How to Make Homemade Wood Stains

Learn how to make water-, oil- and alcohol-based homemade wood stains.


| April 2015



Water-, oil- and alcohol-based homemade wood stains.

Before mixing your homemade wood stains, take ample time to observe the wood you are staining and the color you want to achieve.


Photo by James Wade

In The Furniture Bible (Artisan Books, 2014), master furniture restorer Christophe Pourny reveals everything you need to know about caring for furniture, whether you’re a woodworker, a collector, a fan of good design — or just looking to fix a scratch on your dining room table. Covering furniture materials and construction, shopping and collecting, and cleaning, repair, and refinishing, The Furniture Bible is a timeless and definitive guide. The following excerpt explains how to make homemade wood stains and comes from “Part 5: Tool School.”

Buy this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Furniture Bible.

There are three types of stains: oil-, water-, and alcohol-based. For the recipes below, use pigment that’s appropriate for the medium (each one is processed differently).

You can also add pigments directly to finishes like tung oil, creating a product that stains, seals, and finishes simultaneously (multitasking products are not a modern invention!). You can add pigments to varnish, although add only a small amount — just enough to give a highlight or subtle hue. Any more would look weird, and the result would be difficult to predict.

What You Will Need to Make Homemade Wood Stain

• Glass container
• Pigment
• Medium appropriate to that pigment (e.g., oil for oil pigment)
• Wood or plastic stirrer
• Powdered whiting or powdered chalk (optional)

Oil-based Stain

You can make oil-based stains with a good-quality gum turpentine or naphtha if you want a longer open time, which comes in handy when staining larger surfaces and avoiding lap marks.





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