Tuesday, July 26, 2016

General Finishes - Black

Three Coats of Stain on Red Oak, Six Coats of Varnish
I received a commission for a square dice tray, with the request: "can you stain it black or ebony?" Well, yes indeed sir; I can.

General Finishes makes a family of stains, gel stains, that are thick and seemed to me to be ideal for the task of "turn this non-black wood into black wood." I used General Finishes Black Gel Stain. A quick overview of it is after the jump.

Before shot
During shot. Those are things right?
After (One coat) shot.
The material that I stained was red oak, which is a very open grained wood. I didn't use any kind of a sanding sealer or attempt to fill in the natural porousness of the material. The General Finishes gel stains are thick gels (surprise!). Applying a decent amount to the material and wiping it off in the direction of the grain, as instructed, works fairly well to fill in the pores of the material, but you need to pay attention and touch up where the gel just didn't get into the pores.

This being "black" the objective is to take what is essentially a light reddish brown material and darken it to black. I found that in this test, one coat was not sufficient to do so. Looking at the "After (One coat) shot" picture above, you can still see some of the lightish color bleeding through. Maybe that means that I didn't apply thick enough, or I was overly zealous in wiping it off, but I'm not sure. All I knew is that this required a second coat. So I put one down.

Second Coat on

The second coat made the blackness much more uniform, but it still left a little streaking of light wood color showing through.

Third (Coat's) the Charm
A final coat did the trick. I ended up with a uniform black color. As has been my experience with General Finishes Gel Stains, I used more of the material that I expected. Their more fluid, oil or water based, stains seem to go much further.

After staining the tray, I used a wiping varnish,Formbys 30064 Low Gloss Tung Oil Finish, 16-Ounce, which gave me a good semi-gloss finish and didn't affect the stain at all.

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