12-31-2010 12:09 PM
I recently was on the receiving end of 200 bf of white ash for free. Couldn't pass up the great price, but I have never worked with white ash in the past. Looking for suggestions on how to achieve a variety of finishes to include best way to get a dark colored look like a dark walnut, a medium color like a golden oak, and a light finish like a hard maple. Is a pigment stain the way to go, or a water based dye, or an oil finish? Looking for stains that have been tried by others and produced an attractive result. The wood seems to have a hard tight grain similar to maple but it's appearance is more like red oak. Thanks for any suggestions offered.
12-31-2010 02:42 PM
I built a bedroom set of Ash about 20 years ago. I used Minwax Golden Oak. From my information at that time, it is a dye-only product. I will have to tell you it came out radically different than the same stain on red oak, though in the raw, they are similar. On ash, it was much more of a light yellow than the browns I got with that stain on oak. After the completion of that project I ran out the ash that I'd harvested from the family farm, so I don't think I've used it since.
Pigments will tend to highlight the pore structure and dyes tend to minimize it. So it depends on the look you want.
But the real answer to your question lies in running test samples.
01-10-2011 08:02 PM
When I built our home 2 years ago I had ash flooring installed and I wanted a dark walnut look. This was achieved by sanding the floor at 60 grit and wiping down with a wet rag to wisker up the wood fibers. Ash is very hard to get the lighter wood to accept a stain and this process worked very well. We experimented with a variety of Bona stains and wound up using Provencial and Ebony mix. 3-4 coats of Bona semi-gloss varnish finish completed the job.
01-11-2011 12:07 AM
For furniture applications, if you wish a dark color then you can simply start using a dye that will allow as dark as you like even if sanded to 180 or 220. I haven't used it enough to know if some examples have pores whose interiors "resist" waterbased dye application. The solution if it does, and you test boards should reveal it, then you simply follow the dye with a sealer and a pigment only stain (such as a gel stain) that does lodge in the pores. It's not a wood where you need to worry much about "blotching".
01-11-2011 04:04 PM
Thanks for the input to date guys. I guess white ash isn't very popular considering the few responses to date. I have played with a sample board using some minwax oil stains and a couple gel stains. Out of six samples two looked pretty good (one dark gel stain - espresso, and one golden oak oil stain by minwax) . I haven't tried any dyes yet not having much experience with them. I'm hoping for a few woodworkers to provide me some proven finishes they found to work well with this wood, and avoiding creating a lot of samples that look poor much more often than good. Thanks for the suggestions to date. Bob.
01-11-2011 09:46 PM - edited 01-11-2011 09:46 PM
I've worked extensively with ash, and had taken part in a furniture expo show which specifically revolved around urban reclaimed ash from trees that had to come down due to the emerald ash borer infestation in the upper Midwest.
HERE is a link to just the gallery page of that furniture show, meant to highlight some of the various 'looks' that ash can achieve based on the finishing schedule you select.
I'll also observe that it takes jet black dye pretty well.
Hopefully this helps.
01-13-2011 11:19 AM
Matt, I'm surprised that working with ash hasn't made you suicidal. I cut down a couple of trees on my place and had them milled, so I've been working with ash quite a bit too. It's made me want to find a new hobby. It's hard and likes to burn when cutting, tears out when being planed or jointed and takes stain like a piece of rubber.
01-13-2011 12:01 PM - edited 01-13-2011 01:02 PM
That's not my mileage at all. I find working with ash about like working with white oak (but not red oak - which I despise). I get a little burning, but that's easily remedied and is not as bad as with, say, maple or cherry.
I don't see the wood splitting out ahead of the cutter like I do all the time with red oak, and when applying a finish I've had nothing but success. I've stained it, clear-coated it, dyed it and one designer client even did a Scandanavian-style soap finish on a piece that I fabricated for her. In all instances it's been pretty well behaved.
I've used... somewhere in the neighborhood of 300bf of urban reclaimed ash over the course of the last three years or so. So far, so good.
01-13-2011 01:31 PM
I have had good success with Ash using Watco Danish Oil. It gave it a nice warm color and took it really well. I know some don't like it, but it worked for me.