Black stain on Oak

jennifer_in_clydeSeptember 28, 2005

I'm hoping to stain my red oak peninsula cabinets black...or a black with a deep brown tint. I've been "practicing" to see if I can achieve the finish I want, but think I need a more highly pigmented stain. I've been working with Minwax in ebony - and after 7 coats am getting "close" to a black color.

Is this to be expected or are there products that will allow me to achieve a deep color in fewer layers.


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Typically for a white or black or other "color" you don't stain. WE always tint the sealer and then topcoat with a clear catalyzed varnish. You still see the grain but the color is more vibrant.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 7:39PM
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Iron will produce an interresting Black finish on Oak......chemically reacting to the tannins in the wood......I've heard it called "Liquid Nightmare" or "Iron Oak"

One formula.......Steep rusty nails in vinegar and use the liquid to treat the oak......Wipe, brush or dip the pieces....allow to dry.....the color appears during the drying.........

another formula ........Iron "stain" is to crush iron vitamin suppliments and dissolve them in water or a water/vinegar solution........

    Bookmark   September 28, 2005 at 11:03PM
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Minwax is mosty a pigment stain. Try some aniline die stains, or the mentioned iron reaction.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 1:16PM
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Similar problem here and I consulted my local Rockler emporium this morning. I picked up 8 oz Japan Color by Behlen-"pure ground earth pigments" comes in Black, Van Dyck brown, other tones for $16. HYPERconcentrated stuff, like the colorants used to mix paints, and my little jar will darken vats of any non water based stain. I'm going to go play with it right now.


    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 4:03PM
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If you use pigments on wood you are just painting it black. The only 'wood' left will be any texture from open pores and stuff.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 4:17PM
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Sounds like I have lots of ideas to play with (thank goodness I have lots of sample pieces!)! I didn't realize iron would have that effect on oak!

celticmoon - I'd be interested to know what your results are too...


    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 4:23PM
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brickeye, I meant I'm going to tint the stain darker not use the concentrated pigment alone on the wood.

Just thought Jennifer might want to consider the option since 7 coats hasn't been dark enough. Can also tint the top coat as Tom 999 recommends - I think. Check with Rockler. -k

    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 4:28PM
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Pigment is pigment. You will not get a very solid black until you have completely obscured the wood grain.
Ebonization is the furnture trade name for turning a wood surface black.
When done with aniline dye a pretty decent black can be obtained while preserving at least some grain detail in the wood.
When performed with a pigment of any type, you end up with painted wood.
With 7 coats on you may as well just use some black paint. Aniline dye should have been the very first thing applied.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 5:05PM
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Is Aniline dye something I can purchase at a place like Rockler? Do I "dye" the wood and them apply a finish coat (ie use the dye instead of stain)...or is aniline dye something I mix with another finish or medium?

I think that may sound like a good finish for us - we'd like heavy pigment and aren't concerned about preserving much grain - but prefer not to do a solid paint job.

I may also want to experiment with adding pigment to my stain - I've considered staining and glazing the cabinetry to get the look I want...pigment may provide that sheerish paint finish also.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 5:37PM
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Jennifer et al

Well that Japan pigment will DEFINITELY take a gel on bare wood down to a dark that should be plenty dark. I can still see grain but I also get what brickeyee is saying: it is kind of on the wood not just IN the wood like a stain. But not a coat like a paint, like a soaked in smear? A pigmented smear rather than a transluscent smear? Looks like a dark stain to me...curious to hear more from Brickeyee on the dye even though that step is too late for me.
You could try another brand. The Java gel by General is pretty dark. I like their products better than minwax.

