September 26, 2022

Woody Woodworking

and its tools

Refinishing Furniture with Custom Stain Color

3 min read

In the spirit of Woodworking Month, the kind folks at Minwax reached out to me to produce a video on custom color matching using their Performance Series Tintable Stain, available exclusively at Sherwin-Williams. I was fortunate enough to have a client that requested I remove the damaged polyurethane, apply a stain that matched a set of dining chairs, and apply an oil based polyurethane.

The first thing I needed to do was remove all the polyurethane. To do so, I used a paint scraper which is much faster than sanding but must be done with caution or else you run the risk of going too deep and gouging the wood. For a little more control around the mitered border, I took light passes with a card scraper.

Next, I used a non-methylene chloride chemical stripper. I applied a liberal amount of the stripper with a chip brush and waited 15 minutes before scrapping it off. Using a chemical stripper is great for those hard-to-reach places, such as the underside of the mitered border, table apron, and table legs.

Once I removed all of the chemical stripper, I sanded the table to 120 grit with a random orbit sander. To remove the discoloration of the wood and return the wood to its natural color, I used 6 tablespoons of wood bleach with a quart of hot water. I applied the wood bleach mixture with a chip brush and waited for the solution to crystalize. The active ingredient in wood bleach is oxalic acid. To remove the wood bleach crystals, I washed the piece with a mixture of baking soda and water.

My client wanted the table to be stain matched to set of chairs that they owned. These chairs are significantly darker than the original color of the table and are closer to a dark walnut. I went to my local Sherwin Williams and the Associate Manager was able to provide me with everything I needed to match the color of the chairs.

To ensure an even absorption of the stain, I used Minwax pre-stain conditioner. The conditioner works by penetrating and temporarily sealing the wood to even out the rate of absorption, which in turn creates a uniform stain coat. After 15 minutes, I make sure to wipe off any excess pre-stain conditioner.

I then do a final sanding to 180 grit to prepare for staining and top coating. I liberally apply the Minwax Performance Series matched stain with a stain pad. Again, this stain was tinted at my local Sherwin Williams to match the color of an already existing piece of furniture. The longer you allow the stain to sit on the wood, the deeper the color. In my case, I waited about 15 minutes before wiping off the stain with lint free paper towels.

Minwax recommends a minimum of 2 hours before applying a topcoat. However, I waited overnight before applying the first coat of Minwax Performance Series Fast Dry Varnish. A Purdy natural bristle brush is the ideal brush to apply the fast dry varnish. After 4 hours of dry time, I do light scuff sanding to remove any dust nibs or raised grain. I then vacuum the work surfaces with a bristled attachment.

I then apply the final coat of varnish. The final coat was dry to the touch after 4-6 hours, but 12-16 hours of dry time is recommended for heavy use. I allowed the piece to dry in my shop for 48 hours before delivering it to my client.

Woodworking News Source: AlabamaWoodworker

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