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Ask the Staff


I am making a dresser out of maple and need to stain or dye it to match a bed out of alder and stained a reddish brown color. What is the best method to match the color? Stain seems to just muddy the maple.

Thank you,



The best way to match color is to have a good sized quiver of coloring products in your shop to use for color matching. Dyes have advantages and disadvantages for coloring wood (just like pigmented stains). You can seek out the help of a professional re-finisher to match the color for your project or go forth yourself, but be prepared to do a good deal of sampling on scrap to figure things out. Know your methods and know your results, before you refinish your mother-in-law's piano bench, is our mantra.

You may want to start with a DVD or book on finishing so you can understand the properties of coloring and know where to begin with products.

Consider these:

Dyes do have nice clarity compared to pigmented stains. These dye concentrates can be altered to adjust the tone lightness or darkness of the color and intermixed for custom blending:

TransTint Dye Concentrate

Read about their use here:

TransTint Dye Technical Sheet

In general, you want to start with a tone that comes as close as possible, without being too dark. Adding color to go darker is always easier than lightening a color you've applied that is too dark.


Ed Scent
Highland Woodworking


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