What is your favorite, off-the-shelf walnut stain?

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Forum topic by Millo posted 12-21-2012 02:02 PM 1333 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Millo's profile


543 posts in 3045 days

12-21-2012 02:02 PM

I have a table built with air-dried walnut, but whose legs are made with kiln-dried walnut. The difference in color is obvious. I have tried several things on samples and it seems that the only choice to get them somewhat close to one another before topcoating will be to stain. I much prefer the color of the air-dried walnut—a deep reddish, purplish brown—to that of the kiln-dried walnut.

What is your favorite walnut stain FOR WALNUT? Thanks.

5 replies so far

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3154 days

#1 posted 12-21-2012 02:23 PM

I don’t believe you’ll get uniform treatment of both walnuts by staining first. But if you mix that stain to the finish, you’ll get much better results. I’d choose Transtint dye (dark walnut, mission brown, or others) within some dewaxed shellac and experiment that way. Experiment on samples with a proper mix of colors and then finish afterward with your choice of film finish (shellac, lacquer, varnish, whatever).

Alternatively, if you find an oil stain you like, I’d mix that directly into some wipe-on poly and do the same thing. Then, finish over that with clear poly. Really, when using a “toner” like this, it depends on what your final finish will be.

Keeping the stain atop the wood gives you more of a likelihood that the color will come out even between the two disparate woods. Staining different color woods will still produce two different results most of the time, especially if the color difference is quite severe, IMO.

By the way, if you do the toner method as described, I’d seal (washcoat) the wood with clear shellac first. This helps to assure that the toner stays atop the wood and doesn’t act like a stain by penetration (which somewhat defeats the purpose).

-- jay,

View Wdwerker's profile


333 posts in 2229 days

#2 posted 12-21-2012 02:23 PM

I would try thinning out your walnut stain to sneak up on a color match. I use M L Campbell WoodSong II American Walnut stain but never use it on actual walnut. This stain has dyes and pigments in it.
Do not sand finer grits when you are trying to use a pigment stain. It leaves the surface too polished for the pigment particles to stay when you wipe it off. You can sand end grain to a finer grit to prevent it from getting too dark.
Kiln dried walnut is steamed during the drying process, it helps color up the sapwood, but it muddies up the colors in the heartwood .

-- Fine Custom Woodwork since 1978

View Millo's profile


543 posts in 3045 days

#3 posted 12-22-2012 01:27 PM

Thanks, guys…

Cosmicsniper, I might go ahead and NOT stain at all. I am doing other things these days and it looks like I won’t get to tocuh this table just yet, before I leave for vacation. I guess I’ll pick it up next year.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3476 days

#4 posted 12-22-2012 02:05 PM

I like Watco Danish Oil. It comes in several shades from natural to dark walnut.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3740 days

#5 posted 12-22-2012 11:26 PM

I use dark walnut aniline dye to even out the colors, when needed. If you’re after the reddish color, you might try the dark oak dye. It has a reddish tint to it, where the walnut is basically brown.

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