Finishing Red Oak

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by ralmand posted 06-17-2009 03:44 AM 9882 views 2 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ralmand's profile


162 posts in 3352 days

06-17-2009 03:44 AM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing red oak table help

I have started my 1st indoor piece of woodworking. I am building a wall table out of red oak. So far, I happy with my design and build, but I worry about the finishing portion of it. I have a Wagner HVLP sprayer. I would like to stain it close to a cherry finish, or similar. Any suggestions as to the products, techniques, etc. would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks
P.S. The table as built thus far can be viewed here:

-- Randy, Allen Texas

10 replies so far

View Allison's profile


819 posts in 3849 days

#1 posted 06-17-2009 03:56 AM

It is looking real good! Can’t wait to see the finished project!

-- Allison, Northeastern Ca. Remember, Amateurs built the Ark. Professionals built the Titanic!

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3818 days

#2 posted 06-17-2009 04:10 AM

ugh… its gonna be quite a challenge but its possible. not familiar with the wagner sprayers so i dont really know much about them. but heres how i would attack it. first make sure everything is prepared sanded all the edges knocked off etc. then start with a trace coat which is a diluted dye that raises the grain and will show any imperfections that are on the surface. sand all that off and youre ready to finish

then its gonna sound crazy but try it out on a piece of scrap and see how it goes. first a good thing to do is start by spraying the whole piece one color to tie it all in. in this case since cherry is a more orangish wood spray it with a yellow or amber dye. it will usually take about 3 coats to tie everything into one consistent color.

next spray a little 1 or 1 1/2 pound cut of shellac on to seal in the die. once that is dry lightly scuff not sand it with some 400. make sure to stay away from the edges as a sand through is a nightmare.

from there do some experimenting with some water based stains and try to find a color as close as possible to what youre looking for. maybe a reddish color or something around there.

then probably youre best bet for finish would be some water based poly like general finishes high performance. you can spray one coat right now. and once that dries scuff again with some 400 or 320 and add a coat of water based glaze to try and get youre color dead on. if youre a little off still you can add another topcoat and them some more glaze of slightly tint the rest of your topcoat to bring the color in.

last but not least finish off with the rest of your topcoat. this sounds like a lot of work but once you get into it it really isnt and the water based dry fast so this finish above could all be done in maybe 2 or 3 days. try to get that speed with oil based stains and things. also this will be much more consistant than using oil based stains. just spray light coats of the dye and make sure that that background is really consistant because everything else on top will accent off of it.

also another note… use high quality products… not minwax… i would really recommend general finishes for all of this

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3818 days

#3 posted 06-17-2009 04:16 AM

oh and also on red oak filling the grain is a very very good idea if you want good results. i would recommend trying out the timbermate fillers. they come as a wood filler but you can thin it to fill the grain also. and its waterbased so it will be compatible to all of the water based stuff. if you use an oil based filler…. well…. just dont

View James's profile


162 posts in 3331 days

#4 posted 06-17-2009 04:19 AM

i have pretty good success just hand rubbing watco danish oil on red oak. then use either wipe on poly or paste wax. red oak usually finishes pretty easily that way for me

-- James, Bluffton, IN

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10146 posts in 4102 days

#5 posted 06-17-2009 05:13 AM

I remember The Woodwhisperer having a podcast, near the beginning of his efforts, on finishing / filling pores, etc.

You might check it out…

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3575 days

#6 posted 06-17-2009 03:38 PM

I’m sorry, but I am not a fan of water based finishes. They do not give character to the final product IMO, and leave the piece a bit lifeless. I’d stick with a quality stain like sherwin williams, and finish with a wipe on varnish, which is easy to make yourself using boiled linseed oil, mineral spirits, and either varnish or polyurethane.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3818 days

#7 posted 06-17-2009 04:29 PM

that is true julian. but mainly when the finish is put on raw wood. when you put a waterbased topcoat over a water based stain or dye they really come alive. just like putting shellac over alchohol based dyes. i find if you stick to the same carrier over the whole project the results are much better. but to use oil based and get a cherry look is gonna be hard on red oak.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3530 days

#8 posted 06-17-2009 08:34 PM

I dont think you will have too much trouble staining red oak. I find it stains very even and takes the stain well. Just be sure to sand it with the final sanding using a very fine sandpaper. I would pick up a few 1/2 pints of various colors that interest you and try it on some scrap pieces first until you find the color that you want. Dont forget to stain the wood a couple of times or more with the same color if you want it a bit darker. I usually apply it with a brush and then take a soft cloth and wipe it down. Then you can seal it with poly. I find that Minwax polycrylic works well and it drys quick. Check out my project list. I have a jewelry cabinet in there that is red oak. It is stained with an oil base Minwax stain, and polycrylic sealer. The issue that I had was to match it to a friends antique bedroom set. I bought about 5 small cans of stain before I found the one that matched. You could also try a custom mixed stain.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View ralmand's profile


162 posts in 3352 days

#9 posted 06-18-2009 03:44 AM

Thanks to all of you who offered advice. I have decided on what finish I am going to use. I started some TEST pieces this evening so I can see which ‘recipe’ I like best. I will post the completed project when it is done. IO really like this website, as I have learned so much from all of of you.
Thanks Again

-- Randy, Allen Texas

View a1Jim's profile


117159 posts in 3627 days

#10 posted 06-18-2009 03:51 AM

All workable solutions. I prefer SW wiping stain for oak and then a clear coat.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics