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Thread: Wood Color and Color Changes

  1. #1
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    Wood Color and Color Changes

    Hi all:

    I have a few questions about color:

    When I look on the net at some of the lighter woods like ash, alder, and birch, I see all different kinds of color variations and tints.

    1) Are these differences due to color variations in the wood itself (like where it grew or its environment) or in the finishing/staining or both?

    2) Does this mean that you can achieve pretty much any color effect you want depending on how you finish (a lighter wood)?

    2) Are all woods going to darken over time no matter what the finish is?

    Thanks all,
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Villa Park, CA
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    Around here, a lot of cabinets are are made of alder and finished to look like some other wood, or finished to be a lot darker than natural alder. So I'd have to say, yes, you can achieve almost any color effect through finishing. You do need to be a good finisher, however.

    I once had a professional woodworker tell me that it doesn't matter what wood he buys because his finisher can make it look like whatever he needs.

    Mike
    Ancora imparo
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  3. #3
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    Floydada, Tx
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    We use alot of poplar for cabints and can make it look just like cherry or walnut. Just depends on how you finish it. However some darker woods will get lighter as the age, such as walnut.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cynthia White View Post
    1) Are these differences due to color variations in the wood itself (like where it grew or its environment) or in the finishing/staining or both?

    2) Does this mean that you can achieve pretty much any color effect you want depending on how you finish (a lighter wood)?

    2) Are all woods going to darken over time no matter what the finish is?
    1) Yes to both.

    2) As mentioned, lighter woods can be made to match a lot of other woods with dyes and stains. Darker woods can be manipulated a little, but it's hard to make walnut look like pine.

    3) Offhand, I can only think of a couple of lighter woods that change color appreciably over time...cherry and osage orange. I'm sure there are others, bnut those are the ones that come to my worn-out mind.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
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  5. #5
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    Nit-picky point about OO changing color. It isn't time that darkens it, the change is due to exposure to UV rays in light. I have a piece that is most kept out of the light except for short periods of time. It is still almost as light as when I first worked it five years ago.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  6. #6
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    Mulberry changes from yellow to brownish, naturally.
    "We the People ......"

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Fusco View Post
    Nit-picky point about OO changing color. It isn't time that darkens it, the change is due to exposure to UV rays in light. I have a piece that is most kept out of the light except for short periods of time. It is still almost as light as when I first worked it five years ago.
    To nit-pick your nit-picking...I didn't say time darkened it. I said it darkened over time. You are correct, though. UV darkens osage orange (and cherry) over time.

    I have hollow forms I've made of both woods and the bottoms on both are still nearly as light as they were when new, just like your seldom-exposed piece.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    You can slow down the color change in some woods by using a UV blocking finish, but eventually I think the color will change unless you keep the wood completely out of any UV light. Osage orange is a bright yellow when fresh cut but will turn to a light brown/tan color. I wish it wasn't so.
    I'm a certifiable tree hugger. (it's a poor mans way of determining DBH before cutting the tree down)

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