How to Make Homemade Wood Stains

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


| April 2015


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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