Good luck


    Bookmark   September 29, 2005 at 6:49PM
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Aniline dies are available from a number of places. Woodcraft has them, Rockler might.
They are available as powders (mix with water) or pre-mixed, usually as NGR- non grain raising- mixed with alcohol.
They are used before any other finish (except maybe a shellac wash coat on end grain) and die the wood. No pigments (of any particle size) but an actual chemical die.
They are considered the best way of changing the color of wood without obscuring the grain. They are still used on high end furniture, sometimes alone and sometimes with tinted top coats (toning lacquer). Less expensive furniture often uses just the toning lacquer for color.
Before trying any new finish combination I finish some of the scrap pieces of wood from a project all the way through to check for problems and appearance. If using a previous combination on the same kind of wood I may skip testing.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2005 at 1:23PM
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Brickeye, if it were not new wood and already had a finish, what steps would you recommend to get it a to a darker finish? Dye is not an option at this point, correct?

(Please don't say "paint")

    Bookmark   October 2, 2005 at 1:13AM
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Tinted lacquer is about the only thing that can change color besides pigment. Some is dye tinted, some is pigment.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 2:29PM
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I have done 100's of kitchens with black, white, blue, red and about every color you can think of. All were tinted sealers with a top coat over them. It allows the grain to show through, is durable, consitant, and with the clear varnish has a nice sheen to it. And its can use all the dyes, etc you want, if you don't know what your doing, especially in the areas of sanding it will come out uneven. You do need to spray the sealer to get a nice even coat, light sanding, then top coat twice, sanding between them.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2005 at 8:42PM
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Let's review - I've got 1987 sallow oak slab doors/drawer fronts and I'm trying to darken them to: Deep expresso color, less grain pattern, appropriate for a more modern look with stainless. There are 60.

Poly shades no good. I get that.

New wood can be dyed. I get that.

Stripping takes off finish, allows staining. I get that.

*however* Stripping is not an option for these veneer doors.
And they are certainly not new wood. After much conflicting advice and dead ends, I'm back to trying (careful) sanding and General Java gel darkened with Japan black. Not ideal, but not bad.

Tom999, for the love of Pete, puleeeeze, explain what exactly (brand/product) you mean by a "tinted sealer". I'd kill for "easy" at this point. Hope springs eternal and all, but I am prepared to hear you say you're starting with bare wood. Different ball game.

Stop teasing me - I've suffered enough (whimper)..... -k

1 Like    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 12:44AM
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I'm giving up on the *experts* and I'm gonna try your way and insert an Expresso layer after sanding. (While we wait for tom999 to explain what he means by his easy tinted method).

I think yours may resolve my last problem: too light color where there is the most wear. I don't expect Expresso to take everywhere without stripping, but it might take where I need it. Wouldn't it be a hoot to stumble on a way that works, breaking rules in the process?

A last note: the finish expert I visited yesterday showed me how the stain faded as it dries. *but* the color comes back up with the finish or sealer. Have you gone through to that final step?

Good luck with the gas thing!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 8:52AM
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Go to sherwin williams, ask for the high solids sealer, tell them you want a black color, they will tint the sealer for you. Spray the doors, lightly sand when dry, apply top coat.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2005 at 11:54PM
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Thank you!! That's what I needed: what and where. Hope it works!!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 11:57PM
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Just bought used oak veneer kitchen cabinets with a pickled finish. I was hoping to stain them black to keep some of the grain.
This conversation has me reconsidering painting them black instead. I am concerned about getting them sanded enough to have an even look with the stain.

If any of you have completed your projects and have ideas or suggestions, I would like to hear them. Would you stain again or just go with paint?

    Bookmark   October 31, 2005 at 3:51PM
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cbid - I haven't done the doors yet (we ordered new ones), but I've finished the boxes - including the large end panels - so I have a really good idea of how this is coming out.

I wanted a super dark brownish black and finally managed to acheive it!

I stripped my cabinets (used citristrip) which was surprisingly painless and did a super light sand (I thought about sanding instead of stripping, but my cabinets had been lacquer coated - which really needs to be removed to get the stain to "take" if yours just have poly you "might" be able to get away with just a light sand - careful though since the veneer is super thin so it's easy to sand through).

I used 3 coats of General Finishes water based gel stain in espresso - a dark non-yellowy brown. I finished staining with two wiped on, wiped off coats of water based General Finishes "Country Colors" in black. Covered the whole think with satin poly.

The result a super dark brownish black that I can still see hints of wood grain through - so it looks like wood instead of paint.

