Wood Varnish Stains

Wood Varnish Stains

Formulas and tips for varnish stains for wood floors and furniture.

Craftsman Style

¶ Varnish stains are not often used by painters and yet there are occasional quick, cheap or temporary jobs where time or money limits make it handy to use a varnish or shellac stain. The large volume of factory made varnish stains sold each year is used largely by women and others on furniture and on floors about old houses.

¶ The varnish stains are simply varnish to which coloring matter has been added in sufficient quantity to produce a decided color but not enough to make the varnish completely obscure the surface. Transparent colors are used.

¶ These stains fill, color and add a gloss to the surface all in one coat. They serve some purposes well enough but really high class finishing is not done with this class of stains by skilled craftsmen. Such stains do not penetrate the surface to any extent, they dry rather quickly, over night or in an hour or so in the case of the shellac stains. They are fast to strong light exposure or not depending upon whether the permanent earth pigments are used or the permanent anilines or the fugitive anilines.

¶ In furniture factories where furniture is made from the cheaper grades of lumber varnish stains are used because the woods streaked with very soft and porous parts are given an even, uniform coloring with varnish stain, whereas that is quite impossible with other stains without much expensive preliminary work. Varnish stain prevents the very soft parts from absorbing the color excessively and so becoming very dark and making a spotty, mottled effect of color.

¶ If varnish stains are made too dark in color they completely hide the wood grain figure and give the appearance of an enameled surface.

Varnish Pigment Stains

¶ The materials which may be used for mixing varnish pigment stains are,first class cabinet, coach, spar or floor varnishes to which good quality colors ground in japan and thinned a little with turpentine are added. Tinting colors ground in oil and commonly used for tinting house paints may be used, but the japan ground colors are much better. Only high grade colors ought to be used, because the cheaper colors are not transparent enough; they are apt to give the stain a muddy, cloudy appearance. Only the colors which are naturally fairly transparent should be used, such colors as the umbers, siennas, Venetian red, chrome green, Prussian blue, ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, Dutch pink, verdigris green, rose pink, maro.on lake, orange chrome, drop black, etc. Yellow ochre, chrome yellow and lamp black are not suitable because they are opaque.

¶ To mix varnish stains break the color pigment up first with a little turpentine and thoroughly mix it. Strain the color through double cheese cloth before adding it to the varnish. Next thoroughly stir it into the varnish which should be not colder than 70 degrees, a little warmer is better.

Varnish Pigment Stain Formulas

Mahogany Red

7 pints varnish,
¼ to 1 pound Italian burnt sienna,
1 to 3 ounces rose pink,
½ pint turpentine.
Produces 1 gallon of stain.

Mahogany Brown

7 ½ pints varnish
½ to 1 pound Vandyke brown,
4 ounces burnt umber,
¼ pint turpentine.
Produces about 1 gallon of stain.

Walnut

7 ½ pints varnish,
½ to 1 pound Vandyke brown,
½ pint turpentine.
Produces about 1 gallon of stain.

Light Oak

7 ½ pints varnish,
½ to 1 pound raw sienna,
½ pint turpentine.
Produces about 1 gallon of stain.

Dark Oak

7½ pints varnish,
½ to 1 pound raw umber,
4 ounces burnt umber,
¼ ounce drop black,
1/2 pint turpentine.
Produces about 1 gallon of stain.

Cherry

7½ pints varnish,
½ to 1 pound burnt sienna,
1 ounce rose pink or maroon lake,
½ pint turpentine.
Produces about 1 gallon of stain.

Varnish Aniline Stains

¶ This group of stains is mixed by adding oil-soluble coal tar colors to the proper kind of varnish for the surface to be finished,cabinet, coach, spar or floor varnish. They are quite like other varnish stains except that the colors are far more transparent, brilliant and beautiful. Some of the colors are quite permanent to strong light while others are fugitive and fade too soon to be practical, especially the reds and greens.

¶ The aniline or other coal tar dye color ought first to be dissolved in hot turpentine. Place a pot containing a little turpentine in a pail of hot water and when very hot add the color, stirring until completely dissolved. Then add the color to the varnish, running it through a double thickness of cheese cloth to strain out any sediment or undissolved matter. Mix the color thoroughly into the varnish. One or several colors may be mixed into the varnish to produce the exact color hue wanted.

Shellac Aniline Stain

¶ A skilled brush hand can do a pretty good job of staining over old or new surfaces by using a stain mixed from shellac and spirit soluble anilines. Dissolve the aniline colors in hot denatured alcohol by placing the pot of alcohol in a pail of hot water away from the fire. The color when dissolved should be mixed with white shellac, making it thin or thicker as the case may require,about a 3 ½ pound-cut is needed usually (3% pounds of white shellac gum to 1 gallon of denatured alcohol). It takes a pretty good brush hand to spread this kind of stain over old varnish as is often done for cheap quick jobs.

Next Page: Mixing Stain.



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