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Toning down the red

Posted by CEFreeman (My Page) on
Tue, Sep 10, 13 at 11:07

Here I am again with another color question!

I've stripped and finished a bunch of 1979 oak cabinets. I gray washed then antiqued them, and I absolutely love them.

Now I'm working on some really gorgeous cherry cabinets that will go into the same space. I realize there is a significant grain difference. I've got the old finish stripped off and absolutely love the natural cherry -- except for the reddish, which comes out if I stain. So clear coating it is. :) But some remain too red. I'd love to "brown" them to be closer to the tone of my lovely oak. (Can't believe I'm saying that after despising the builder grade abomination done to oak!)

Color theory dictates I could add a tiny, tiny bit of green tint to the clear coat, which should translate into a brown.

Am I off base here, or is there a better idea?

I know most of you know the following and are probably tired of this, (So feel free to stop reading now!) but there's always someone ....

Before anyone has the (less than) brilliant quip of "buy matching cabinets," I'm rebuilding from a house fire alone, on a waitress income, and have picked these solid, beautiful cabinets up at reuse centers. Along with most of my building materials, actually. I don't have the luxury of "just" buying matching cabinets. I'm not concerned about matchy-matchy (thank goodness!) but would like the tones to be in keeping. So if that would be all you have to offer, please don't bother. If I could, I still probably wouldn't.

Thanks for your help!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Toning down the red

Actually, cherry browns naturally.

Look at the info linked.

Here is a link that might be useful: Finishing cherry

RE: Toning down the red

Thank you, Handymac.
I'm aware cherry darkens, which is not what I'm necessarily looking for.

The very first paragraph mentions my concern:
"Although the heartwood is a "salmon" pink with streaks of multiple colors running in it when freshly planed, cherry ages to dark color with reddish brown tones and strong orange/yellow undertones. "

I would like to tone down the red.
Interesting link, BTW. Thanks for posting it.

This post was edited by CEFreeman on Tue, Sep 10, 13 at 12:39

RE: Toning down the red

Your color theory is correct -- add green to tone down the red and shift toward brown.

The "green" that finishers use most often is Raw Umber. However, unless you go to an old-timey paint store, get a can of stain base and have them add some squirts of raw umber UTC (universal tinting colors -- the stuff on the carousel where they mix the paint color), it's not going to say "raw umber" on the label. It might be "light maple," "Van Dyke Walnut," "heritage pecan" or anything else the manufacturer wants to call a pure raw umber stain.

While true greens will work, it's harder to hit. I've used green colored pencils and I have a "green blocker" aerosol that's bright green. It works better for me to reach for the raw umber.

After many failed attempts of trying to get a raw umber from red, blue, yellow, black and white UTCs, I finally just bought a $7 bottle of raw umber UTC. This will last me many lifetimes. You can have some if you want to swing by,.

RE: Toning down the red

The color of stain called _fruitwood_ is in some cases a greenish light brown. I used fruitwood stain from Bartleys (sadly, now defunct) for my white oak cabinets to preserve the white-oak-ness of them and not have them go too golden.

RE: Toning down the red

Bob's My Uncle, I have a watercolor, tiny tube of raw umber. I have also just read the benefits and joys of the UTC. I'll investigate. :) If you're in the DC/MD/VA area, I'll road trip. I'll bring my own jar.

Hey. Since all I have is HD and Lowe's, if they don't have something that makes sense, an art supply store's tube of Raw Umber oil paint work, wouldn't it?

Casey, I will also look for the fruitwood, perhaps by someone else. Two of the doors I've been stripping (God Bless Citristrip -- can I get a Hell Yeah!) have turned out to be oak. How do you tell if it's red or white, as a matter of fact? It's all pretty light once the stain is sucked out . Give it a light sand and it's really, beautifully light.

I appreciate the info guys. I am excited about my "finds" turning out so well.

RE: Toning down the red

One manufacturer's fruitwood may not resemble another's at all.

Sorry, I'm about 8 hours west of DC.

This post was edited by bobsmyuncle on Wed, Sep 11, 13 at 22:38

RE: Toning down the red

I thought give you a quick update on these cherry cabinets.
First, after the initial stripping to get rid of the clear coat, I used another coat of Citristrip overnight to suck more of the stain out of the wood. Progress.

Second, I just plain bleached them. Clorox. Coated them with bleach and let them dry. Repeat. 16 times.

The wood is now a delightful grayish red, without being pink, believe it or not . When I buff the wood (320 grit) it comes out to be the most gorgeous, rich shade. I'm absolutely thrilled.

On an extra broken door, I decided to play with color. Treating this door the same way (apples to apples) I finally took some paint thinner and put a tiny, fork-tine dip of raw umber in it. I couldn't really even see the color. However, when I put it on the cherry, it toned it to a beautiful, more brownish color. I'm going to experiment with a drop of Jacobean stain in paint thinner. It's all stripe-y right now from my experiments, but I'm finally visualizing what I can get.

I have 4 apothecary or spice drawer cabinets. I'm creating a credenza-like arrangement and will be staining these to look good with my cherry. It's different to get it dark with wood that wants to be whitish yellow. I'll keep you posted. :)

My dilemma is now that I love my antiqued oak AND my cherry! Good thing my taste is labeled "eclectic."

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