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Thread: staining walnut

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Default staining walnut

    looking for opinions:
    i will be making set of shelves with some beautiful walnut lumber i recently acquired. the wood does have some color variance, but is mostly very dark, with nice grain. would there be any advantage to using a walnut stain (would that even out any color variations), or will i be just as well off with a simple varnish finish.
    i have never worked with walnut before, and i plan to make 2 test pieces this weekend. one will be stained & varnished, one will be varnished only.
    i realize that this is probably a matter of personal taste, but i would appreciate any opinions.

    thanks

  2. #2
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    Default Re: staining walnut

    IMO nothing finer than a penetrating oil followed by garnet shellac on black walnut.
    Casey
    Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: staining walnut

    If you have very light areas it is sap wood, I generally cut that off for furniture. I don't like stain on walnut. Walnut darkens with age stain generally lightens with age.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  4. #4
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    Default Re: staining walnut

    Most woodworkers dislike varnish, especially urethanes, because of the plastic look they impart.
    However, if this is a surface tht will be subjected to real wear and moisture,urethanes give the most protection.

    I have long used The Watco Danish Oils. Danish oil is oil which has be fortified with a little varnish.It is applied like oil, allowed to penetrate, and then wiped and buffed off, leaving a soft patina. It gives a fair amount of protection without forming a surface film.

    JLMCDANIEL is correct about how natural wood and stains react. Stain is often used to stabilize the natural color of the wood and keep it from oxidizing darker.

    My wife sold fine furniture for years. Customers would order cherrywood furniture and then complain that it did not look cherry when it was delivered. She had to convince them that it would darken and redden within several months. It changes so fast that vases and plates on the display furniture in the showroom had to be constantly moved to prevent light rings appearing in the wood.

  5. #5
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    May 2010
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    Default Re: staining walnut

    thanks to all

    sombreuil: i've never heard of garnet shellac. how does it differ from the regular or dewaxed shellacs? is it colored?

  6. #6
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    May 2010
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    Default Re: staining walnut

    thanks for the input.
    i did a couple test pieces with danish oil, and it really makes the grain pop beautifully.
    i think i'll use the medium walnut danish oil with amber shellac. the shellac adds just the right amount of tint, and the grain is beautful.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: staining walnut

    Quote Originally Posted by iceman11 View Post
    thanks to all

    sombreuil: i've never heard of garnet shellac. how does it differ from the regular or dewaxed shellacs? is it colored?
    Garnet is a dewaxed but not bleached or refined grade of shellac that is sold in flake form; dissolved in alcohol, it makes a superb finish or works with excellent results for French polishing and English polishing alike. You can brush it on too, of course. The deep warm color brings out dark woods, but it's not yellow. A warm brown color in the jar.
    Casey
    Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2010
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    Default Re: staining walnut

    thanks for the advice guys.
    i did use the watco danish oil, followed by 2 (or 3 ?) coats of 1 lb. cut amber shellac, followed by about 6 coats of 1 lb cut clear shellac, and i think it turned out pretty well.
    i will experiment with different finishes in the future, but i do love the effect that the danish oil had.
    this project was actually a rifle rack, and i wanted to get close to the color & finish of the stocks.
    just for a little exta touch, the gun rests are adjustable (captive nut in a "T" slot), so that the guns can sit level. however, having the guns level means that the rests will be staggered from side to side. to hide that problem, i added a vertical piece on each side (shown installed in the second picture) that simply rests in a groove cut into the top & bottom shelves.
    i tried uploading pics, but i think they're too big. i'll try some other way

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    62

    Default Re: staining walnut

    I think a simple varnish finish will probably do the trick, but you could also probably find a quality glossy wood stain that will really give your shelves a pop.

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