I would like Oak to look very dark

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by moke posted 12-18-2012 04:05 PM 13637 views 1 time favorited 31 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View moke's profile


1257 posts in 2951 days

12-18-2012 04:05 PM

I am looking for recommendations to make an oak cabinet look as dark as walnut. I really do not like using gel stain, and normal stain just seems to not be dark enough. I am looking for recommendations,
Thanks for your help,

-- Mike

31 replies so far

View WillAdams's profile


82 posts in 2170 days

#1 posted 12-18-2012 04:08 PM

Fuming w/ ammonia?

If you want it darker (approaching black) there’s always ebonizing w/ the classic vinegar-steel wool (rust) solution—- I find you have to use a grain filler ‘cause the pores won’t take the stain though.

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2423 days

#2 posted 12-18-2012 04:11 PM

Try Watco Dark Walnut danish oil. My wife loves to use Minwax Ebony stain on a lot of things. On Oak veneered plywood it comes out almost black.


View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3333 days

#3 posted 12-18-2012 04:21 PM


Stain normally, which will give contrast to the grain. Then, add some dye or stain (same or different) to your first finish coat (I like dewaxed shellac) and spray it on top (brushing works too). This will give the darkness you need without having to resort to a gel stain.

Staining alone doesn’t get dark enough because it requires more absorption than the wood can yield. Using the finish as a vehicle for additional color (as a toner) will finish the job.

BTW, the same process is a great way to ebonize a project. Using ebony stain in an oil poly will really darken up a project.

-- jay,

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3333 days

#4 posted 12-18-2012 04:22 PM

I also concur with Joe that the Watco Dark Walnut Danish oil will probably give you the darkness you need.

-- jay,

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3919 days

#5 posted 12-18-2012 04:33 PM

Walnut aniline dye. Water based is the most color fast. You can top that with the Watco to even out the color and seal it.

View moke's profile


1257 posts in 2951 days

#6 posted 12-18-2012 04:36 PM

I am dreadful at finishing….I like regular old stain and wipe on poly or lately I have been using an earlex….it has worked for me for years…well obvioulsy not this time…
When you use dewaxed shellac do you put poly or varnish over it…is it just a prep coat?

As far as Watco, I actually have some of that, and like it a lot. I put it on with sand paper and it gives an awesome finish. I have always wondered how soon can you actually poly over it?

Thanks for the help…

-- Mike

View a1Jim's profile


117276 posts in 3752 days

#7 posted 12-18-2012 04:41 PM

I use General finishes dye/stain. With this product you can control the darkness by adding more coats or by thinning the product down will make a lighter coat.Other stains seal off the wood so after one or two coats that’s as dark as it’s going to get.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3333 days

#8 posted 12-18-2012 04:45 PM

Yeah, shellac becomes the first coat of the finish and you just use a normal finish atop of it…but to use shellac, you need an aniline dye like TransTint to color it. I like the dyes, and therefore I use shellac a lot.

But try this instead…

Take an oak test board with an oil stain of your choice and stain normally..which will pop the grain a bit. Then, pour a little of that wipe-on poly in a cup with a slight amount of that same stain. Apply to the board, preferably with the Earlex, but even if you wipe it on you’ll notice that the board will darken up with each subsequent coat…put a lot of the stain in the poly if you want it to get dark faster.

I recommend the stain first because using a toner alone can conceal the grain too much.

One of the easiest ways to solve unevenness when staining is to simply add some of the stain to the finish…but people hear the word “toner” and they freak out.

-- jay,

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3333 days

#9 posted 12-18-2012 04:49 PM

Experiment also using a ebony oil stain. Take a test board and stain it normally with many applications…and of course there is a limit to how dark it gets. Once at that point, apply the toner…and watch it get as pitch black as you want it.

-- jay,

View moke's profile


1257 posts in 2951 days

#10 posted 12-18-2012 04:59 PM

Thanks everyone——these are some awesome suggestions!!!

Limberjoe—-Watco is a “go to” product

-- Mike

View BorkBob's profile


127 posts in 2867 days

#11 posted 12-18-2012 05:02 PM

My granddaughter wants her china cabinet to be “dark reddish brown”. I’m using cherry because I have a bunch of it and the price was right. After many trials of many products, I am using red mahogany dye mixed in denatured alcohol for the first 3-4 coats. I’m then top coating with the dye mixed in thinned amber shellac.

This (lousy) pic shows the frame with 4 coats of dye and one coat of dyed shellac. The panels have 2 coats of dye.

-- Please Pray for Our Troops / Semper Fi / Bob Ross /

View pintodeluxe's profile


5783 posts in 2988 days

#12 posted 12-18-2012 05:03 PM

This is Varathane Dark Walnut on Quartersawn Red Oak, with lacquer as a topcoat. It is my second favorite brand of stain (first is Rodda), and is very easy to work with. It won’t streak, and gives a fairly dark finish.

This desk is the same stain on cherry. I used a washcoat of shellac as a pre-stain conditioner on the cherry desk.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2529 days

#13 posted 12-18-2012 05:09 PM

I use cabot stains basically for the same reason jim uses the one he uses. The cabot I use is a pigment stain instead of a dye stain, so it works differently from the minwax I only rarely use now days.

However if you can’t get it dark enough in one staining, you can always put a sealer coat on then glaze it darker, but unfortunately you need a pigment or gel stain for the glazing.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View bandit571's profile (online now)


21531 posts in 2858 days

#14 posted 12-18-2012 05:11 PM

Minwax Dark Walnut stain, two coats. Owner didn’t want anything else on it as far as a finish.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 3637 days

#15 posted 12-18-2012 05:19 PM

I used Minwax Ebony stain on a hall table a few years ago. I did use a sanding sealer under the stain to help with the blotching of the oak. It evens out the stain and makes it more uniform. The table is almost black. I would try it on a piece of scrap first to see if it what you want.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their

showing 1 through 15 of 31 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics