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  1. #1
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    Default matching walnut colour with French polish

    Hello all,
    I have an old piano stool that was originally walnut (or at least dark brown stained) and I think french polished it also has a woven cane seat. I would like to match the walnut colour to return the piece to its original look. It has been painted and a lot of the paint has come off but so too has the walnut stain.
    Does anyone have any clues on how to match the walnut stain so I can re-polish? I am an amateur polisher so know ROUGHLY what I am doing - thanks to the "A Polishers Handbook". A formula to create the approximate colour would be a real help if you can provide.
    Thanks Gordon

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by gda27 View Post
    Does anyone have any clues on how to match the walnut stain so I can re-polish?
    Not without a picture Gordon

  3. #3
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    Thanks - Although a little askew . Gordon
    IMG_2237.jpgIMG_2236.jpg

  4. #4
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    Hi Gordon. Your stool has bentwood parts . Most of that stuff is made from steam bent Beech . A pretty common plain close grained timber that suited steam bending . Its a pale wood . So if you had a stain that did it in one go that would be good . A Wattyl Walnut I use has the warm dark colours of that . Just a stain out of a can may not get you all the way there though . You may need a couple ?

    The accurate way is how I do it below.
    Colouring after the initial stain is how its done . The initial stain is first sealed in with a suitable sealer. Some spirit bases sealers pull out the stain , wash it away, so a thinned oil based sealer is good . Then a colour mix of shellac and what ever you need is applied . For this you need a range of colours . A bit of Brown oxide with some Bismark brown would get you close with that one . You coat it on and wipe some off till your happy and when its right seal that in .

    If you have the range of colours . Oxide brown black, white ,yellow, Red , Burnt sienna. Then the same in spirit colours . Bismark Brown , Spirit Black , Malochite Green , Auramine Yellow , Magenta . Then you can make anything you need to make any colour in any of the modes it can be used .
    My spelling on some of those may be out I think . If you going to do more of this then those colours last and go a long way . And its the super cheap way to go . Once you have the range any colour can be made for very little .
    If you are just going to go and pay for mixed tins of stuff off the shelf then , 1 . Its very limiting and 2. very pricey .
    To complete your range of Oxide and spirit colours , water based colours are needed . Some are sold here on this forum in the Ubeaut section . A Good one for Walnut is Vandyke Brown . I don't think its sold here . Ive seen it on ebay though . I can tell you where to buy a lot of the spirit colours in small packets if you want to go that way as well .

    Rob

  5. #5
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    If trying to match a stain -Find matching material and have many goes at it. aim for slightly lighter with the actual object as DARKER is very hard if you cant sand it off - sometimes might need a subtle tone of -purely for instance say red -best on the practice pieces. AND the other thing is to put whatever appropriate finish on it and then get sample and copy into REAL sunlight. Particularly not flouro.

  6. #6
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    Rob - thanks very much for the detailed response. Alas I am not terribly good with spirit v oxide v water colours. I have got a set of the U-beaut water based colours and also have some of the Feast and Watson Prooftint in walnut. I found when using the prooftint then shellac over the top, it pulled away the colour on to my polishing rubber which then meant that the finished look was streaky or not the colour it started. I looked on e-bay for the vandyke brown but don't know which you refer to. As I said I am a beginner in the colour matching game. I am very happy to buy the components and mix as required. I am guessing that the spirit colours you suggest are powders which are mixed with meths (?). I did look for a french polishing course at NSW Tafe but I couldn't enrol in just such a course.... although it was offered as part of a larger course. Thanks again Gordon

  7. #7
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    Thanks, I need a lot of practice. Gordon

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    Hi Gordon . Yep I realize your a beginner . There is only three ways to go with this I suppose . Your either buying expensive tins of pre mixed stuff or you buy raw ingredients or you take it to a guy with the gear and pay him to do it .
    What someone should do is make up a set of colours . Half a matchbox worth of each and sell it as a set.

    With the proof tints you could try mixing a little shellac in with the stain before applying , that may give it some holding power for whats coming next . Or it may ruin the tint and not mix ?
    Large amounts of that sort of staining and I seal it in with an oil based sanding sealer . Once that's set I go back to shellac .
    Graeme Brown Antiques in Toorak Melbourne sell packets of the spirit colours and some oxide colours as well as Vandyke crystals 250 and 500 g I'm pretty sure. Its a restorers favorite. Vandyke is a water based strong Brown colour and like all water based colours ,you have to treat the wood first to a wetting with water to raise grain then give a fine sanding to take the raised grain away . Then apply water stain . I also found Vandyke on Ebay

    Van Dyke Crystals - for Water Based Wood Stain - 120mls - C3740 | eBay

    What you cant find in smaller packets with oxide colours, Bunnings sell in their concrete section in large containers .

    You don't need the lot all at once . Just use this info as you see fit of course.

    If its just this job then a small tin or two off the shelf of the right stuff will get you by .

