Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks/refinishing oak table


40 yrs ago my father stripped, sanded, and varnished (no stain)an oak table that came from my husband's grandparents - over time it has turned very yellow - I had someone strip the old varnish and sand it - but the oak is still very yellow - I would love to have it end up more modern oak color - a medium brown shade with no yellow or red undertones - more of a medium brown that has hint of grey  to it - such as you can buy new from such stores as Restoration Hardware - is it possible for me to counter act this yellow that has penetrated the wood from 40 years of amber varnish - I would like to work with General Finishes water based product - do you have any advice for me - thank you

Hi Barbara, many Oaks can have a yellow tone, and red Oak can retain a pinkish hue which is even more difficult to could apply a two part wood bleach to rid it of the worst of the yellow cast, but you might be able to use the dye stains to mask it and change it to a hue that will satisfy you. The General waterborne dyes are excellent, but they are also unforgiving, and cannot be easily reversed should you get too dark, too red, great care and some experimentation will be called for. Like most stains, they can be intermixed, thinned to de-intensify the color strength (only with the correct reducer, NOT water), and layered to great effect on Oak....just heed the cautions. They can also be used in conjunction with a pigment based stain to build a denser finish. The finish types you describe are a closely guarded secret, and utilize multiple steps, paint washes, glazes, pigmented stains, dyes, even colored waxes to achieve, and this is advanced finishing, not typically the realm of the novice. Your result may require a base color from a dye or two, and then a pigmented wash, perhaps paint or gel stain, followed by some type of protective finish, perhaps a flat Acrylic urethane...but again, these are pretty advanced techniques, especially to know where you're going , and how to get's all learned techniques, but fairly advanced stuff. The best news is that you can always strip the table top again and start over!!... but the caution about the dyes remains, they have the capacity to really have staying power if over applied...even on a hard wood, and even against strippers. I hope this arms you with a little more pertinent info, and I'm here for you. My answers may be a bit delayed, as I'm battling cancer at the moment, my prognosis is good, but the road there is rough....please consider the tip jar on the way out, and thanks for participating. Regards-Greg

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Greg Scholl


Questions on Woodworking, wood finishing and refinishing of all kinds, repairing furniture and wooden objects, Architectural details, Woodturning, carving, tool usage, product usage, some chemistry as it applies to woodworking and related interests,cabinet making and furniture construction/design, etc. I have experience with all manners of colorants, finishes, paints, stains, dyes, glazes, and coatings, wood species recognition and usage,tool recommendations, blade types and recommendation,techniques and methods for many Woodworking related issues, etc.


Fine furniture restorer and cabinet maker for over 30 years,serving high end Antique dealers, Interior designers, Collectors in the CT area. Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.) Sold, built, serviced, setup Home, Industrial, and Commercial stationary woodworking tools for a major tool retailer in CT. for three years, sold hand and power tools , provided knowledge, parts replacement, service, and on site service, Trade show Demo, and training as well.

Published in Fine Woodworking Magazine (12/97), included on Fine Woodworkings first "Best of Fine Woodworking" CD-ROM (2002) ...("27 year compilation of expert know-how")

Art School at Silvermine Guild in Norwalk, CT., 9 year apprenticeship in a European run Cabinet and Restoration shop in CT., various classes on subjects having to do with the field. Seminars from major Tool manufacturers, Skil/Bosch, Delta, Powermatic, Ritter, Porter cable, Milwaukee, Dewalt/B&Decker, Performax.

Past/Present Clients
Many varied clients including work on Martha Stewarts' Westport, CT. show house, many fine Antique dealers and private collectors in and around Fairfield County and in Woodbury, CT. (the Antiques capital of CT.), Golden Age of Trucking Museum,Consulting for area Painting/Decorating and Building contractors on non painting issues..(staining, wood prep.,clear finishing, floor restoration and architectural detail restoration and repair, etc.), local Museums and Historical Societies. For the last two years I have been employed with Schwenke Auctioneers Inc.- Woodbury Auction LLC., as a staff photographer,IT tech,and doing restoration and repair work as well.

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