need help with walnut finishing please

springplanterOctober 24, 2010

I aquired about 15 planks of 30 yr old air dried American black walnut with the idea of using it for drawer fronts in my (not yet started) kitchen remodel.

We have planed and sanded one board to experiment with finishes.

Unlike circuspeanut in another thread, we very much like the appearance of the unfinished walnut with its lavender hue. I have tried a number of different finishes, from pure tung oil to poly and everything darkens the heartwood loosing most all of that lovely lavender.

I believe I have read all of the threads on walnut finishing, but haven't seen this problem.

Is there any way to preserve the non-finished look or do all options bring out the dark look?

Many thanks Carol

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Hi Carol

To start with, I would suggest wetting one board down with a rag or sponge dampened with water. This will give you the "true" color of the walnut. Walnut is a wood that changes ALOT when applying a finish. It's much lighter in it's raw unfinished state.

Is it possible to get that color? Yes, or at least very close, but it would take a high degree of knowledge and a vast assortment of colorants. The walnut would need to be bleached, and then the color could be built back up through finishing stages.

For the most part, I'd say what you have when you wet the wood is the best you could expect.

Best of luck & happy finishing!
Rod Keyser

    Bookmark   October 25, 2010 at 10:00AM
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Water based acrylic has the least darkening effect of any wood finish. I recommend "Sierra Beyond Satin" for your kitchen drawers. It is the best water based finish I have used. It is actually a paint base suitable for exterior applications. The only reason I do not use it more often is because it leaves the wood looking unfinished and I like the way oils, shellacs, and varnishes can intensify the natural colors of the wood.

I almost never use dye or stains. Someone really has to twist my arm to get me to do it. I developed the adversity to using stain as an apprentice cabinetmaker. Dark stains were popular at the time, and my assignments involved prepping and applying the finish schedule. I felt like many pieces of beautiful furniture were devalued by my work. Some woods should be stained, some not. Walnut should not be stained in my opinion.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 1:53AM
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It seems to me that walnut and cherry are the two most difficult woods to finish. Regardless of what you do, both will darken with age. To go along with the previous post, I realy don't stain either.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 11:58AM
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