I have a shop in Washington State. My finishing supplier used to come by and get my samples and then mix the stain or the tinted lacquer. He is no longer with the company, so now I have to come up with the stain and lacquer tints, but I have no formal training. Does anyone like a particular finish, or is there a supplier who sells a stain matching system that matches exactly every time?
From contributor A:
Did your supplier do the matches himself or does his company have a color matching lab?
Perhaps he'd be open to giving you some lessons?
Alternatively, the Industrial branch distributor of any of the major coating companies should have color matching services.
Learning to color match is not really something you can learn from forum responses, although I'm sure you'll get some excellent advice on how to get started.
In the mean time, what finish suppliers do you have in your area? Companies like Chemcraft, Becker Acroma, ML Campbell, and Sherwin Williams all usually do custom colors in stains, glazes, toners, and spray paints (e.g., lacquers, conversion varnishes, water-base). Unless you're pretty far out from a city, you might have another supplier in your area that can mix your colors.
An alternative is a stain mix system. Triclad has an intermix system with formulas and color chips for a few hundred colors using 10 stain bases. I think ICA may have a similar system if I remember right. One of these stain systems can save you a lot of trial and error.
Don't be dependent on suppliers Ė itís a very big part of being a finisher.
Itís not that hard to do. Many wood finishes do not use that many colorants.
Think positive, read the two articles, and begin trying to learn your colorants. It will come to you.
Keep in mind that a color on white paper isn't going to be the same on a piece of walnut. Absorption, dyes, pigments and all sorts of other things factor in when actually coloring wood. You can get a feel for colors this way without wasting more expensive materials. Research all types of materials such as dyes, pigments, oil, alcohol, water, tints, toners, glazes, wiping gel, etc.
It's a matter of training your eye to see the colors.
I agree with contributor C that most colors can be made from a very few tints. I got canned from a color matcher job once because I kept re-matching their stains with 3 or 4 tints instead of the 12 to 14 their formulas called for.