How To Finish Oak Project

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Forum topic by normrep posted 03-04-2012 11:58 PM 1704 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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21 posts in 2597 days

03-04-2012 11:58 PM

I’ve been working with quartersawn white oak on a dresser for my wife. I’ve read about imitating a stickley mission oak finish by starting with staining, then covering with sanding sealer, then wiping on and quickly wiping off a darker gel stain, then finishing with several coats of wipe-on poly. I tried this on a different project with good results, but now wondering why I couldn’t just use one thin coat of wipe-on poly in place of the sanding sealer. Would it seal the stain in, yet allow the gel stain to shade the open pores of the oak without changing the base stain color? Also, I’m wondering if I could use Minwax poly-shades for the first coat and do the sealing and staining in one step before wiping in the gel stain to darken the pores. Of course, I will have to experiment with all of this on test scraps before going to the project, but I wondered if some of you have worked with a similar process and can give me a heads up on what I might expect, or any helpful tips that might allow me to avoid a few headaches. I might also mention that I don’t have any spray equipment, so I’m limited to brushing or wiping – and I would like to find ways to go almost entirely to wiping in the finish process. I’ve heard somewhere that you can mix your own wiping poly? Anybody know anything about that? And does it ever make any sense to finish a polyurethane piece by rubbing it out with wax to make a nicer touch and warmer sheen? Lot’s of questions – I know, but wondering about your thoughts and experiences. Thanks!

5 replies so far

View danr's profile


154 posts in 3386 days

#1 posted 03-05-2012 12:44 AM


I have done several project with QS WO. What I did was completely different than what you have experience with. I like the results that I have gotten with the method outlined below. I dont want to do the fuming process as I am a bit afraid of the ammoina. My process gives a very nice old patina.

1.) die the entire piece using yellow alchohol based die
2.) minwax oil stain (red mahogany) tinted very heavily with black tint (I am going for somthing fairly dark).
3.) pad on / wipe on amber shelac (pre-mix zenser brand) 3 coats with steel wool in between coats
4.) wax

The shelac is a bit tricky until you get the hang of it but is easy to recover from mess ups.

The results make the piece look like it has been around for 100 years. The yellow die really helps to bring out the QS blotches/pattern. The yellow die idea I recieved from a guy on this site who does really cool QS WO picture frames and such. I have to admit that putting yellow die on everything as the first step is a little un-nerving. I am not an expert at finishing my any strech. Try it on a sample (of course).... you may find that you like it.

There are plenty finishing experts on here so it will be interesting to see what they have to say.

Good Blessings.

View normrep's profile


21 posts in 2597 days

#2 posted 03-06-2012 07:11 PM

Thanks for the great tips. I think I’ll give it a try!

View Everett1's profile


213 posts in 2735 days

#3 posted 03-06-2012 07:22 PM

I’m working on a QSWO side table, and I plan on fuming it with household ammonia. My test pieces look excellent. Only issue with ammonia is it won’t all be the same exact shade, but I don’t mind that, i’d rather it looks how wood should look natually.

-- Ev in Framingham, MA

View normrep's profile


21 posts in 2597 days

#4 posted 03-07-2012 12:01 AM

How will you do the fuming process without fuming yourself! I would be interested in knowing how you approach this…

View Vincent Nocito's profile

Vincent Nocito

485 posts in 3565 days

#5 posted 03-07-2012 12:37 AM

You can build a temporary fuming chamber using pvc pipe and fitting from the BORG. Use polyethylene sheetes with as the tent. They sell self stick zippers for building drywall dust barricades . The ammonia really should be 26% from a blue print shop. The 3% household stuff is too weak and it may never give the results you are looking for.

As far as the question of poly instead of sanding sealer, I usually use either oil/varnish (general finishes) or tung oil over the dye coat. I use water based aniline dye instead of alcohol to avoid overly fast drying. The downside is that it will raise the grain and require a light sanding after the dye. On the positive side. the sanding removes some of the dye and help the rays pop. I would avoid trying to compress the dye/sealing galzing step too much or you may be disappointed with the results. Google Jeff Jewitt. He had recipes for various Stickley finishes. There have been a few references to his procedures on the site that may give you a lead. There was also an article by Kevin Rodel in FWW many years ago about fuming.

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