Dark red oak finishing recommendations

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Forum topic by mummykicks posted 07-30-2013 06:46 PM 1636 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View mummykicks's profile


109 posts in 1796 days

07-30-2013 06:46 PM

I’m building an art/drafting table for my daughter, and it’s going to be red oak/oak plywood. She of course wants it black, or maybe a really dark mahogany/red color.
I’m thinking stain with arm-r-seal (since I’ve heard good things about the general finishes stuff).
I don’t have a sprayer, so something wipe-on for both stain and top coat is preferred. I also don’t like cleaning brushes out, especially with oil based stuff.
I’ve heard decent things about the 1 coat stain/poly stuff that minwax offers as well.
I suppose I could paint it black, but that just feels wrong for some reason :-)

So any ideas are welcomed.

5 replies so far

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3736 days

#1 posted 07-30-2013 07:23 PM

You “Might” want to use a gel, for the red.
It can be a bit of a challenge to get plywood to take the same color as the oak lumber, just because there is only a very thin layer of red oak and its pores are often a bit “sealed” with glue from being layered up to make plywood.

If she really wants black, actually krylon spray paint does a pretty darn good job. If you don’t spray it thick, it soaks in and is like a combination of dye and stain.

With the Oak, the grain shows very well.

Others that make black furniture will use an alcohol or water based dye first. Then go over the piece with a pigment stain. Mainly because the dyes will fade to be more blue/gray in the sun. While the pigment particles in the stain will stay black. So the Stain+dye is more uniform over life.

Time for some test pieces.. especially to match ply with lumber.

Good luck

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2479 days

#2 posted 07-30-2013 07:43 PM

”I’ve heard decent things about the 1 coat stain/poly stuff that minwax offers as well.”

If you’re referring to Polyshades, run. Run like hell and never look back.

-- Brian Timmons -

View mummykicks's profile


109 posts in 1796 days

#3 posted 07-30-2013 09:12 PM

I guess I was referring to polyshades…thanks for the advice, I’ll avoid them.
I picked up a small can of general finishes black stain and cranberry red as an alternate. They looked about where I’d want them to on the in store samples. I’m definitely going to test. The gel stains didn’t appear to get dark enough, at least on the samples that were there. I’m guessing multiple coats and longer waits before the excess wipes would get them darker, but the oil based stains still seemed to have better color overall on both pine and oak.
One other question:
The general finishes gel stains appear to not require a topcoat?

View firefighterontheside's profile


18149 posts in 1850 days

#4 posted 07-30-2013 10:45 PM

To me a drafting table is going to need a pretty thick top coat such as numerous coats of polyurethane to fill the grain texture. I’m picturing her using a sharp pencil on one sheet of paper and the pencil following the grain lines. If it were me, I would get the color I wanted and then use at least three coats of oil based poly. If you apply it with a foam brush you can just throw one away after each coat and not have to clean brushes. Oil based poly will not dry quickly and will not hold the brush marks, especially from foam. Not drying quickly allows the poly to level itself. I use min wax oil based poly and have made tables with tops like glass after 4 coats.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View AandCstyle's profile


3050 posts in 2251 days

#5 posted 07-30-2013 11:41 PM

I just completed these speaker stands. They are red oak and red oak veneer plywood. I applied 2 coats of black TransTint dye which gave me a deep Welch’s grape juice color, then I used 2 coats of Minwax Polycrylic Ebony stain, finally, I sprayed 3 coats of Target Coatings EM6000. The first 2 can be applied with a rag or disposable brush. You would need to use a wiping poly for the top coats. FWIW

-- Art

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