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From time to time,people ask me to build something to match their existing whatever.I do that part well,but then I'm asked to match their existing stain color !! Oh, boy. I've asked other guys and get a lot of this.......I think this....try this.....maybe that..etc. I've tried to match stans using my suppliers color chart,but that has mixed results.I've even had suppliers "stain match" a custom blended stain,to little satisfaction. Any advice would greatly appreciated

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I have used Sherwin Williams often in the past. Bring them a piece to match to and a blank piece of actual wood to use for matching. They have done wonders.
Phillip is right, setting expectations is important. You are trying for a close match, not a match.
Also:
- Plan the work so your “matched” piece is not on the same plane as the old piece.
- Using the same type of wood is key to a close match.
I have used Frazee to make the match as Dale used Sherwin Williams (bring in a piece of the old and new wood). I have had fairly good success.
Here are 2 examples of that:

1) Matching shoe molding to existing molding (after removing carpet).

2) I just got this stain mixed up for the little red oak side table, a “close match” to the existing white oak furniture.
Thanks,Dale. I'll give this a try.

Dale Stagg said:
I have used Sherwin Williams often in the past. Bring them a piece to match to and a blank piece of actual wood to use for matching. They have done wonders.
You made me able to understand clearly,what I'me up against,and all the manny variables involved.I can't thank you enough. I'll advise customers your way Thank you soooo much taking time to help me!!! Dave

Phillip said:
I spent 20+ years as a printer, I lived with color matching every day. The more variables you add to the match the less pleasing the result. Stain is affected by the base it is applied to. The color of the wood will affect the color of the finished product. Light penetrates the stain and bounces back. The wave length of the bounce back is dependent upon the base stock. On paper there are two sides to the sheet, each side will return a different color. Add to that the type of light and the colors on the walls. You may think I am nuts but there are others in the graphic industry on this list and I sure they will say these things are true.

Wood is less stable than paper. It is not manufactured, it is natural, full of defects and variations when it arrives at your shop. Stain conditioner, pre-treats, stain types are all attempts to reduce the variables. Age of the wood, age of the cut, type of grain, type of cut, center of the tree, outer of the tree, on and on. Is short I do not believe you can ever truly match exactly the stain color that existed. Can you make a pleasing color? I think so, but not exact. Will it be good? I think so but not exact. If you tell your customer what to expect, and lower their expectations some, when they see good, pleasing, or great they are surprised. The challenge is what your customer has built up in their own minds eye of what the job will look like. You have to bring their wishes into the realm of realistic.

After you have done the above, and educated the client you can follow all the good advice and your customer will think you are a genius and wood magician.
I hope that helps some.
Phil
Your stain match is perfect.Matching 80 year old wood is a super accomplishment. I NEVER had that challenge. Thank you very much for your time and good advice. Dave

Jenny said:
Phillip is right, setting expectations is important. You are trying for a close match, not a match.
Also:
- Plan the work so your “matched” piece is not on the same plane as the old piece.
- Using the same type of wood is key to a close match.
I have used Frazee to make the match as Dale used Sherwin Williams (bring in a piece of the old and new wood). I have had fairly good success.
Here are 2 examples of that:

1) Matching shoe molding to existing molding (after removing carpet).

2) I just got this stain mixed up for the little red oak side table, a “close match” to the existing white oak furniture.
I just found this chart on the Zar site that shows the same stain side-by-side on Oak and Pine. It is meant as a color chart, but it is also a good example of how woods of different species do not make good matches.
I do a lot of work,using red oak. I,ve experienced different shades of color,using the same stain,at the same time,on the same project. The project was sanded to 220 grit.Some customers comment on that,and I explain that's because i'ts real wood,and mother nature never created any two trees exactly alike. I believe Phillip statd it correctly,when he said,you're not dealing with a manufactured product. There are many variables involved. I also did an experiment using one piece of scrap red oak. I taped off 4 inch segments on the piece.I sanded each section to a different grit.I started with 60,and continued up through and including 400.The stain color was a different shade,on each section,using the same stain.I believe this was due to the difference in the oppenings of the grain pores,after sanding.Thus,enters another variable. What do ya think? Dave
You're right again,about where it's grown and differences in hardness,color,etc.I use sanding sealer by sherwin williams,with good results & it won't clog 400 paper.

Phillip said:
I have not used Oak that much. I have heard -- do not know about the accuracy -- that oak grown in different parts of the country can have differing hardness and ring patterns due to winters and summers. Sounds possible. I know that lumber coming from different parts of the tree will finish up a little different and the grain pattern is a little different. Next time you get a difference look at the grain and see if there is a match. One of the magazines just did an article on white oak and red oak. I will see if I can find it. Maybe they have some information.

Do you uses a stain pre conditioner? There are some products available, and Minwax calls it pre stain conditioner, and Cabot calls it sanding sealer. I recommended talking to a small place like Miller Paint or as Jenny pointed out Frazee ( they do not exist where I am) but tell them the problems you are having and let them help you get to the best match you can. It will not be exact, but shoot for great, do the best you can.

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