Reducing Contrast of Beech Boards

Tips for getting a more even color when finishing Beech wood. June 30, 2007

I have covered a wall with beech boards and was planning to finish them with a tung oil finish. I tried this out on some test pieces and the contrast between light and dark areas of the boards was too great. How can I even out the color of the boards without obscuring too much of the grain? I don't want to use a sprayer because the overspray would get on other surfaces in the room.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor C:
Simply add some pigment(s) to your tung oil finish to make it a transparent/translucent coating. You can control the degree of obscurity to get the best possible look while cutting the contrast to acceptable levels. Do some practice samples to get the feel for it and test your mixes. Multiple layers of finish are an option and you can apply an untinted topcoat for extra wear protection if you want to.

From contributor P:
I use the German Beech all the time. It's become my new favorite wood. If the problem is the difference in early and late wood, try sanding to at least 400 grit. I had some trouble when I first started using this wood and making dark colors with oil-based. The extra sanding really cut down on the light streaks. You can sand even finer and almost eliminate the streaks, but I like to keep a few in for the contrast.

If you're just trying to get an oil look, shellac does wonders to darken this stuff without losing any clarity. My standard finish for this beech is simply two 1lb cuts of Zinnser's Seal Coat and three sprays of the Target 9000 poly. It's a very nice, warm look and couldn't be any simpler to apply. This wood also does quite well with Transtint in water. It colors very evenly.