We're actually painting portions of our cabinetry a creamy white with an espresso glaze - and staining was MUCH easier IMO than the painting is (with the oak the grain is VERY open, so we've needed to fill it with several coats of wood filler and then are priming with several coats of BIN primer before paint. OMG SO much sanding - and sooooo much dust.) I like the painted look, but unless you are okay with the really open grain under paint (I liked it stained, but not painted)...the staining gave me the result I wanted more easily.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 31, 2005 at 7:27PM
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Well, this thread certainly is interesting. I have been given an old oak pool table that I want to strip and stain black. What do you all recommend I do - sand it first, then what stain should I use. I'm a rookie so I need some help badly. Thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 9:27PM
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wow what a thread. I as well seek the ultimate black oak. I have been blessed(cursed) with a ton of red oak. I cannot stand the color and want it to look ebony for my kitchen counter tops. I am using 3" thick quatersawn and have tried almost every thing this thread entails and have spent a ton of money looking for the magic bullet. Out of all the experiments the most striking of all the black oak is the rusty metal and vinegar. It took about 5 coats to get it black but it is beautiful. In truth its not just black but many colors from deep black to very very dark grey. Each color band in the wood takes on its own tone with the rusty metal. A few coats of semi gloss, which helps to even the color a little, and this counter is incredible, is unique, and cannot be replicated with store bought stains. The only thing that would make it nicer is about 20 coats of varnish with sanding in between each coat. On the next one I might try adding either crushed blue berry or poke berry.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 4:21PM
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WOW ,this thread is chock full of well I don't know.
First of all staining is a one time application,you don't stain things two three and 7 times. The idea behind a stain is the balance between the stain color and the wood grain. Why wood you want to stain something so dark that you can't see the grain. You might as well save the time and spray paint it black.

If you intend to stain something and achieve the correct results you need to prepare the surface properly. That means stripping off the old finish and the then evenly sanding the wood. Usually a 120 grit paper followed by a 220 grit will do the job.

You are wasting time and money if you are going to try and sand off the old finish. The friction created by the sander will only cause the finish to cake up on your sandpaper. You will go thru SHEETS of sandpaper. You are also pushing that old finish down into the wood. You'll never achive a clean surface to work with.

The person with the DOORS , you stated "stripping is not an option for these veneer doors" why ? Because they are a veneer ?

The basic problem with trying to achieve a black or expresso look from a stain that you buy at Home Depot ,Loews or your local paint store is that the basic consistancy of the stain is that of WATER. You need the ability to control the viscocity of the stain, you really need to be able to make a thick ,heavy bodied stain. This is easy to do.
Order "lamp black " from these guys
Scroll down to "U-T-C colors"
( I think it's about $14.95) use mineral spirits / paint thinner to thin it out. It's THICK . I suppose you could go straight from the can but even a little bit of thinner will make the application process so much easier. NOW you have the ability to "make your own stain" Make it thick and goopy and you'll achive that black but not so balck that I can't see the grain look.

Finish with clear coat of your choice,I prefer a lacquer.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 8:15PM
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hey- i got a trick for you- works like a charm. skip all the other stuff. im a professional furniture maker and every now and then someone askes for something made from ebony or with ebony accents- problem is- ebony costs a kings ransom and nobody wants to pay for it. but i have a compromise. INDIA INK will turn oak jet black - just like ebony. AND you can still see all of the grain patterns and texture.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2007 at 11:12PM
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Well Jenifer in Clyde I work in the specialty vehicle business and I just completed the interior of a command center for a city in Arkansas that wanted their red oak trim stained black To make a long story short I prepared the wood put on a heavy coat of Minwax Ebony stain ,several coats of cab acrylic sanding sealer and clear lacquer and I think I had the same look that you wanted, blackish brown. The only problem was the customer didn't like it , wasn't black enough so I fixed that, I poured the remainder of the ebony stain into a half gallon of cab acrylic lacquer and lightly sanded the wood again ,sprayed on several more coats of the mixture and the customer really likes it , What did I do I painted it black,which I wanted to do to start with but the customer didn't want black paint they wanted stain and you know that the customer is always right (,big smile) I hope after all of these responses you got your cabinets turned out the color you desired .

