Wood & Stain combination for a Coffee look

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Forum topic by Swyftfeet posted 04-29-2013 01:29 PM 1082 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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170 posts in 2136 days

04-29-2013 01:29 PM

I’m looking to use the cope & stick set that I used on my chest to make a built in cabinet system for my bathroom. SWMBO really likes the darker looking woods she sees at the Borgs(HD&Lowes) with a fine grain. Any suggestions on what cheaper alternative woods/stain to use to emulate the more expensive dark mahogany look?

Thanks ahead of time!

-- Brian

3 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


4682 posts in 2315 days

#1 posted 04-29-2013 02:59 PM

Avoid the pines if you can. Staining it dark is difficult w/ blotching and grain reversal. To save money on mahogany, cherry would be a good choice or even poplar. Poplar is a bit soft for cabinets, but is cheaper than about anything else.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 1857 days

#2 posted 04-29-2013 03:13 PM

Coffee colour = oil based finish on black stain. Mixing in a tiny bit of dark red mahogany stain in with the black will give you more of the “espresso” colour people are used to seeing at furniture stores – however, most of those finishes are sprayed on and cover up lots of grain detail, so replicating that look exactly is not possible if you don’t do the same.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5620 posts in 2777 days

#3 posted 04-29-2013 06:01 PM

General Finishes Java gel stain is that color, and it darkens light woods such as poplar pretty well.
Gel stains tend to obscure the grain though. Many cabinets and mass produced furniture pieces use gel stain, or tinted lacquer to obscure the grain. It almost looks painted.

I prefer to use nicely figured hardwood and a medium brown oil stain. I prefer wiping stains over gel stains because you have to go over the stain with a rag multiple times, with the grain direction to remove the excess gel. Some use gel stains to prevent blotching on cherry, or some of the softer hardwoods. They claim to like it because you can manipulate the finish to darken sapwood, and control the color a bit. I see it the other way around – you have to continually mess with the color to get it right. Then you notice one section with excess gel, and you have to start over.

With oil stains on hardwoods like oak, you don’t have to use gels or pre-stain conditioners which makes them more desirable and easier to work with.

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

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