Saturday, February 21, 2009

Greene and Greene Wood Finishing

The techniques and processes I use (in furniture making) evolve over time. Sometimes a better method is found and other times change is forced upon me.
When I wrote my book, “Greene and Greene: Design Elements for the Workshop” I listed an aniline dye, English Brown Mahogany #43, for coloring the wood . Little was I to know that said aniline dye was about to be “no longer available”. This precipitated numerous emails and phone calls from my readers asking for an alternative.

What started out as misfortune turned into good fortune! I have not only found an alternative - but an improved process as well.
General Finishes dye stains come in several colors and can be infinitely mixed to achieve the desired results. I found that mixing 7 parts of their Orange dye stain with 4 parts of their Medium Brown Dye Stain produces a beautiful brown with orange overtones.
The dye stain is more user friendly than traditional (water base) aniline dyes. Whereas the traditional water base aniline dye would streak easily - the General dye stain does not streak nearly as much.
You will still need to raise the grain and scuff sanding with 320- grit. Three applications should produce the desired results although I would test first on scrap wood.

For the top-coat, as in my book, I recommend the 3-5 coats of General Finishes Arm-R-Seal satin.
Instead of the Bri-wax I used in the book, I now prefer Renaissance Wax. Use this stuff sparingly, not only because it is pricey, but because not much is needed for each application. Follow the instructions on the tin. Only do small areas at a time – if it dries and streaks before you can wipe it clean – use a little 0000-steel wool.

A related side note: An original hand written recipe for finishing the Thorsen house bedroom furniture can be viewed at the G and G Virtual archives. The original finish calls for Bichromate of Potash (potassium dichromate) which is nasty stuff.


  1. Clearly you would not dilute the GF dyes as much as the aniline dye, but do you dilute it at all?

  2. It appears to me in your photograph of the Blanket Chest that the ends pieces both trim and box end are thicker than the front pieces. I get this from looking at the ends of box joints where the end pieces appear thicker than the front piece ends. Is this true?


  3. Thanks for the advice about staining wood, I am always keen to try out other people's suggestions and will use your recommended mix on my next project

  4. The Trust are very pleased the work has finished . The Trust wish to thank Clancy Docwra . Repair a Varnished Wooden Floor

  5. You could also try W.D. Lockwood #43 English Brown Mahogany.

  6. Call Michelle providing high and super quality bespoke wood finishing and surface coating solutions for residential and commercial spaces in Canada.