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  • Choosing Your Color Many clients ask, “Christophe, what is the right stain color? Should a piece be

    blond, ebony, or simply chestnut?” The answer is, there are no hard-and-fast rules

    about right or wrong; the right color is the one you like. Start by sampling. Try

    stains on wood scraps to see how they react, the color you get, how it applies and

    dries, and how the finish you plan to apply on top turns out. A few stains and a

    few woods can create a huge palette of hues with which to work. Here, we applied

    seven colors to an oak tabletop. See the variety?

    SPECIES CHARACTERISTICS BEST STAIN ADVICE

    beech Nicely figured wood Oil or water Avoid dark stains

    birch Does not take stain well; gets blotchy Oil Consider sealing lightly

    before staining

    cherry Does not take stain well; gets blotchy Light stains Consider sunlight, which darkens

    the wood naturally, or sealing lightly before staining

    chestnut Polishes well, so do not oversand Any Avoid staining too dark (already

    has a lovely deep brown hue)

    ebony Very hard wood No stain needed Sand to a very fine grit to get the best finished aspect

    mahogany Open grain; avoid water-based stain Oil or alcohol A light-brown stain will tame

    its orange-y cast

    maple Does not take stain well; gets blotchy when dark Light stains Consider sealing lightly

    before staining

    oak Very open pores and

    deep grain; versatile for special effects and aging

    Oil or alcohol Stain thoroughly or the pores will stay light

    poplar Stains unevenly; absorbs a lot Oil or alcohol Repeated stain coats

    can make it look like a different species

    pine Soft. Stains unevenly; absorbs a lot Oil or alcohol Repeated stain coats

    can make it look like a different species

    teak vOily wood Oil or alcohol Do not stain (only treat with teak oil or wax)

    128 THE FURNITURE BIBLE

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