What does aged white oak look like?

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Forum topic by jmos posted 06-07-2012 05:16 PM 5860 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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807 posts in 2244 days

06-07-2012 05:16 PM

Topic tags/keywords: oak finishing arts and crafts

I know that cherry darkens as it ages, but what about white oak? Does it change color?

I’m finishing a Harvey Ellis design bookcase that’s all QSWO and I’m kicking around finish ideas. I’ve got a couple of formulas for trying to replicate Arts & Crafts finishes, and I’ll put together some test boards and see how they look. Then the Boss will pick what she likes.

I’m thinking of trying some blonde shellac over raw wood to see what it looks like. I was wondering what happens to QSWO as it ages with just a clear finish?


-- John

8 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


116813 posts in 3452 days

#1 posted 06-07-2012 05:19 PM

It kinda works like this ,dark woods lighten and light woods darken.

-- Custom furniture

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 2893 days

#2 posted 06-07-2012 05:32 PM

There is no clear “set in stone” rule for what finish is supposed to be used, it is what you or the customer wants

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View jdmaher's profile


417 posts in 2454 days

#3 posted 06-07-2012 05:37 PM

I built my outfeed / assembly table out of (donated) white oak 20+ years ago. I sealed it with a couple of coats of 1 lb. shellac, then 3 coats of poly. It’s in my basement shop, but it looks exactly the same as it did the day the poly cured. Yellowish. No color change whatsoever. None.

One of the current mags has an article on getting that “fumed” white oak Craftsman look, using normal finishing. I’ve always liked that warm brown . . .

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View Tennessee's profile


2672 posts in 2389 days

#4 posted 06-07-2012 05:46 PM

I had a house in PA that was built in 1896 with oak trim, oak stair treads. In reality, the only thing that darkened was the finish. On the other hand, the barn had a lot of white oak on it, and it looked a lot like brown oak until you cut one up. Where weather hit it directly, obviously it was gray.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 2826 days

#5 posted 06-07-2012 07:15 PM

If you keep your cat’s litter box adjacent to the bookcase, there’s a chance it’ll darken. :-)

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View jmos's profile


807 posts in 2244 days

#6 posted 06-07-2012 07:42 PM

Thanks guys!

I didn’t think it changed color much, but I thought I’d check. I still think I’ll do a test board just to see what it looks like.

-- John

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

7564 posts in 2203 days

#7 posted 06-07-2012 08:01 PM

I have both red and white oak timbers in my house….

both milled and joined and finished the same way with BLO/Turprentine mix. Both looked the same initially.

The red oak took on an orange/amber hue… and didn’t change much over the years

The white oak took on a brown hue with just a hint of an olive shade.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View tbone's profile


275 posts in 3559 days

#8 posted 07-10-2012 09:45 PM

For the record, Gustav Stickley started fuming his white oak furniture to “produce quickly the mellow darkness of hue that formerly was supposed to come from age alone.”
I believe that by the time Harvey Ellis was working for Stickley, they were fuming their furniture less and using aniline dyes more…but always with the intent of darkening or ‘aging’ the wood.

-- Kinky Friedman: "The first thing I'll do if I'm elected is demand a recount."

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