    Bookmark   August 12, 2007 at 7:34AM
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I've seen a black stain used on oak that turns it almost pitch black. It's based on a black powedered dye and smells of ammonia. Ammonia and tanic acid react by darkening the wood.

Where I've seen it used is for leveling the top of a table that's being planed or scraped flat. The black helps mark the low spots.

My question, how do you make this stuff? Simply mixing Behlen's Aniline black dye with a little ammonia doesn't make a color as black as I know is possible. Any ideas of ingredients or what to search for on the web? Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2007 at 11:01PM
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Bob 1998,
Maybe what you remember was a Solar-lux brand dye. Their reducer (water-based, sort-of) mixes with their liquid dyes and smells vaguely of _something else_, not alcohol anyways.
I would say that if the first coat of aniline isn't dark enough, layer on another. You can also use powdered and liquid dyes to tint lacquer or shellac to get color in the finish.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 8:01AM
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Thanks. I'll have to do some experimenting. Elsewhere I've heard this refered to as "ebonizing" which helps narrow the search.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2007 at 1:22PM
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I just ebonized a walnut Danish modern chair using India ink. I tried the vinegar/steel wool thing first but it didn't darken the wood much and I didn't want to fool around doing many coats.

I got a 2 oz. bottle of ink to see how it looked and ended up doing the entire chair with it. I even had a little leftover for touchups. It looks great! It's very black---a soft, warm black.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 8:25PM
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2 quick questions:
1) what is this india ink, and where can i get it?
2) when oak is sanded down, does it ever have a dark vein to it?

    Bookmark   September 20, 2007 at 8:06AM
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This has been very informative. As my intended project is a little different, I'd like to ask for advice on which of these processes/products should work best.

I want to stain (or some other process not paint) a parguet floor...its that old style parquet made up of narrow strips of oak with different grains exposed. It is stained in a dark walnut (20 some years ago) and any top finish has long been worn off. I would like to maintain the look of wood but get the floor as black as I can.

Any help is greatly appreciated.


    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 11:02AM
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I tried a test sample using "india ink". This was EXACTLY the look I wanted. You can see the grain, but has a uniform black color.

I googles "india ink" and read it is also called "lampblack." I am not sure if you get the same results with the product recommended by Stocky.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 1:57PM
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lincoln1313 - where did you purchase the "india ink"?
I want to change a light-honey colored oak headboard and foot board to a "blackish" color. I plan to strip the varnish? this weekend. What is the "fastest" way to strip? I never have more than one day off in a row so I need to do as much as possible in a single day.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 10:51PM
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Do you mix the India ink with anything before applying the ink to the wood? Did you use a brush? Do you finish with a top coat like lacquer? I am as much of a beginner as you can get! I've had to look up a dozen words on this site to even know what in the world everyone was talking about. I've been trying to paint an oak armoire for these last few weeks and have only met disaster. I sanded the armoire to prep it and then painted it brown. I applied a black coat over top and then finely sanded the edges to let the brown show through. I'm afraid it doesn't look how I quite wanted it to, not to mention I have spent hours, which have now wracked up to weeks on this project. The black doesn't look completely even and the oak beneath, not the dark brown paint color, is coming through. I'm getting a new oak armoire and I want to do this right! I also want something easy. :-) Can I apply the india ink, apply a glaze and then sand the edges to give it an antiquing modern look? Would I then need a top coat of something on top of that? PLEASE help me!!!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 12:19AM
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Hello, I have a new fiberglass front door with a wood grain look. I want it black. My painter said I must use a gel stain, but no one makes one in ebony. I've been reading about this India ink. Could I mix in the India ink into the darkest gel stain available (Expresso)? Thank you!

    Bookmark   July 28, 2008 at 7:59AM
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I built a large entertainment center this summer out of red oak and stained it pitch black using India Ink. I picked up the India Ink at a local atrist supply store for about $15 and applied it to the oak using a 2" paint brush. I put two coats on, the second after the first coat had dried.

