Finishing suggestions on Poplar/Walnut Nightstands

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Forum topic by TravisNW posted 02-06-2014 03:54 PM 1904 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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9 posts in 1636 days

02-06-2014 03:54 PM

Hey everyone,

I’m nearing completion on 2 poplar/walnut nightstands and have been struggling with what color of stain or dye to go with. I’ve run a few tests with GF vintage cherry dye stain, as well as GF shaker maple & antique cherry water based stains, but I’m finding that each stain doesn’t allow the walnut to show through as much as I’d like. I’m using CN’s blotch control, so the stain lays down fairly well. Below is a picture of one of the nightstands before I put a half-round on all of the edges. I unfortunately do not have pictures of my test pieces, but can provide those when I get home from work.

Most of the furniture in our bedroom is dark which is why I’m not just laying down a coat of poly and calling it good, however I don’t want to obscure the walnut too much. I like the red tint that the cherry stains have, but am not opposed to going with a new color all together if I can find one that allows the walnut to show. Possibly a pecan or amber color?

I’m also playing with the idea of adding a small amount of dye directly to my semi-gloss GF polyacryilic to see if I can tint it to my licking and just use that instead of a stain, but I’ve never experimented with that and am unsure what the outcome might be.

I’m really just looking for suggestions from everyone on how you might go about darkening up the poplar a bit, without hiding the walnut strips. I’m hoping someone on the forum has some experience with these wood combo’s and was looking for the same result.


9 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117120 posts in 3603 days

#1 posted 02-06-2014 03:58 PM

View TravisNW's profile


9 posts in 1636 days

#2 posted 02-06-2014 04:27 PM


As noted, I used GF dye/stain in vintage cherry on my first test piece and straight GF WB stain on my next two. Is there a specific color you might recommend, or even better have had experience with on these wood types together?

View Tkf's profile


38 posts in 1954 days

#3 posted 02-07-2014 12:23 AM

Mask off the walnut and have at it.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2716 days

#4 posted 02-07-2014 01:53 AM

You might try some amber shellac. And add some dye to it if you want to go darker.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3068 days

#5 posted 02-07-2014 02:06 AM

I have used Puritan Pine, Min-wax, I believe it’s a amber color. Not sure how it will come out on Poplar though.

View TravisNW's profile


9 posts in 1636 days

#6 posted 02-07-2014 03:04 AM

Tkf, I thought about masking the walnut off, but I figured that the dye stain might still bleed under the tape in spots. Is this something you’ve had success with?

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3068 days

#7 posted 02-07-2014 01:25 PM

Tape it off then use a smaller brush or wipe on near the tape lines.
I don’t think you will get much bleed through if you get a good seal on the tape line.

I like to use FROG TAPE it has given me a good seal on paint haven’t used on stain though.
If you get a little bleed you should be able to sand it down.

try it out on a piece of poplar. just lie a piece of tape anywhere and see if you get bleed through.

If it’s a lighter color then the Walnut i couldn’t see it really causing much of a problem.

View TravisNW's profile


9 posts in 1636 days

#8 posted 02-07-2014 03:06 PM

Thanks for the tips guys. I tested some raw walnut with vintage cherry dye stained poplar and I think I like the look. Below is a picture of the clamped test piece with a light coat of polyacrylic.

I’m playing with the idea of using the following process to minimize bleeding.

1. Tape off poplar using frog tape
2. Add coat of Zinsser Sealcoat to the walnut and let dry
3. Remove tape from poplar and tape off walnut areas
4. Stain poplar & let dry
5. Remove tape from walnut
6. Add coat of Zinsser Sealcoat to antire surface to level it out
7. Sand & finish as usual with GF polyacrylic

I’m hoping that the extra step to add the de-waxed shellac to the walnut will help prevent the bleeding even more, but once again this is just speculation at this point. Anyone use this process?

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3068 days

#9 posted 02-07-2014 04:21 PM

All your really doing is trying to save the walnut from getting stain on it.
If you get bleed through of the seal coat on the poplar then it won’t
stain well and you end up with little spots.

I would stick with the original plan of just taping off the Walnut. JMO.

I have not tried your idea but I am sure others on here have.

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