Bookcase-Progress 9

The inaugural first coat of Hillbilly Pine Enhancer is on and I think I may have a winner.

OK, let me back up a little and tone down the BS.

I use pine for a lot of my projects.  Damn near all of them actually.  Partly because I’m frugal, partly because its easy to obtain and I simply enjoy working with it.  Pine has a lot of pluses and minuses, but finishing has to be pine’s biggest downside.  I further complicate it by trying to use as non-toxic products.  This last bit is even more important now that my shop space is directly connected to my house.

My general finishing choices are typically Tried & True Original finish, milk paint, shellac and wax.  More often than not, I use some combination from that list.  What I have been lacking is some way to “stain” pine.  On occasion I get lucky and find a few boards that have nice coloring and need nothing but a coat of oil or clear shellac, but typically pine looks a little bland all on its own.

Cherry Top, pine base stained with barn red milk paint

Cherry Top, pine base stained with barn red milk paint

In the past I have experimented with a milk paint stain.  That actually works pretty well.  The drawback being that I’m limited to the available colors and there is a good bit of extra work involved.  Milk Paint stain is mostly water and raises the grain.  So after the “stain” dries there is a round of sanding to do.  Then it needs a protective top-coat of either shellac or oil.  It’s a viable option for smaller pieces, but a bit daunting for larger pieces such as the bookcase I’m working on.

Somewhere along the way I got the idea of tinting BLO.  After a little digging, I found a reference to tinting Tried & True Danish oil with artist’s oil paint.  Turns out that artist oil paint is mostly linseed oil.  So I made a trip to the art supply store across town and bought a tube of paint.


Like an idiot, I added the entire tube of paint to the can of oil and the paint just sank to the bottom of the can in a heap.  What I should have done is emptied the tube of paint into a separate container and slowly added oil until the mixture was more oil than paint.  Anyway, lesson learned.  All I needed to do was get the paint and oil mixed together.  I tried a bamboo skewer, no joy.  Then I remembered seeing a whisk of some sort that management had stashed in a kitchen drawer.  I slipped into the kitchen, rooted through the drawers and found my prize.  Worked like a charm.  (Damn!  I better get that thing cleaned up before she reads this.)


Experimenting with an unproven finish on a completed project is not for the faint of heart.  I did try the mixture on a sample piece, but a sample piece never tells the whole story.  Sometimes you just have to go for it.

Is it a dramatic change?  I’ll leave that to you.  What it did do was add even color to the pine and enhance the grain.  What it didn’t do is just as important.  There is no blotching or streaking.  How about them apples?

I’ll lay on a second coat tomorrow and see what that does.  Once I’m satisfied with the color, or taken it as far as it will go, I’ll top coat with the Tried & True Original mixture.

Oh, I also got a pretty good start on the new workbench.  Should have it looking like a bench tomorrow too.


Part 8 Greg Merritt Part 10

This entry was posted in HBD Bookcase and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Bookcase-Progress 9

  1. Pingback: Bookcase-Progress 8 | GREG MERRITT – BY MY OWN HANDS

  2. davidos says:

    this is a very interesting idea to deal with colouring pine without blotching a natural way , i have a lot of finishing books form the so call experts and i have never heard of this one. well done Greg.looking forward to seeing end result ,love your posts. why a new bench by the way? or is it just a second addition to new shop.
    regards David

  3. bloksav says:

    Hi Gregg
    Impressive amount of progress you seem to be making (as always)

    What a great idea to tone the Danish oil with some artist color. I think it looks great on the book shelf. I doesn’t seem to have darkened the piece very much.

    Have fun building a workbench.

    • Greg Merritt says:

      Hi Jonas,
      I just work steady. A few minutes here and there add up pretty quickly.

      This method should work with any BLO. The Tried & True brand of “Danish” oil is really just poolymerized linseed oil, but no heavy metal driers. So non-toxic and safe to handle with bare hands and I don’t have to worry about children or pets around it.

      I was going for a tonal change that didn’t look like it was laying on the surface. I think I may be on to something. 😉

      Should have bench looking object by the end of today.


  4. Randall says:

    I would call that a subtle change of color and it looks great. Have you ever tried dyes? They are water based and require sanding but they seem to give even coverage and the intensity is controllable by strength of mixture

    • Greg Merritt says:

      Agreed. I wanted to change the tone more than “stain” it a different color. Dyes, from my research, present the same problems as using stain. There is a fair amount of prep work with either stain or dye and the results can still be “iffy”.

  5. momist says:

    Sadly there was a fashion here in the UK several years ago for “Antique Pine” which both gave true antique pine a bad name, and pine furniture overall an even worse name. The stain used to ‘Antique’ the pine was either 1) orange or 2) dirty grey. Sometimes both. A few years prior to that fashion, I bought a lovely _new_ pine dresser in the Welsh style. Very pale at first, the colour of that piece is now superb!

    What you have achieved is far superior to the stained pieces then, but I would caution overdoing it, as the pine itself will darken with time into that beautiful ‘antique pine’ colour that true unstained pine gets with age, and light. There is a danger that any stain used on the surface, acceptable when first applied, becomes more obvious as the wood darkens.

    • Greg Merritt says:

      The trend here in the states was to apply a really dark brown stain to pine and call it “antique”. Looked like ass in my opinion.

      What I’m going for is a “jump start” to the natural aging process that BLO and pine will achieve on their own. Time will tell, but so far so good.

  6. Deniseg says:

    What prompted you to make a new bench? I’m following your approach to staining pine very closely. So far the result looks very good. Are you familiar with these shellac finishing products? I’m going to try them on a future project. Doucette Wolfe uses them extensively in their finishing process. Another less toxic finish option.

    • Greg Merritt says:

      Thanks Denise.
      I’ve only used the Zinsser pre-mixed stuff. I’m basically lazy, especially when it comes to applying a finish to a project. I want simply to apply, non-toxic and repeatable results. In my perfect world someone else would apply it. 🙂
      This little experiment shows promise though.

  7. Deniseg says:

    Also, Greg – have you tried dies on pine. There are waterbed dies, I have not experience, but when I see them used I like that they don’t obscure the grain like stain does.

  8. John Vernier says:

    My grandfather used this technique to color and grain-fill some ash furniture he made in the 1950s. He managed to create a very subtle pale grey effect which I need to try to duplicate someday. He was a painter who had been brought up as a carpenter, so I think he was working with materials at hand. I have tried the technique as a grain-filler on mahogany which was previously colored with dyes and given a light sealer coat of shellac, and I was very pleased with the result, and I will certainly be doing it again.

  9. billlattpa says:

    Great idea, and one I’m going to have to try myself one of these days. I love the cabinet, and would honestly build a copy if I had the right space for it. Well done, yet again.
    Also, that workbench design is just about as good as it gets, and it’s amazing just how quickly you can put together a solid (and nice-looking bench). That one could be on the list as well 🙂


    • Greg Merritt says:

      Thanks Bill. Don’t follow me down this rabbit hole just yet. This is still in the experimental phase. Once I have this project finished I’ll know a little more as to how well this will work.
      I’m having a blast building the bench. Getting excited to put it to work.

  10. Have you tried home made stains, like walnut,

  11. Pingback: Bookcase-Progress 10-Complete | GREG MERRITT – BY MY OWN HANDS

  12. Pingback: Staked Side Table-Part 8 | GREG MERRITT – BY MY OWN HANDS

  13. Pingback: Table Trestles-Part 8 | HILLBILLY DAIKU

  14. Pingback: How I Apply an Oil/Wax Finish | HILLBILLY DAIKU

If you don't comment this is just a fancy way for me to talk to myself.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s