After the second coat dried, I sprayed on 4 coats of water based polyurethane and it turned out perfect. The entertainment center is black as night, and the grain of the wood still shows through.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 4:01PM
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I used the general finishes product in ebony and espresso on my oak dining room table and it turned out great! I am getting ready to start my oak kitchen cabinets using the same procedure, but I will have some red showing through in the molding area on the doors. Hopefully it will look great too.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2009 at 4:51PM
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Hi guys...I have a ton of red oak that I plan to use for guitar fretboards...As some of you might know, ebony is the traditional wood used...So I am considering ebonizing my red oak...I am planing to try the indian ink, but I am concerned that since the fretboard will be unfinished, the ink might stain the fingers of the person playing the instrument...Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 11:02PM
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Fretboard guy, IMO you'd be better off dyeing the oak with steel filings soaked in vinegar. That will make an indelible black stain in the red oak by chemical reaction. You could also fume the oak with ammonia, but that would be brown not black.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2009 at 8:27PM
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"Hi guys...I have a ton of red oak that I plan to use for guitar fretboards...Any suggestions?"

Ebony is still available, and even as veneer.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 5:04PM
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Oh wow, this is all really helpful information. I'm having two big dressers custom-built of red oak, and I want them black or almost-black. I'm definitely going to try the steel wool/vinegar ebonizing trick on some scraps, but if that doesn't get the look I want, I guess I'll use black aniline dye? I've got some Behlen dry-powdered aniline stain (but in Sea Blue) that I used to great effect with water on a sisal rug. To stain the dressers, would it be best to mix it with water... or with alcohol? And is water-based polyurethane an acceptable topcoat for any/all of the above?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2009 at 11:51PM
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Here's some chatter from Down-under about the use of "Liquid Nightmare".....

Here are some web-examples of the color palette of the iron/vinegar stain on oak.......

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 19, 2009 at 11:45PM
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I will try the India Ink on my oak table. If I love the color, I will do my kitchen cabinets with it as well. Some refinishers recommend using a water based paste wax on wood to give it that beautiful buttery finish you see on expensive furniture. Would you recommend this for my cabinets, over the India Ink coloring? My cabinets do not seem to have a finish over the oak, so maybe they were waxed with the paste wax finish years ago. Has anyone done the two toned look of black cabinets and frames and left the door panels brown, or given the doors a mottled dark brown finish?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 9:30AM
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Wow this thread is great!! I also have a question. How about mixing the india ink into Danish oil-I love a rubbed oil finish but need to update an armoire made of pine that is oil finished. Or aniline dyes mixed with the Danish oil? Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 2:53PM
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Okay, I have read the whole thread. It's awesome. I am refinishing some pine bedroom furniture that was originally unfinished, and has suffered through a couple of unfortunate finishes. The latest one was latex paint and glaze with a top coat of store bought acrylic top coat. Now they are sticky and splotchy with knots showing through. Should I sand or strip or both? and I should strip, product recommendations. I already tried one that did NOTHING. I, like all the rest here want that blackish brown. Should I gel stain or should I got straight for the india ink?

CABINETS - I have read several posts here about refinishing your cabinets and staining them, etc. Am I the only one in the world who has cheapo cabinets? Mine are oak wood (most likely a veneer) only on the drawer fronts, and the cabinet doors. So I can envision staining those, but how have you stained the side panels, which are made of that compressed paper stuff that blisters with moisture? Surely you can't sand that stuff. Did you just paint the side panels?


    Bookmark   July 19, 2010 at 4:59PM
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Q: Should I sand or strip or both? and I should strip, product recommendations.
A: Sanding only is a particularly ineffective way of taking off finish. By the time you sand it all, go through lots of sandpaper, and probably won't be able to remove all the finish (that you might not find out until you try to re-color), you could have stripped many times over.

