Staining birch plywood

Old 08-13-04, 08:42 PM
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Staining birch plywood

Hello all! I want to make a (bed) headboard out of birch plywood, and would like to stain it a dark, rich brown colour. My goal is to have a smooth, even finish without the grains being darker than the wood, or the grains popping up. So I have a few questions to ask..

1. Is birch the best wood to get these results?
2. Can I use a water-based stain for this? (the reason I don't want to use an oil based stain is because i live in a small apartment building with minimal open window space and don't want to be high for 3 days straight with fumes!)
3. Any recommendations on brands/colours for a very dark brown stain (I almost want it brown-black)?
4. Do I need to pre-treat birch (or any other recommended woods) before staining it?
5. And lastly... I don't want to finish it using a glossy poly... what are your recommendations for a more satin-y, matte, finish?

Thanks for your help in advance all! (Can you tell this is the first time I'm attempting to do some woodwork?!)
Old 08-14-04, 08:55 PM
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Birch takes stain well. Choose the wood for the most consistent grain to achieve the most consistent results. Get some scrap to use for experimenting with the stain or dye as the case may be.

Of course, the plan for a dark finish would be helped by using a dark wood to start. Take a look at walnut or mahogany plywood. The difference is cost is not so great. You would be working with a wood that will naturally be dark. Mahogany comes in variations of color, so look for uniformity in the pieces you select. If you choose the perfect piece, a clear finish may be all you need to achieve the right shade. Walnut may have some grain of note to it, but mahogany can be quite uniform in the grain direction and pattern.

I have had little success with pre-treatments.

The actual results of the stain on the wood will be determined by testing scraps. The clear finish will make it look darker.

Polyurethane comes in matte and semi-gloss finishes. If you plan on several coats, use gloss for all but the last coat to keep the finish from looking dull from the accumulation of the flattening agent in successive coats.

Hope this helps.

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