Trying to match a stain
I’m going to be making floating bookshelves as part of project to finish my basement. I’m thinking of using 2X10 pine lumber, sanding, staining and finishing. I have a walnut dining table that I really like the look of – it’s been aging for a few years in a sunny room so it has golden tones now (see image).
I’d like to match the stain and finish as close as possible to this table. It has a flat, satiny finish not overly shiny. I would like to avoid using walnut wood as that will make this project more expensive than I’d like. I’m open to using something other than pine lumber if it’s really what’s necessary to get the effect I’m looking for, but would prefer a less expensive wood than walnut.
I’m open to testing a few approaches to see what works, but would like suggestions so I know a good place to start – colors, brands, specific techniques would all be helpful.
It's hard to stain pine evenly and I think you will find it very difficult to match the existing walnut. I suggest that you try Vandyke crystals made up into a moderate strength solution. If you have a spray gun it is then easier to use successive coats to reach a shade that suits you.
Even using this method, you might well get more blotching than you would like. The attached photo shows a dressing table (the piece in the foreground) I made many years ago and stained using this method. The wood however was poplar.
I agree with waterhead. Also, if you are talking about using 2x10 construction grade lumber, you are setting yourself up for additional problems. Construction grade is not as dry as what is needed for interior furniture. It is likely to warp and twist as your are working with it and, more importantly, after your piece is completed. I urge you to consider spending a bit more and using something like poplar. It is considered a hardwood but is not as expensive as most. Also, you will be more likely to match the walnut color you want. Another important point is that the grain of poplar is a closer match to walnut. I think you will find the small extra cost well worth it.
For color matching, you can also use something like Transtint dye. It is a color concentrate that can be mixed with either water or alcohol. Start with a pre-mixed color that is close to what you want and blend a few drops at a time with other colors until you get a match. I usually do this with very small quantities using measuring spoons and eye droppers. Take notes and, when you get what you want, upscale your formula for final application. Be sure to cover your samples with a few coats of clear (spray cans of shellac or lacquer are good for this) before comparing with your target color.
Look at Mohawk Finishes, they have a large selection and you might get lucky with the color choices. If you get a stain controller, Minwax come to mind, you will not get the blotches.
I'd steer clear of poplar. Imo, its colors, green to white, are too uneven to stain successfully. No matter how it's milled, the color doesn't allow for much more than a clear finish.
Best of luck,
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