90% of strippers contain methylene chloride, that is a very effective stripper. Wear protective gear (gloves, eye protection, apron, etc) and work in a well ventilated area, preferable outdoors. Just go to the paint/hardware store or big box and pick up the heaviest can of stuff you can find that will have the highest percentage of MC.

Apply and rinse as directed, then do a light sanding to remove the fuzzies and any finish/stripper left in the crevices.

In order to seal the resins in pine knots, you need to seal with shellac. (more later)

As far as what stain to use -- the only way you know if the results you get are going to be acceptable to you is to buy a pine board and run some sample stains, plus the finish coats you plan to apply -- all the way start to finish. You can do this while the stripping process is going on.

If I can throw another hat in the ring, I have used General Finishes' Espresso stain a number of times. My only fault with it is that I find it lacks undertones, so I normally lightly pre-stain with a dark red or medium brown, and add the black with the espresso.

Pine is prone to blotch (absorb stain unevenly). There are two approaches to this -- gel stains and wash coats. A wash coat could be a highly thinned coat of shellac (that you will want to buy anyway). By highly thinned, we're looking at at least 50:50 with denatured alcohol. Maybe as much as 2:1. (a 1 to .5 lb cut). How do you know which is right for you? Test them on your test board. Manufacturers sell things called "wood conditioners" designed for you to apply prior to staining. Trouble is, they don't work all that well. And they work particularly poorly when used as directed. They work somewhat better if you allow to dry overnight before staining. That is, just like a wash coat.

Once your stain is selected and on your final project, let it dry and apply two coats of dewaxed shellac to seal the knots. I like Zinnser's Seal Coat. Just be sure to get some that is less than a year old (buy from a place that moves inventory).

You can then apply any finish you want over the shellac.

Q: how have you stained the side panels, which are made of that compressed paper stuff that blisters with moisture?
A: Take a good look. Often this is just a vinyl laminate that you can neither strip, stand, nor top coat. You can apply a new surface to it. I've used hardwood plywood, carefully trimmed and peel & stick veneer (this is what the "re-facers" use). Then you have raw wood that you can do what you want. I've also used painted bead board, if that suits your decor.

I know all this can be overwhelming. I highly recommend buying or getting a copy of Flexner's book from the library. You don't need to read it cover to cover, but read sections of interest or applicable to your project. You will have many hours invested in this and a few hours of education can save you from a disappointing result or do-over.

Here is a link that might be useful: Flexner's book

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 12:54PM
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This seems like a great forum. I stumbled across it just before I was going to finish our oak front door with Minwax Ebony (oil-based) stain.

Now I am having second thoughts about using that product, because I want the grain to show through. It sounds like there are at least 4 or 5 different techniques for getting a black finish while keeping the grain visible.

As I've read it, there are:

1. Aniline dye
2. Tinted sealer
3. Iron stain ("Liquid Nightmare" or "Iron Oak")
4. India ink
5. Japan Color by Behlen-"pure ground earth pigments"

There may be a few others that I missed in there or some variations on the above.

Our door is over 30 years old and looks like a lighter color oak and was painted white at some point. We've stripped the paint off using a citrus-based stripper (Citristrip? -- did not work too well) and moved to Jabsco chemical stripper. We used a heat gun during part of the process (due to temps b/t 40 and 50 degrees) and looks like we might have burned some of the wood.

We plan on sanding the burn marks off...possibly using 40 grit, then 80, then 120 using an random orbital sander.

I'm wondering if anyone has feedback on the different techniques mentioned in this discussion on light oak exterior doors.

Recommendations are welcomed.

Pictures of the door can be found at:

There are 2 pictures...just click the "next" button for the other one.

We also planned on using Minwax Pre-stain to achieve a more uniform color. Is this necessary with light oak? I've read that it's more necessary on pine and other woods.

Also, we planned on finishing / sealing with Minwax Indoor/Outdoor Helmsman Spar Urethane (clear semigloss).

Does anyone have feedback on using these products?

Thanks for any advice!

Here is a link that might be useful: Light Oak Door

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 2:22AM
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One thing I forgot to mention...

The door had several hairline (or slightly larger) cracks that I could see light through.

