturers have access to finishing equipment that we don’t have in hobbyist or small shops, such as the ability to “bake on” numerous layers of finish easily.

Can it be done? Of course, but it will take some trial and error. The first step is to use a gel stain, which will penetrate more evenly compared to dye that is dissolved in a thinner solvent. Alternatively, you can start with a prestain conditioner, such as Charles Neil’s product. Note that conditioners have the benefit of evening out the stain with the drawback that less stain penetrates overall, so you might not be able to get as dark as you want. If the staining process does not get the color you want after 2-3 applications, you must then tint your top coat of choice with dye to further darken or modify the overall color. Note that this has the downside of potentially obscuring the grain of the wood if you add too much toning to your topcoats. Of course, in commercial furniture, most of the grain is obscured and nobody seems to care. Clarity in a finish is a personal decision. Some folks want a more even, dark finish and don’t mind obscuring the grain. Achieving clarity is, of course, more difficult.

At a minumum, you’ll be looking at applying a gel stain, sealer, followed by your choice of varnish/lacquer/poly as a topcoat. As I mentioned, the topcoats may need to be tinted with dye if the stain didn’t get the wood as dark as you wanted. This works much, much better if you are spray finishing.

If you’re new to the finishing process and want the best-looking outcome with the least frustration, my recommendation FWIW would be to build out of a wood that tolerates dark stain without blotching, such as mahogany or walnut. Yes, the wood cost will be double compared to birch, but you might save yourself some major finishing headaches.

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

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