Color-Matching Aged Walnut

Tips on matching the naturally-aged color of antique walnut. April 30, 2006

I repair and refinish antique furniture. I am trying to match new black walnut with old walnut from mid to late 1800's furniture. Any suggestions or tips would be greatly appreciated. I use Kwick Kleen stain and Mohawk precat finish.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor B:
I don't know how to explain this to you. You just gotta play with it, man. Try bunches of colors, mix, match, etc. You have to find some sample wood to play on, try different things. Eventually you will find the correct color. For something like this I would try the following stain colors: medium brown walnut, perfect brown, Van Dyke brown, extra dark walnut, cherry. If you have those stains, or at least something like them, you should be able to get it no problem. Just take your time!

From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
Walnut gets lighter as it ages and gets some strong orange tones to it. Here's an old walnut board that shows the effects of aging:

Is this the color you're trying to match, or are you working with an old finish like this one?

From the original questioner:
I am having trouble blending the new walnut with the old. Every piece is refinished. I just cannot seem to get the black look out and get that nice aged walnut.

Yes, the color of the walnut board is close to the color I am trying to achieve. I use a stain from Kwick Kleen called classic walnut.

From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
I get very close using steamed walnut and an orange dye (e.g., Behlen Medium Walnut). If needed, I'll use a glaze on all the wood to mask small differences between old and new. The steam dried walnut has almost all of the color washed out, though there are still variations. The dye adds color back and lets you give it an aged look. The alternative is to get some air or kiln dried walnut and place it in the sun for a month or so to give it a good start on the aged color change.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for your help. I will try that and see how it works out. I have been using wood ager then staining, but it is still too black.