    Rob

  9. #9
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    Rob, thanks got the Graeme Brown link. I’ve had trouble finding a single source of a range of oxides you listed in an earlier post.
    Do you use a colour called cordovan or know where to buy it? It seems to come up alot in restoration books I’ve been reading, Also on a lot of colour wheels.
    Cheers

  10. #10
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    I don’t know of a single source either . Never heard of Cordovan until now . It seems it’s a leather type or colour just reading what came up with a search . I’ve had to go for that colour or close when matching repairs to stuff before . Some brown oxide with some Bismarck and a touch of magenta would be close . Do you want to get something that colour ?

  11. #11
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    Thanks Rob.
    I was just thinking if getting a range of oxides and/ or spirit colours to allow me to mix and match most colours.
    As I said, the colour Cordovan comes up in some restoration books and most colour wheels. Itís apparently named after a region in Spain where shoes of that colour are also made (common name is bullís blood apparently).

    Heres a picture of a common colour wheel showing that colour.

    94A8004C-CEE9-4D81-9D04-9C5C7A6845CA.jpeg
    .

    On the RGB scale itís Decimal value is 137, 63, 69 and its percentage ( I know it doesnít add up) is 57.7% red, 24.7% green, 27.1% blue

    This is supposed to be the colourFABFF5FC-FE06-483F-B548-4757DBDBB71C.jpeg


    It is is available in the USA in spirit form but I guess Iíll use your mix and give it ago myself

  12. #12
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    Interesting . The colour wheel is something I only have a basic understanding of , I use one I find it useful in knowing the opposite of what I need to cancel out things going to far the wrong way . And in the normal mixing up of things as well if its needed. A better understanding what what I already know would be great . I didn't realize they divided colours up into percentages! and mixing from that . Not sure if that's really useful to me or not ,but its interesting avenue possibility .

    The Reason of its (questionable to Me ) usefulness that way with wood colouring is wood colouring and painting a wall or canvass are two different things. The colours for wall or canvas are mixed from what I know in the primary solid opaque and all mixes are opaque to make solid colours . All colour possibilities are there to be had that way .

    With wood colouring You have a limited number of colours in the oxides which make opaque mixes
    And you have a limited number of spirit colours which make translucent mixes that can be mixed with the oxides.
    Then you have a limited range of water stains .
    The oxides can be mixed with spirits or water based .
    The spirit colours all mix with spirit and some mix well with water .

    Then the Great Grand Daddy of colouring wood, which should be the first consideration as an option when you have the experience under your belt is the ( stand to attention and bow your head when even mentioning it so its importance is understood Rob ) Reaction Stains . The little known and written of chemical reactions that change some woods to some colours . There is the common known ones , Vinegar and steel for grey to black iron oxide staining is one . But there are a good amount more. And using these with the colour mixes above on top means you know as much as any one ever has, and you understand what can and cant be done because your at the outer edges of possibilities . On from there is experimentation by mixing and testing anything you come across to see what in could give you .

    There's me going off on a tangent about colouring again .


    So back to Cordovan . I have a big range of books from artists material director's to how to stain and polish books from the 16th and 19th and 20th century . It would have to be in them , Ive never noticed . But I will be having a look . To me its a bit of a 1960s TV cabinet colour . The slightly Magenta / Purple hint does that I think . The other thing is that you can get a colour that applied gives you Cordovan if applied to a white background . Making Mahogany that colour and making walnut that colour are two different mixes . And any timber further away that that is the same , more different again. Add to that that the timber type colouring possibilities I mentioned above and you get to see its more about understanding or testing with them than what the colour wheel tells you .

    I'm just assuming your colouring wood or we wouldn't be talking about it here .

    With the G Brown link . I don't know if I should have to say this but I am related . Im not trying to push or make sales or be a PITA . There is not much of any benefit to me by putting it up and just pointing out a known direction is why I'm doing it . They were buying in bulk and breaking down into smaller packaging . But with some big changes to things that range has been decreasing .
    I dont know of anyone selling small amounts of such things . One because they are pretty thin on the ground . Two because Ive never had to look further than a short walk, when I was in town to stock up . A small bag of one of these colours lasts a long long time as well . Any old retiring restorer usually passes his lot onto someone he can find that will use it . Ive been lucky have two lots donated to me .

    Rob

  13. #13
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    These videos give an excellent explanation of the use of pigment and dye stains. He shows how to combine the two for different effects and also how to match an existing colour using toners.

    YouTube
    YouTube

    Does anyone know where to buy the aerosol toners in Oz?

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    Rob - thanks again for the information. I have read your post a number of times and will re-read a few more to fully understand before I need to get started on the colouring, I'm a slow learner! Gordon

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by jack620 View Post
    These videos give an excellent explanation of the use of pigment and dye stains. He shows how to combine the two for different effects and also how to match an existing colour using toners.

    YouTube
    YouTube

    Does anyone know where to buy the aerosol toners in Oz?
    I really enjoyed those videos.
    Here is a link of where to buy toner aerosols in OZ.

    Jet Spray Lacquer Toners (Nitro - pigment based) - Aerosols - Finishing

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