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Espresso color on maple wood

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Forum topic by pwalter posted 12-15-2012 05:19 PM 3172 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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pwalter

77 posts in 1329 days


12-15-2012 05:19 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing maple espresso

I know I made a huge mistake making shelves for a nursery out of maple, but I had so much left over from a previous project that I felt that I had to use it up. I went to rockler and bought GF Dark brown water based dye. I also bought GF espresso stain. No matter which I use, if I wipe off before it dries, it looks a little blotchy, and to light of a color. I want the color to be VERY dark brown. I tried tinting water based poly with the dark brown dye, and after 2 coats the color is more red than brown. I also am only sanding to 120. I was told maple will accept the stain or dye better if I don’t sand past. Any and ALL suggestions will be greatly appreciated!


8 replies so far

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Dan Krager

1726 posts in 979 days


#1 posted 12-15-2012 06:30 PM

Maple is notoriously difficult to stain darkly because it is so dense.
There are two general types of wood coloring agents, stains and dyes. Both come in solvent and water based versions. A professional commissioned to “stain” maple would likely use a combination of several steps to achieve the desired intensity, the old timers using solvent based and the greenies using water based. All these would be sprayed. The first step would be to condition the maple with a sealer and toner to ensure uniformity. These would be fast drying and deeply penetrating. Then an intense aniline dye, maybe dissolved in alcohol for deep penetration and color build. Two or more coats may be needed. A thin sealer coat may be necessary here to set the dyes depending on build. Next a glaze, which would fall into the stain category because it is an intense dark color pigment suspended in a solvent, sprayed on liberally and wiped to the desired intensity. Here is where color highlights and darker recesses are created. Not much penetration occurs here, it’s more like a paint really. Finally a clear sealer and two or more top coats with progressively heavier build that are compatible with the well dried glaze. There may be a spatter spray between the sealer and top coats for “distressing”, or some touch up shading.
It is nearly impossible to match the quality of that finish with a simple brush or wipe on finish. It would be like brush painting enamel on a car compared to the slick production finishes used. Now, that being said, there are some simple finishes that work well on most woods, but not so much on hard maple, even if you quit sanding early.
I always recommend a clear finish on hard maple because it keeps things simple and easier to maintain. Dark finish of any sort on light wood is asking for repair work soon. No mistake on the maple, just making it dark is not so easy!
Good luck and
Merry Christmas!
DanK

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL http://www.kragerwoodworking.weebly.com

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pwalter

77 posts in 1329 days


#2 posted 12-15-2012 07:08 PM

That is a lot of information! So, I should use something like a shellac to seal the maple, then a dark brown dye. Then add another seal coat, shellac? then stain? Then my finish? Sorry Dan, I am just trying to dumb it down so I understand. I usually just use a clear finish. I’m not big into coloring wood so a lot of this is brand new to me.

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Dan Krager

1726 posts in 979 days


#3 posted 12-15-2012 07:41 PM

Didn’t mean to be “high falutin”!
Very very thin coat of shellac or other clear sealer to prevent blotching. There are spray cans of toner in a well supplied paint store. If it gets too thick the dye won’t penetrate it and you’re stuck. But yes, that is basically it. If you try to brush all this, there will likely be trouble. Spray if you can, carefully.
The hard part of these mulit coat finishes is that none of the steps give you the final appearance. Practice, practice, practice. It’s worth your time.
DanK

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL http://www.kragerwoodworking.weebly.com

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live4ever

983 posts in 1755 days


#4 posted 12-15-2012 07:52 PM

If I was going for a very dark color, here’s what I would do (and have done many times):

Use gel stain (doesn’t penetrate as deeply; gel sits on the surface). Seal it with shellac. You can certainly use a pre-stain sealer (e.g. shellac or other products), but they limit how dark you can stain the wood.

Add dye to your topcoats. It’s a bit of trial and error. This way you’re adding more color / darkening as you add the topcoats, and this can even out and tone some of the blotchiness you got from your staining. The downside is you might lose some grain clarity. However, you can sort of tweak as you go and switch to clear topcoats once you’ve achieved the color you want. I often will use 2-3 coats of tinted topcoat, then switch to clear for the final 2. This is dependent on how much dye you are mixing into the topcoats and how dark you’re trying to go. As Dan says, definitely best to spray.

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

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DaleM

923 posts in 2128 days


#5 posted 12-15-2012 08:01 PM

I just sprayed an entire set of kitchen cabinets, soft maple, that the buyer wanted to look like chocolate. I’m not talking about milk chocolate either, but dark, so it may be the color you’re looking for. I sprayed brown dye, diluted in dye stain reducer. That got it about halfway there. I then rubbed on and wiped off minwax dark walnut stain, now mostly there, but not quite, as it wasn’t evenly colored. I then had to lightly mist on some more minwax dark walnut over the lighter areas. I could have probably sprayed a little more dye in those lighter areas and gotten the same effect.
I sprayed vinyl sealer over that, then two coats of precat satin lacquer and it came out looking good.
Here is the link to the dye and the reducer.
http://oem.sherwin-williams.com/ca/eng/oem/products/sherwood_universal_dye_concentrates/?referringCategory=categories/wood/fillers_dyes_glazes_stains/

http://oem.sherwin-williams.com/us/eng/oem/products/haps_compliant_dye_stain_reducer/?referringCategory=supplies_and_equipment/solventsreducers/alcohols_glycol_ethers/

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

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Dan Krager

1726 posts in 979 days


#6 posted 12-15-2012 09:38 PM

Good tips, DaleM…at least that’s what I think. While live4evers technique works, most of the color is closer to the surface and probably more easily damaged. Sometimes, there just isn’t any choice but to “lay it on top”.
Superficially he wonders if a chocolate flavor could be mixed in just to tease everyone? :)

I really like your tag line, live4ever!
DanK

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL http://www.kragerwoodworking.weebly.com

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DaleM

923 posts in 2128 days


#7 posted 12-15-2012 10:57 PM

Thanks Dan. I think chocolate scent and color would have been nice too, but in my house my kids would be licking the cabinets all day. I didn’t see your post live4ever, so I guess you were typing while I was. Sounds good, but I haven’t used much gel stain and the only tinted topcoat I used was the notoriously crappy minwax polyshades. I guess there are a lot of ways to get to nearly the same end result. That’s what I like about woodworking; always something new to learn and try.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View cutworm's profile

cutworm

1065 posts in 1538 days


#8 posted 12-16-2012 02:40 AM

I made a shelf out of maple for my daughter to match her existing cabinets and they were espresso. I ordered the stain from the cabinet company. It was alcohol based dye and had to be applied with a spray gun. I put on one coat – dried almost as fast as I sprayed it on – and it was just a little light so I gave it another coat and it looked great. I waited about 30 min and sprayed a couple coats of clear lacquer on. Perfect match.
I’m now a fan of dyes and have used solar-lux dyes once since then. No problem with splotching.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

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