What does aged white oak look like?

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Forum topic by jmos posted 775 days ago 2452 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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681 posts in 965 days

775 days ago

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


111999 posts in 2173 days

#1 posted 775 days ago

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

-- Custom furniture

View Bearpie's profile


2584 posts in 1614 days

#2 posted 775 days ago

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


277 posts in 1175 days

#3 posted 775 days ago

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


1447 posts in 1110 days

#4 posted 775 days ago

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.

-- Paul, Tennessee,

View Brandon's profile


4136 posts in 1547 days

#5 posted 775 days ago

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


681 posts in 965 days

#6 posted 775 days ago

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

3829 posts in 924 days

#7 posted 775 days ago

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


256 posts in 2280 days

#8 posted 742 days ago

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 on gay marriage: "They should have the right to be just as miserable as the rest of us."

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