Staining Doors: The Plan

So to summarize my last post, the big challenge with my doors is blending together old doors with varnish residue on them, new cuts into the old wood, gouges, variations in color, and one of them with poplar doweled onto the bottom. To accomplish this, I want a stain that mostly stays on top of the wood. A penetrating stain might leave light blotches in spots where the old varnish prevented it from taking. And plus, this way I can build it up if I don’t like it. Woodworkers would call this type of stain a toner.

To do it, I went to the Woodcraft store all the way out in Downingtown. Yes it’s far, but I work out that way so it wasn’t too bad. And I bought TransTint brown mahogany dye to mix into General Finishes high performance water based top coat. I used the off cut from one of my doors, an extra piece of poplar molding, and another strip of pine. And I set out to measure out the dye and realized I didn’t have anything that would do small volumes like that. So I went into the kitchen to swipe my mom’s mini measure. (I would have replaced it quickly). And to my horror, the lettering had worn off!

At this point, I imagined that the test/planning work for this project would last a month instead of a day and I got mad. I was mad at my mom for putting it in the dishwasher. But I knew this wasn’t fair, so I refocused on being mad at the manufacturer for not making it dishwasher safe. I was on the internet looking up unit conversions and got mad at congress for voting down Thomas Jefferson’s bill to put us on the metric system. And then I found them at Bed Bath and Beyond for $3.50 and was mad to pay 2 dollars more than I thought they’d cost. But I was back in business. Here are the tools of the trade.


So in the back we have random bits of wood. In front of that we have the top coat product, a plastic can for measuring out the finish, the dye stain, a mini measure for measuring the dye. And because I plan on wiping this on, I have a gross old stretched out pair of my dad’s underpants and a piece of foam padding.

And the result?


That’s the old finish of my door on front and a new cut on top. I put the dyed varnish onto both. There’s almost no discernable difference. Then I have more pine and the poplar. (I’m painting my trim, but one door has poplar from the same lumber yard fused onto it.)


HOW IS THIS REAL LIFE? This is staining and finishing in one step. And it looks good!

So the plan is I’ll do a little sanding to round off the edges of the doors that were cut and smooth out any rough spots where the doors are gouged. I won’t try to make anything look new. Then I’ll wipe on one thin coat of this dyed poly. Then I’ll wipe on additional coats to any areas that I don’t like. And then I’ll use poly that’s not dyed to make sure everything has at least 3 coats on it.


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