Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 193, October 2021 Welcome to Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools & Education Learn more about Highland Woodworking View our current woodworking classes and seminars Woodworking articles and solutions Subscribe to Wood News
Finishing: Getting Rid of the Red
By Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher

Sometimes when we stain our projects they will come out too red or the wood itself will take the stain much differently than what you were expecting and create havoc on your project. I was working on a large china closet which was ready for a couple of lacquer top coats. The client came to my shop on a Saturday to take a look at the piece and upon arriving she immediately said the piece was much redder than she wanted. I begrudgingly said I would get back to her the next week since I personally thought the piece looked virtually like it originally did, according to when the hardware was taken off. This is were you would find the original color, under the hardware, where the sun never shines.

What to do? Since starting over was something I definitely didn't want to do I called my old friend, who learned how to restore furniture while in jail, and asked him what he would do. It was late afternoon so he said he would come by and take a look. As soon as he laid eyes on it he looked at me and smiled and asked if I had any malachite green crystals. He mixed about a half a jar of alcohol and a small amount of crystals to make a very intense green. Using a rag he wiped a little on a part of the skirt that wouldn't be seen and instantly the red was virtually gone, leaving behind a very pleasing reddish brown. It made sense because red kills green and green kills red when it comes to dyes. Pigmented stains will not do this because stains are, for the most part, just thin paints.

Because I was using a lacquer finishing system, the dye would "bite" into the lacquer sealer, so no problems there. After I wiped the entire piece and applied a coat of lacquer, the piece came to life and looked just great. I couldn't wait for the client to see it and when she did she said it was "perfect."

When Mike was on his way out he turned to me and said with a smile "by the way, your hands are going to be green for quite a while"...I didn't care.

Click here to visit the Highland Woodworking Finishing Department

Alan can be reached directly via email c/o Alan Noel Furniture Refinishing at alannoel@comcast.net.

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