Three Step Stain Finish/How to give hardwood a Walnut look

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Three Step Stain Finish/How to give hardwood a Walnut look

Postby Candyman » Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:08 pm

This is a finish I came up with a few years ago while trying to get light color Birch stock to look more like Walnut.
The problem with staining Birch is that it does not care for Oil base stains. You need to use a Water or Alcohol base stains. This post will show you how to combine the two stains into one good looking finish.

As always we need a victim and for this post we will be using a very ugly Savage 110 stock.
The stock is made of light color Birch and looks like it will have some nice grain in it.

First you will need a few things to work with.
Rubber gloves
Scrub brush
0000 steel wool
Fine sandpaper, 150 or 200 grit will work
A sanding block
Some old clean rags.
And here is what you will need to make the stock look good.
Wood striper
Rit liquid dark brown #25 dye.
Brown leather dye.
And some good Tom's 1/3 Mix. :wink:

The key factor to this finish is that you start with a clean stock. If the stock is oily, the water base dye will not stain the stock.
First strip the stock and steem it if needed. Then do a light sanding.

Once you have the stock all cleaned up you are ready for the first step of the finish.
Apply a coat of the Rit dye to the stock. This can be done with a foam brush, rag or paper towel. Do not cut the dye with water or alcohol, just put it on stright from the bottle.
Allow the dye to dry for about an hour. The stock will look like an old chocolate bar.
Then lightly buff the stock with the 0000 steel wool to remove any raised grain. If you buff too much the stock will become too light and you will need to apply another coat of stain and buff again.
This is what it should look like after you have buffed it.

Now for the 2nd step of the finish.
Apply a hand rubbed coat of BLO. Let it sit for 30 min. then wipe it dry.
As you can see the stock is taking on a nice brown color but it is missing that hint of red.

Now for the next step. The Alcohol base stain. Here is something you need to know. All brown colors have red in them. Birch tends to take on more of the red color when using a brown alcohol base stain. If you go with a dark brown leather dye, you will not get as much red due to the black in the dark brown.
Now apply the brown leather dye. You can use a foam brush or the daber that is attached to the inside of the lid. If you use a rag or paper towel, they will soak up and hold most of the pigment in the dye and your stain will not work as good.
Apply a good coat to the stock and let it sit for an hour or more. The longer you let it sit the darker your color will be. You can wait from one hour to 24 hours. Then you apply another coat of BLO. Allow it to sit for 30 min. then wipe it dry. Be sure that you are wearing the rubber gloves. Some of the stain will come off and your hands will look funny.
What I have found that works best is to apply the BLO within a hour or two. If the stock is not dark enough for you then just apply another coat of stain.
Here it is after the alcohol base dye and then BLO after one hour.

Now for the hard part. You need to allow the stock to dry for 48 hours. :shock: You need to allow the time for the BLO to cure and lock in the stain.
Once you have allowed the stock to dry apply the Tom's 1/3 Mix. My 5 year old son, Isaac, loves to rub in the Tom's Mix. :lol: If you have never applied Tom's Mix, just read the can.
Well here it is after the Tom's 1/3 Mis was applied.

And here is the rifle back at the shop I did the work for.

The natural color of the wood will have a lot to do with your final color on any type of finish that you apply.
Here are a few other stocks with the same finish on them.

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