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How to Build a Farmhouse Table (Post #5 – Mixing & Applying Custom Wood Finish)

How to mix & apply tinted finish for a Farmhouse Table (Harp Design copycat) -

This post is part of a series of posts for building a table out of raw lumber.  See my original post that introduces the table and all posts for the series – How to Build a Farmhouse Table (Harp Design copycat).

See my previous post about how I glued the table top together using dowels.

In this post I will show how I mixed a custom-tinted clear coat and applied it to the table top.

Why did I tint the clear coat?  The buyer wanted to preserve the natural wood look but wanted a slight gray tint.  I loved this finish process because I didn’t have to worry about staining and having bad luck with it blotching or coloring unevenly.  I especially loved that the depth of color increased with each coat application so that I could easily (and stress-free) achieve the desired color as I went.  Seeing a large piece of furniture with the finish on is much different than a sample board – you might change your mind as you go and that’s ok – just add new coats to increase the color.  Once the final color is achieved you can follow up with as many un-tinted coats as needed to complete the project.

For this project you will need:

-water-based clear coat (I used this one)

Transfast dye (I used the gray)

M-1 additive and extender (OPTIONAL – helps level water-based finishes)

-measuring container, measuring spoon & liquid syringe

paper paint strainers

-high quality finishing brush

-220/320 grit sandpaper

How to mix & apply tinted finish (Transfast Dye) for a Farmhouse Table (Harp Design copycat) - theprojectlady.comIt was a shot in the dark at first with what ratio to do of clear coat and dye.  I measured and wrote down exactly what measurements I did so I could replicate it if I liked the samples I made from it, or know what changes to make.  Luckily I only had to tweak the dye ratio once.

For the final measurements:  I poured 12 oz of clear coat into my measuring cup and added 2 oz of water on top of that (the water is to thin it because I planned to put it through my spray gun for the legs/apron pieces).  Then I added 4ml of M-1 (this is to help it spread and lay flat after brushing/spraying).  I used 1/4+1/16 tsp of gray Transfast dye.

I stirred everything together and poured it through my mesh strainer.

I was surprised at the clumps left behind from the dye.  Note: I pressed it against the mesh to dissolve it more  and dunk it into the jar underneath to soak up some of the color.

I did a sample board leaving the far left section raw, doing 1 plain clear coat and doing 1 and 2 layers of the tinted coat.  My friend (buyer) ended up choosing the sample with 2 coats so I did a clear coat over those to make 3.

To give you an idea of what more coats of the tint would look like, the sample board on the left shows what 2, 3 and 4 layers look like.  We were curious and doubled the amount of Transfast – the board on the right shows what 3 coats look like with around 3/4 tsp of dye.  You can get so many different shades by playing around – it’s awesome!

With the table top completely prepped and wiped clean I brushed the 1st coat on and let dry for a few hours.

I sanded with 220 grit paper, added another coat and sanded with 320.  Then I added my final coat.  I wish sanding between coats wasn’t necessary but it definitely is – it makes the biggest difference in the final product – so don’t skip it!  TIP: make sure there aren’t any drips, especially the underside of the wood (otherwise you’ll have really noticeable-dark drips).  I ran my finger along the bottom edge of the board after each coat to make sure there wasn’t any drips.

How to mix & apply tinted finish for a Farmhouse Table (Harp Design copycat) - The gray tone was just right to keep the wood looking natural while covering up the typical orange-y-oak color you get with a plain clear coat.  My favorite part about using the dye in the finish was it made it an all-in-one easy-to-apply process!  Win win!

– stay tuned for the next post where I talk about spraying the same finish with a gun – 

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