The dreaded dark stain.

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Forum topic by mporter posted 03-07-2013 11:41 PM 892 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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253 posts in 1996 days

03-07-2013 11:41 PM

Ok, I have made several pieces of furniture for people in the 23-36 age category. Every single one of them wanted the furniture stained dark. You know the color I am talking about, every Walmart/Ikea/Target piece of furniture is this dark color. I guess you would call it “espresso.” Anyway, I have tried to duplicate that color many times and failed every time. I am usually making the furniture out of red oak. I have been through every dark color of stain minwax has to offer, but none of them are dark enough. I tried to dye the wood with transtint dark walnut and it looked HORRIBLE! What is that stuff good for anyway? I finally bought some general finishes Java gel stain. It looked promising, but the open grain parts of the wood looked awful. Should I use a pore filler? And if so what? What do you guys use to get that “cheap crappy doesn’t look like wood anymore” look?

3 replies so far

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 1779 days

#1 posted 03-08-2013 12:49 AM

You can make your own by starting with a can of dark oil based stain (I like ZAR), and adding black and red iron oxide pigments from

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3162 days

#2 posted 03-08-2013 01:03 AM

If they want it that dark, change over to maple or even poplar. Use an aniline water based dye. Seal it with tung oi and top coat with a dark tinted varnish or poly. Or if you don’t want it to look like wood, just paint it.

View WdBtchr83's profile


1 post in 1350 days

#3 posted 03-09-2013 05:49 AM

I just made a couple pieces like that out of red oak. I used a dark walnut dye to start. I did 2 or 3 coats of dye. Then I added a few drops of dye (Van dyke Brown mixed with black) to some lacquer and made 2 or 3 passes, then 2 coats of clear lacquer. I try and do lighter coats in as few coats as possible. I find its easier to repeat the results.

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