What to use to even out the colors

I am in the process of restoring my 57 Wagemager Cadillac.

I have stripped off the old varnish from the top and Hull.

The top surfaces are planked mahogany and the sides are cedar plywood.

It appears that a stain or tinted varnish was used on the orig. finish as the cedar is much lighter than the mahogany, plus I noticed when I stripped off the varnish, when sanding there appeared to be a color tinting coming off under the varnish.

If I re-varnished with nothing, I would end up with a 2 tone effect.

Does anyone know what was used originally and what are the best alternatives today to get even matched colors?

Comments for What to use to even out the colors

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Feb 14, 2013

Thanks so much for all the help!

I am getting a plan together, hopefully for a March finish.

Feb 13, 2013
Might be some helpful tips here..
by: Boatworks Today


Jan 31, 2013
by: Mark

The former comments are sound so to back them up I would suggest that in addition to a meticulous stripping, a successful staining job on porous wood such as cedar is aided by using a sanding sealer.

This is a dewaxed shellac.

The mahogany will benefit from a paste type stain that is intended to fill the open grain of the wood.

I would avoid tinted varnishes as they are difficult to apply evenly on a large surface.

I would suggest you have a good hard look at a book called "Understanding Wood Finishes" by Bob Flexner.

It is one of the few that relies on scientific inquiry to support or dispel common myths about finishing materials and techniques.

Jan 31, 2013
by: Nathan

Always use a filler stain such as interlux interstain test your color against existing stain using scrap.

When applying stain mask out an area that u can finish staining while still wet if you can't mask off a small portion for example hull sides never stain in a way that leaves a desernable line.

Jagged or curved edges are easier to blend.

Work back into the wet edge.

Apply and then remove with a clean rag so you don't get streaks.

Its not easy work.

You can count on your arms being tired.

Remember if you whent too dark you can sand it out but its a lot of work, so if you are unsure go light first.

Assuming you sanded well you can apply sealant.

Don't skip this step it will make you varnish work much flatter and even.

Check out my Innate Boats blog

Jan 31, 2013
by: Joe

As you have two different woods and one solid and one is a veneer getting a good match is going to be difficult.

You would be better to a tinted varnish rather than a stain on the cedar and clear varnish on the mahogany.

For a stain/dye to look even the wood must be completely free of any traces of the old varnish.

And once the dye has soaked into the wood you’ll find it difficult to alter.

On the other hand why try to make the cedar look like the mahogany?

Tone the cedar down by all means but enjoy it for what it is.

Jan 30, 2013
Wood Color/Stain
by: Brian

First order of refinishing! No power sanders, ever!

Hand sanding only!

Boat builders each had a color preference for their wood finish.

To this end they mixed their own stains, perhaps that secret blend of 'herbs 'n spices'.

When all the varnish is removed and chemically treated to get what embedded itself into the wood fibers, professional refinishers bleach everything to grayish, original wood on each and every part of the craft.

From there they stain each individual board and part of the boat to an even shade of preferred color.

If you're starting with different colored woods that complicates things and some experimentation is a must to obtain good, even color matches.

Some boards will need more or less stain, in fact, some spots on a board might need special treatment.

Start with any scraps of replaced wood by doing the whole nine yards, bleach, stain, allow to cure, usually 48 hours, re-stain as necessary until you've reached your goal.

Then apply 3 or 4 coats of good, spar varnish to make sure you've got what you want before even starting on your precious antique.

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