(I just copied and pasted from Xanga with photos and all. Let’s see what happens.)
I like old-fashioned stain, the kind you brush on and wipe off, leaving whatever has soaked into the wood. There are tinted varnishes but they’re tricky and unforgiving. There are stains that have varnish included, but I don’t trust those either.
Somewhere I’ve misplaced all my painting stuff. So I’m applying the stain with an old sock. Note how I’m using nitril gloves. When I was younger (a year or two ago) I used to do this bare-handed. Now I’m an old fuddy-duddy who looks after his nails.
The desk has been chemically stripped and sanded as clean and bare as I can get it. It doesn’t get rid of all the old color (there’s some dark color in the grain and some of the dents) but enough that the new finish will look good.
They call this tiger oak or quarter-sawed oak because it’s cut on an angle to bring out those cool stripes. For the plywood, the veneer was also cut at the quarter angle and glued in strips.
The stain gets slopped on and spread around. It has to sit 5-15 minutes and then I wipe it off. Here you can see blemishes of the old stain, like age spots.
The end result looks quite different from the bare wood, and lighter and more even than the original finish.
In a couple of days when it’s good and dry, I’ll varnish it with oil-based polyurethane. My one experiment with water-based poly was a disaster.
Here’s what the desk bases look like. They’re darker because they seemed to have a darker original finish than the top, and it was really hard to strip them down to bare wood. It will still look good, I think.