I patched those with Minwax wood filler, because it said it was stainable/paintable and at the time I was going to use the Minwax Ebony Wood Finish (oil-based stain).

Now I'm wondering if I use any of the other methods mentioned above (i.e., the aniline dye or India ink, etc.), how that will work with the Minwax wood filler.

Can someone provide some advice on the Minwax wood filler product?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 2:39AM
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6. Black paint, thinned and wiped on/off like a stain.

Minwax Helmsman is terrible stuff. With any exposure, it will be failing within a year. See the link below for an alternative.

Minwax pre-stain conditioner has limited effectiveness, particularly when applied as directed. It's rarely, if ever, needed on oak. Oaks normally stain perfectly well.

As far as "stainable" wood fillers: Do they take stain: yes, do they look like the wood around them, no. You might get away with it on a very dark finish.

Here is a link that might be useful: Using paint as a finish.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2011 at 6:46PM
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We just bought a new home and the kitchen is hideous. Part of the problem is that the cabinetry is an ugly orange brown color, and they have been overexposed to sunlight. Since I've never done any type of house work, the india ink method suggested by 'the chucker' sounds great. I'm assuming we still have to sand and strip prior to this? The big question is, aside from getting blinds, which we will do, how do we protect the cabinets from sun damage after we've redone them? Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 1:12PM
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Dear bobsmyuncle,

This is great information...thanks for taking the time to post it. I was wondering about thinned paint and you have confirmed it for me. Thank you for addressing my questions on pre-stain conditioners, wood fillers and Minwax spar urethane...

I'm getting into reading the links you recommended and am finding them very helpful.

Again, I can't thank you enough for taking the time to share your knowledge and post the links.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 7:01PM
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Dear bobsmyuncle,

I read through the linked articles...great info. I plan on using a neutral or "4" base of oil based exterior paint as the final application.

A couple of questions, though.

1. What type of exterior paint should I use for the thinned paint (stain) part of the process?

2. What should I thin it with? Paint thinner?

3. What ratio should I use to thin it?

Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2011 at 10:51PM
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I did a bit more research and found basically 3 choices for exterior paint:

1. Acrylic
2. Latex
3. Oil Enamel

From my reading, it seems that Oil Enamel may not be as durable on surfaces that expand and contract and takes longer to dry.

That leads me towards using Acrylic or Latex which apparently can be thinned with water or Floetrol.

Does anyone have recommendations which would be better (Acrylic or Latex) and what would be better to thin with to make a stain (water or Floetrol)?

I want to make sure I get this last step correct after all the time invested in prep work.

Lastly, what ratio of paint to thinner would be good to start with to make a stain for an exterior oak door? I would like to use a dark (black) stain with wood grain showing through. Thank you.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2011 at 3:32PM
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Im reading up on using india ink to stain/dye some red oak. I have read the one should use an ink and water mix, does anybody know what ratio of ink to water or do you just experiment until you reach the desired effect?

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 1:34PM
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India Ink is basically Lampblack (soot) and a binder (usually shellac) mixed with water. If you don't want any added binders you need to get liquid Sumi Ink. You can water it down, but if you want a true black finish I don't see the point.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2011 at 11:04PM
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Unbelievable...Many thanks to all of you. I've obtained so many good ideas and love knowing the results and the things to avoid. A tip from we mortals: It's very useful not to say 'any hardware store' as a source but actually give a name brand and major many sales persons have no idea what they are selling and I live in such a small town when I drive an hour and a half for a product, it's good to know exactly what I'm looking for. But I'm loving this site and appreciate all of you who have contributed from your own experiences. Thanks. gotta go try the iron nails and india ink now.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 3:02PM
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I tried ebony stains on bare wood and could not get to the level of black finish that i wanted. But then I tried the Minwax Polyshades (stain and polyurethane combination) and it gave me a solid black finish in two coats. I did a full set of cabinets and it is beautiful. it does completely obscure the color of the wood, but the grain texture is fully visible. so if you really want pure black, I highly recommend that finish.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 9:05AM
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