Advice on tinted finish

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    Matthew Newman

    I am helping a friend fix up see small boxes, basically trying to clean up and refinish. My plan was to sand them down and shellac them. I started sanding and very quickly I lost all the color. I’ve attached a picture of one I haven’t done anything to and the bits peaking through look like pine. They were introduced to me as mini cedar chests but I’ve found that they were made by a company known for cedar chests but these are just small non-cedar versions of their cedar chests.

    After doing some research I found these boxes were finished with tinted lacquer and otherwise made with light colored wood. I’m pretty sure these are pine. Does anyone have any recommendations on how to get pine to look like the picture color wise (preferably with shellac)? It doesn’t have to be exact just in the same ballpark.



    A tinted finish is known as a toner, sometimes called a shader. I’ve used them extensively in the touch up business. They are also quite common in commercial furniture factories as they are quick to apply and (lacquer versions) are quick to dry. They also repair with more ease if there is transit damage.

    In my experience, they are best sprayed in very light coats. Attempting to brush usually results in a streaked finish (voice of experience speaking here). They also go from not quite to too much very quickly, so go very light coats. Better 3 thin coats than one thick one. You can buy pre-tinted lacquer in aerosols sold to the touch up industry. In the USA, Guardsman and Mohawk are two large brands. Most of Guardsman’s are pigmented, but Mohawk sells both dye and pigment versions. Jeff Jewitt also sells Trans-Tint dyes that are compatible with shellac, but again spray in light coats. If you have never used any of these before, practice on scrap until you get the hang of it.

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