Pickling (Liming) Oak Doors

Finishers suggest approaches for getting a "pickled Oak" finish. September 27, 2008

I own a cabinet shop and have received a large order, and Im liming the doors. I have never done the procedure, and the customer needs the doors in a rush. The customer wants the grain of the doors to be white, but the top of the door to be clear. Does anyone have any suggestions? I have over 600 doors to do.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor J:
I assume these are oak? This is the way I would do a production friendly version of this finish: Sand and seal coat, scuff the seal coat and spray a wash coat. Glaze the doors with a white glaze, working the glaze down into the grain. Wipe the flats clean of glaze. A powder glaze may speed things up and these are spayed on, dry quickly and then scuffed off with a scotch brite pad. After glazing, clear coat in the desired sheen X2 coats.

From contributor R:
Start making samples and get one approved and signed before you touch a single door. What wood species are the doors? What type of finish are you going to be applying?

Will you be spraying and what type of equipment do you have? With 600 doors I am assuming they are interior doors but are all of them interior? Get back with a little more info and someone will get you all set up.

From contributor A:
As Contributor R says, sample first and get signed. And liming is usually not done in a pure white but more towards a very slight warm grey white, so check that out first.

I also will assume these are oak, and whether or not they are raised panel or flat you are going to have to scrub the color into the pores or much of it will just bridge across. Pre-sand, and I wouldn't even bother to seal.

I would use a simple bin shellac primer tinted to the color desired, spray if you want or use a roller but you will still need to give it a quick scrub with a brush to get it pushed down into the grain. Then swipe off the flats as much as possible quickly without pulling it out of the grain and let it dry a bit. It should dry very quickly. Then you can finish removing the remaining residue with denatured alcohol. Clear coat, scuff sand and top coat with your chosen clear.

There are door cleat angles that can attach to the top of two doors at a time so that the doors can stand up and both sides and all edges (but the bottom) can be done at the same time.

From contributor D:
If you are doing this on oak, then scrub the oak in the raw wood with a stiff wire brush to open up the pores as much as possible. The give the wood a thin "wash coat" of sealer. Next apply the color you want heavy enough so that it goes into the pores, but then wipe it all off the flat surfaces. You will be left with clear wood with the color in the pores only. I have done this to get a black oak with white pores, and it can be quite effective.

From contributor M:
Contributor R is absolutely right - make a sample and get it signed. Now, that being said, the fastest, easiest pickling I've ever seen or done was with a white wiping stain. I've used ML Campbell's white Woodsong II wiping stain on many jobs and it is a great product. I have not tried any of the other ways of pickling, but this stuff really whitens up everything.