Adding lustre to stained woodwork?

jmasekNovember 6, 2011

Hi all -

I've built custom woodwork and cabinetry for our new house, and stained it using Minwax oil-based stains (mostly Mahogany and Ebony stain on Red Oak). Now, six months later, although the color is correct the wood has lost most of its lustre.

What's the best way to restore a moderate level of lustre to stained woodwork? Right now I'm considering:

- wax

- poly (but I want a gentle sheen, not a "plastic" look)

- danish oil (can this be applied on top of an oil-based stain)?

- Watco Rejuvinating Oil (has anyone used this)?

Does anyone have some advice? My priorities are basically (a) a natural, soft lustre and; (b) low maintenance.

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Minwax "Antique oil Finish" will probably be the best you can do. Wax over oil will not have much of any shine and will need to be renewed yearly at least. And the wax may make the pores of the oak unattractive.
The product I mentioned comes in a red can.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 10:56AM
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Plastic-looking poly is generally due to the wooden end of the brush, not the bristle end.

But to address your options:

Wax is generally a poor finish by itself. Virtually no protection. Once you use it, it inhibits and/or reduces the ability to coat with something else down the line.

Light coats of low-gloss (i.e., Satin) poly, or for that matter, another non-poly varnish would work well. You can brush these on or wipe on for easy to apply and thinner coats.

Danish Oil is not a well-defined product as each manufacturer makes up their own formula. Antique Oils, Teak Oils, the so-called "Tung Oil" Finishes, and [insert brand name] Oil are usually blends of lots of thinner, linseed oil, and a bit of varnish -or- simply a highly thinned (i.e., wiping) varnish. The more oil, the less build of the film. Also the more oil, the sooner they are going to look dull and need reviving. Not a problem, just add some more and wipe the excess off. Biggest problem here is not wiping off the excess and building up a sticky, soft finish.

I've not used Watco's Rejuvenating Oil. From the MSDS it appears to be mostly a highly thinned linseed oil. As such, it will need regular renewal. Instead of using this, I would probably just dampen a rag with boiled linseed oil and not pay for more than half a can of paint thinner (naphtha). It also (from the name) appears to be oriented as a "refresher" not the only coat.

If this was my project, I'd probably get a can of varnish, thin it 50-50 with mineral spirits, and wipe on enough coats to get the look I want.

I can also guess from your initial line that you applied Minwax "Wood Finish" thinking it was really a "wood finish." It is not. It is a stain with just enough varnish to bind the pigment to the wood in preparation for a finish coat.

Here is a link that might be useful: article on wiping varnish

    Bookmark   November 6, 2011 at 1:41PM
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Thanks so much for the replies. I'll try experimenting with wiping on the thinned varnish first, and also try some of the other options on a test piece.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 4:48AM
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"stained it using Minwax oil-based stains (mostly Mahogany and Ebony stain on Red Oak). Now, six months later, although the color is correct the wood has lost most of its lustre."

As you have found, stain is not a final finish.

A more durable top coat is needed.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2011 at 3:29PM
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