This over 100 year old Tiger Oak dining table was a battle of wills... me vs the wood!
My client was less than pleased with the Orange-ish hue the table came with when she purchased it. She envisioned a murky black finish with the figured parts of the grain popping bright. I couldn’t guarantee her a black table, but I would deliver a one of a kind finish she and I both fell in love with.
There are many lessons to be learned as I develop my refinishing skills, lesson learned here... oak has a brown soul!
After completely removing the existing finish, (someone else did in the early 90’s) I began the process of staining.
Step 1: A slip coat of mineral spirits, a heavy coat of Black Gel Stain applied with a foam brush following the grain and a steady supply of paper shop towels to wipe away the excess. Low and behold I had a brown table when the first layer was wiped away! I did already know that the figured wood was going to grab the stain a little differently and that in order to get the “pop” of contrast I would need to sand a bit back. The figured pattern is a bit raised so I knew with careful sanding I could remove some stain just from those parts. However, I have a brown table, with little to no black in sight.
Step 2: After 24 hours of dry time I slather on another thick coat of Black Gel Stain, armed with my shop towels, I allow this coat to rest just a bit longer before wiping the excess away. Guess what? Not a lot happened! Maybe a wee bit darker brown... definitely not black like my client dreamed.
Step 3: I cry. Maybe curse a little. Lol
Step 4: I risk it all... I apply a solid, even, thick coat of Black Gel Stain on a 100 year old antique table and walk away. I might as well have painted it black by the shocked response from some of my social media followers who were following the saga of this table! The didn’t have the patience to wait for step 5 --
Step 5: I wait. 48 hours, that’s a lot of waiting. Then, early on a Tuesday morning, I bust out my orbital sander, slap on some 220 sandpaper and go to town! (Oh and go through about 15 sheets of sandpaper!)
Right before my eyes, it was happening. The figured wood was getting lighter and popping while the heavy grain was holding not total black, but deep shades of black, walnut and dark brown. The transformation was taking on a life of its own... I knew I had to let it. My client also knew, we had to let this table become its own vision!
So here is a 100+ year old tiger oak table with a wild yet stately finish! I hope you enjoyed the journey... be careful, it’s a jungle out there! Rawr!