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Woodworking/Wrong stain color on $6K of wood trim & doors


Help!  We gave our painter / stainer a sample of our maple stain choice for our cabinets and asked him to match it for our wood trim.  The stain choice is a deep chocolate brown.  However, he delivered the wood stained but not varnished or laquered.  The wood is a reddish brown, and is not at all close to the chocolate color we chose.  The stainer claims that he can tone or shade the wood with the lacquer to bring it to the chocolate color.  In fact, he wants a cabinet door so that he can match it.  In your opnion, will this work?  Is it going to hide the wood grain of the maple?  Will this wear off over time?  What is your experience with toning or staining?  He did not bring us the sample he promised before he went this far.  This is all intricate wood so sanding is not an option.  In your opinion, do we fire this painter and get someone else and buy all new woodwork?

Hi David, on any similar job, samples are a must before committing on either side...he needs to demonstrate he knows what he's doing and can do a quality job, and you need to see the final look BEFORE you commit.Tell me about the cabinets...are they a factory made cabinet? get a chocolate brown on Maple, it would typically require way more than just stain to accomplish, and toning would most likely be employed. The toning is done with dye based colors, and these will not tend to obscure grain the way a pigment based colorant will.But this type of finish is not easy to achieve without a serious set of skills and knowledge.(and some serious spray equipment) The typical factory cabinet finish can have upwards of 10 individual steps to complete, sealers, stains, toners, and clear coats...and are achieved very carefully, using compatible products designed to wok together to result in an exceptionally deep, durable finish. I know of VERY few painters that have these skills or this knowledge (actually, I cannot think of one).The species of wood can also make a difference, meaning that the stain you supplied may look quite different on the material he has than it does on the cabinets, this all has to be compensated for when developing a finish schedule to match the cabinets back- 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,usage,etc.


Fine furniture restorer and cabinet maker for over 30 years,serving high end Antique dealers, Interior designers, Collectors in the CT area. 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, and offered instruction on use and care as well.I even have some Trade show Demo experience.

none at this time.

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"),Multiple times in Family Handyman Magazine, local newspapers as well.

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 by Major tool manufacturers, Delta, Powermatic, Performax, Porter Cable, Skil/Bosch to name a few.

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.)
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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