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QUESTION: Hi Greg,

I put on a couple coats of GF Gel Stain in Java as we had settled on, but I'm not really achieving the color result I want and that's the darkest color they have.  Can I go over it with an oil-based stain from ZAR?

Prefer to not have to strip this piece a second time.  :)

Thanks,
Michael

ANSWER: Hey Mike, in order to get darker, and especially without getting the finish "muddy" (obscuring the grain), you'll need to use a Dye stain...to achieve those really dark finishes like, "espresso"...."coffee", etc on a hard wood like Oak, we use a combination of layers, usually a dye stain,(sometime multiple coats) followed by another stain, (perhaps a pigmented stain like the Gel or an oil based product), then often a colored toner coat, (also dye based for clarity), followed by the appropriate top coat schedule....the General waterborne dyes are excellent at coloring hard woods in dark colors...but they require a little learning curve, and they are unforgiving....if you go too dark, or too red for instance, it's very difficult to undo the mistake.....they can leave lap marks during application as well, until you have the "knack" of application down....unfortunately...to go darker with a dye...you have to start with bare wood...once sealed with a gel stain, not much will go darker except more Gel stain, or an oil based stain, but now you risk adhesion problems of your top coat(s)...and it will get "muddy".Also, don't forget that with a plywood, you're coloring a very thin veneer of wood, and so the amount of absorption will be severely limited, and will affect your options about going dark...post back- Greg

http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/2020491/29430/General-Finishes-Water-Based-Dye-

Also, never thin these with water, only use the appropriate thinner, waterborne does not mean it has water in it...necessarily...and adding water can raise grain.Also, colors can be easily and effectively intermixed..

http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/2020491/22657/General-Finishes-Water-Based-Dye-

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

QUESTION: What about these ideas:

1. Can I tint the GF Java Gel Stain with MIXOL Universal Tint, and then put a coat of the tinted Gel Stain on over the last coat I put on?

2. Can I strip off the Gel Stain (luckily I only put stain on one section), and then put GF Water-based Dye followed by Gel Stain?

3. Can I cover it in Formica?  

Ok, just kidding about #3.

Thanks,
Mike

Answer
Yeah, I think the Mixols are pigment based tints though, so "muddiness" again is a concern, I use TransTints, which are Dye based, and therefore stay translucent.You have to temper them with a little acetone before combining with oil bases..tinting the stain is an option, a better option is choice #2, and will yield you a purer color, perhaps with less product and less muddiness......

http://www.woodcraft.com/category/3/1005233/1001042/Finishes.aspx?brand=TransTin

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Greg Scholl

Expertise

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.

Experience

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.

Organizations
none at this time.

Publications
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.

Education/Credentials
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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