Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks/refinishing cabinets


QUESTION: I'm trying to match waxed amber shellac patina on the knotty pine tongue & groove wood panel walls.  The wood is 60 yrs old.  The cabinets have been sanded 80,150,220,320.  Waxed amber shellac grabs very orange and does not cover the uneven blotchy areas in the old sanded pine wood.
I tried dewaxed dark gold German shellac and mixed a 2 lb cut. . It is beautiful finish, more translucent than I expected, so it did not cover the blotching or the light and dark panels of pine wood panels.  The end result showed slightly blotched areas and the light and dark panels more like hickory wood.
So I sanded all that off.  Now trying to find oil based stain to even the pine out and get rid of the dark and light woods and the blotchy areas in the wood.  In this area, the only brand I could find is Minwax and their oil gel stains did not have any colors near to what I want.  Limited selection in the oil-based gel. So I tried a sample of the same wood, using ZAR oil based stain in Fruitwood color. I applied denatured alcohol liberally before using the pad to apply the stain.  Its pretty good but still more orange than I ideal. It did cover the blonde wood area about 50% in one coat. Actually the Amber color 126 of the same brand resulted in very similar color - like amber shellac.
I'm on the verge of giving up and just painting the l-shape kitchen cabinets enamel paint.  The walls of existing knotty pine surround the entire kitchen/nook area.  So the room would not be without knotty pine. Any advice?  Thank you -

ANSWER: Alice,

After reading your question several times; I can see how hard and with knowledge, you worked on your project.
I have worked on staining and finishing knotty pine tongue & groove cabinets.

My first question to you would be: did you apply a clear barrier coat of any product; after sanding and before applying any products with color?

As you found out for yourself, pine is very porous and does not accept color evenly; without applying a clear primer.

We use clear shellac on any pine wood we are going to stain and finish.
Pine fibers; no matter how many times we sand and no matter the grit we use, seems to take all color unevenly. It seems to absorb some of the primary colors to more of a degree than other colors.

If you have applied a barrier clear coat; before any other applications, I really don't have a solution for you.

I can feel your frustrations; but, I am sure you would rather not paint your cabinets with enamel.

Once you start with 80 grit; it is extremely difficult to bring the wood back to a finishing surface.
I would finish with a 220 grit; as 320 grit, has a tendency to close the wood fibers in some areas more than others to receive the stains etc. evenly.

I believe that without covering the cabinets with a enamel; you would have to chemically strip the wood and start over.
The liquid stripper is the best way to remove all stains etc.from the deeper wood fibers.

I don't know if I was any help; but, I wish you the best in your endeavors.

Joe Eldredge
Conscientious Wood Care

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Joe - Thank you for your expert advice.  The first time, I did not know enough to use a barrier seal.  It was the drawers only so I removed the shellac and and started over.  Then I applied Zinzer Seal Coat but it was not clear. It was about the same shade as the pale #3 dewaxed shellac that I had been using.   I learned some valuable tips from your advice about sanding and stripping.   Some of the pine board panels on each cabinet door turn very light and others are very dark after applying the shellac.  Would the seal coat prevent this?   Seems that the dewaxed shellac does not cover the light wood to the extent of the dark wood panels. I read that the variance in wood occurs because of the time when it was harvested; spring or fall. This is giving me more problems that the blotches which are quite faint.  The shellac finish is really beautiful.  I would like this happen. I live in a very remote, rural area and its hard to find skilled professionals.  
I really appreciate you helping me. thank you


I also have read that there can be a variance in wood; because of the different times it was harvested.
You will also get a variance in color because of the nature of wood.
I believe a seal coat would help control the depth of the shellac; by keeping the penetration  more even.  Thus; a better consistency in the wood being stained.
I have used some barrier coats twice; with drying time between applications on some of the more porous woods.
Barrier coats don't always reach the same depth when applied; especially if the sanding isn't exactly the same consistency.
This is why large furniture manufactures use belt sanders as wide as four feet; to keep the sanding as even as possible.

We have used shellac finishes in the Colorado State Capital and it gives the depth and patina they were looking to accomplish on certain items.

I admire your persistence and determination on your project.

Again, the best in your endeavor.

Joe Eldredge
Conscientious Wood Care

Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Joseph A. Eldredge


We have been in the wood care business for almost 30 years (we are still learning) We do refurbishing and touch-up of furniture, paneling, antiques etc. The number one question that we receive; is what do I use on my furniture, to keep it looking moisturized, clean and get the depth perception back into the finish. I believe we can help on products to use and answer questions on why we don't use certain products that are available to us. I am sure that there are many questions on wood care that we can't answer; but, give us a try anyway. We find that many people use products for maintaining the wooden furniture, etc., and can't understand the reason it looks worse as they continue to use certain products. Most people use the products that their mothers and grandmothers used. Finishes on furniture have come a long way; from shellacs, waxes, varnishes etc. Give us an email and see if we can help with some of your questions and concerns.


Have worked in Omni, Brown Palace etc. hotels. Have refurbish items in the Colorado Govenors mansion and the Colorado Capital building etc. We have been caring for millions of dollars worth of furniture and antiques for large corporations for years.

Have received certificates from numerous companies who teach wood care clases through-out the country.

©2016 All rights reserved.