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Thread: Why do you Stain wood?

  1. #1
    Join Date
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    Why do you Stain wood?

    Don't mean open up a can of worms, but?

    I just read another thread about staining wood, in this case Red Oak.

    What's wrong with a woods natural color.

    All woods have a natural beauty of their own, so I can't understand why we can't leave well enough alone.

    I can understand using a less expensive wood and trying to make it look like a more expensive wood, but not changing the color of Cherry or other "Good" woods.

    Bruce
    "The great thing about Wood Turning is that all you have to do is remove what's not needed to have something beautiful. Nature does tha Hard work."

    M.H. Woodturning, Etc.
    Peoria, Illinois 61554

  2. #2
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    i dont particularly like the natural color of red oak so i will always stain it or use something else (dye, etc) to change the color

    something like walnut or cherry i could see not changing the color but plain oak is too, well, plain IMHO

  3. #3
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    Bruce, don't get me going...

    Of all the major bumps in the road in my years as a painter, staining probably accounts for 99% of them...

    "Can we match this pine to this oak?"

    "Sure, buy some oak to replace the pine!" (Except you can't SAY that to a client, unless you prefer more former clients than future ones.)
    Jason

    "Don't get stuck on stupid." --Lt. Gen. Russel Honore


  4. #4
    even though I hate to admit it (as I prefer natural wood) staining can be discretely used to even out variations in wood when there are a lot of pieces that don't match well...I don't mean staining cherry to red mahogany rather maybe using golden oak thinned out to add just a bit of 'even' tone to a project....I prefer to make projects a PITA and spend time matching woods before I use them in a particular area, but even on my latest project I found myself whipping out some colored stains (I've been using MinWax #209 natural to make the grain pop) to make splice joints blend in better when the woods didn't quite look acceptable...I used the colors after I had applied the 209 so it didn't absorb easily and was fairly controllable....

  5. #5
    Its a practice I have never understood myself either Bruce. I always hear of folks saying something like, "I stained this piece to look like walnut or cherry" and my thought was always why not just use walnut or cherry in the first place??
    I can see if someone is trying to match something as in a repair or something, that makes perfect sense. Other than that I dont have a lot of use for stain.
    If at first you don't succeed, look in the trash for the instructions.





  6. #6
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    I have always thought that God (or whoever/whatever you believe in), made different colors of wood for a reason.

    It is my opinion that most woodworkers use stain only to satisfy a customer who is asking for it. Most of these customers are trying to save money or simply are not aware of what different colors are available in wood to begin with.
    Dewey

    "Everything is better with Inlay or Marquetry!"


  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Shiverdecker View Post
    Don't mean open up a can of worms, but?

    I just read another thread about staining wood, in this case Red Oak.

    What's wrong with a woods natural color.

    All woods have a natural beauty of their own, so I can't understand why we can't leave well enough alone.

    I can understand using a less expensive wood and trying to make it look like a more expensive wood, but not changing the color of Cherry or other "Good" woods.

    Bruce
    because even with quality woods, when it comes to architectural details, there are other considerations.

    i have cypress windows, because cypress is very weather resilient and also very stable in varying moisture environments. i have old growth yellow pine trim and upstairs floors, which looks great, but doesn't look anything like the tiger oak floors i have downstairs.

    so how do i make these all look similar in color? the only way is to color them.

    they're all quality woods, just different.

    leaving them all their natural color wouldn't work at all. it would all look pre-packaged, pre-finished, and installed without the owner or installer caring about the end result.
    Last edited by Neal Clayton; 03-29-2009 at 3:45 AM.

  8. #8

    I am also a "no-stainer"

    I like the natural color of wood. As for the idea of making oak look like walnut for a customer, I explain that the labor involved will drive the price way past the cost of walnut and still never look as good.
    I can understand why someone would think they want to stain wood to match a particular color scheme but why? Wood is natural like stone and natural 'things' tend to go with eachother. You can put oak, mahogany and pine in the same room and they will still 'go' together.
    The only time I can see staining (coloring) wood is if you have to make a repair on a particular piece of furniture. Other than that I buy the 'color' wood I want.

  9. #9
    When I do...here's a few reasons why I stain wood...in no particular order...(except for #6)

    1. Maximum impact of natural color.
    2. Enhance the grain.
    3. Better match the existing conditions.
    4. Speed up the natural color change.
    5. Because that's how I want the particular piece I'm building to look.
    6. Because that's what the customer wants.
    Glenn Clabo
    Charlestown Navy Yard

  10. #10
    Wood is nothing more than a medium for artistic expression. I would agree that there are some domestics (walnut, cherry for example) that do not need enhancement to be beautiful. But, some wood just cries out for dye/stain. Curly maple can be beautiful as is, but it can also be dramatic when dyed/stained, as can QSWO. Take the piece below from a post by Lou Sansone. One would be compelled to agree that the dye really sets off the grain in the maple - and one of my favorite looks.


  11. #11
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    John... game, set, match. The piece is the perfect example and the comment about artistic expression could not have been said better.

  12. #12
    For the same reason my car is painted, my clothes are dyed, and my walls aren't drywall colored.

    It is all a matter of style. Natural being a great one.

  13. #13
    I think wood grain is like beer; it's an acquired taste. I think a lot of people stain wood to hide the grain. It's only after you work with it naked that you really appreciate it for what it is. From that point, staining and dying are seen more as tools for evening tone or highlighting figure.

  14. #14
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    So far I believe the comments have been from Flat board workers. I can agree with most of the reasons, and Artistic concerns are valid.

    As a turner, I currently DO NOT color enhance any of my pieces. I have not found the need and for Popping grain, I polish the wood through 4000 grit and start my finishing with a wipedown with mineral oil.

    Here is a sample. Mineral Oil only and buffed.

    IMG_1018.JPG

    Bruce
    "The great thing about Wood Turning is that all you have to do is remove what's not needed to have something beautiful. Nature does tha Hard work."

    M.H. Woodturning, Etc.
    Peoria, Illinois 61554

  15. #15
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    Aug 2007
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    Connecticut
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    Because not all wood is perfect, and on a large job like a library you won't get everything to look the same. Stains and toners help blend all of it together - the solid wood, plywood and molding. I don't really look at it as cheating the natural color - if you do it well you're just enhancing it. Besides at the end of the day its not what I want its what the customer wants and it is what they pay for.

    I am however not a fan of taking perfectly beautiful wood like black walnut and bleaching/staining it dark when its absolutely beautiful as is as long as there is no sap. But I've done it before. Again, its the getting paid part which is the motivator.

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