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Q & A: Matching Old Stains


I have to match an old
stain. I’ve come pretty close
with a new stain I bought at
the hardware store, but it’s
not good enough. Is there a
way I can tint the stain?


There are several fairly
simple ways to alter the color of
commercial stain. Probably the
easiest is to mix two or more
colors of the same type and
brand of stain to match what
you need. This guarantees that the components
and drying times are compatible and consistent.

You can also alter a stain with small amounts
of concentrated pigment pastes called “universal
tinting colors.” They are compatible with both oilbased
and water-based stains and are available
from most home stores and many craft stores.
Because the universals, called UTCs, are so concentrated,
you probably won’t be adding enough
to substantially change the drying time of the
stain you started with.

If you are certain that the stain is oil based, you
can also tint it with artist’s oil colors or Japan colors.
Both are available from most craft and art
supply stores. Again, the small amounts you
are likely to add probably won’t affect the drying
time much, but as a rule of thumb, oil colors will
typically slow down the drying time while Japan
colors will not.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker June 1999, issue #73.

June 1999, issue #73

Purchase this back issue.

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