Flat Black Finish that Shows Grain

      Finishers discuss ways to apply a thin, flat, black finish. November 13, 2005

I am wondering how I can replicate this finish shown in the picture below. I want to eliminate the figure of the wood and only emphasize the surface grain. I have made these bookcases for a client that is into the very modern and contemporary. They are made from solid and white oak plywood. I am really not a finisher by trade but a great deal of the painters here in Miami cannot exactly replicate the finish, and I guess it is up to me now. The finish should be somewhat matte. Any help is appreciated.

Click here for full size image

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor L:
I would suggest that you use a grain filler to eliminate the grain holes and then use a random orbit sander to sand the piece down. If you use a widebelt sander it will flatten the grain pattern down. I think you will be stuck with using an oil or latex paint because even a dull lacquer is going to be shinier than what is shown in your picture. Using a random orbit (electric) hand sander will sand the harder and softer portions of the wood differently and let the grain pattern show through.

From contributor M:
I have had great luck with Valspar conversion varnish. Start with the 40% sheen, and if you need it duller they have a matting agent you can add to get less sheen. It’s pretty thick so make sure to test it first.

From contributor W:
To the original questioner: If I read you right, you want the texture of the wood but not the color? If that is right then try a Sherwood black dye stain. We use Sherwin Williams. Then use a little dye in the seal coat (toner). Topcoat with clear; dull rubbed CV would do the trick. Don't use a grain filler if you want the texture. Sherwin Williams will mix the dye stain for you at one of their commercial coatings stores. You will find one in most metro areas. If you bring them a sample and a raw piece of wood they can match just about any color. They cannot make this stain at the local paint store.

From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
It looks like a relatively thin black pigmented finish Dave. I'd start with one coat of a low solids clear vinyl sealer followed by two thin coats of black lacquer (I use pre-catalyzed lacquer). If you use a primer/sealer or pigmented finish with too high a solids content (too thick) the pores of the wood will not be as sharp - they'll be more filled and rounded over. I guess this look is making the rounds. I've had a couple requests for samples in this style and did one pretty large kitchen in off-white.

From contributor R:
That looks like a pigmented black finish to me. We used to do that finish at a large furniture manufacturer I worked for a long time ago. We used SW Black primer/surfacer thinned down at least 50/50, scuffed it well and top-coated with a pre-cat clear lacquer. This was a SW formula designed for this company so I am sure they could set you up with something or you could just figure it out for yourself.

I make my own version these days. I just tint my vinyl sealer with 844 black UTC, spray on a good coat followed by a couple of coats of clear pre-cat and I'm done. I prefer dye stain or chemical stain when I can use it but your picture looks like a painted job to me. There is a lot of that out there.

From contributor W:
If you are going for the black painted look then use the SW black pigmented conversion varnish. It is a lot easier than fooling with thick black lacquer and sealer.

From contributor B:
I built an E-center, bath pullman and bath mirror frame all in a contemporary style (using alder plus maple) for a lady who wanted that same style of finish. I used a black WB dye stain (hit it twice) and finished off with WB poly in a flat sheen. It was very easy, looked great and she loved it.

Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?

Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?
  • KnowledgeBase: Knowledge Base

  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing

  • KnowledgeBase: Finishing: General Wood Finishing

    Would you like to add information to this article? ... Click Here

    If you have a question regarding a Knowledge Base article, your best chance at uncovering an answer is to search the entire Knowledge Base for related articles or to post your question at the appropriate WOODWEB Forum. Before posting your message, be sure to
    review our Forum Guidelines.

    Questions entered in the Knowledge Base Article comment form will not generate responses! A list of WOODWEB Forums can be found at WOODWEB's Site Map.

    When you post your question at the Forum, be sure to include references to the Knowledge Base article that inspired your question. The more information you provide with your question, the better your chances are of receiving responses.

    Return to beginning of article.

    Refer a Friend || Read This Important Information || Site Map || Privacy Policy || Site User Agreement

    Letters, questions or comments? E-Mail us and let us know what you think. Be sure to review our Frequently Asked Questions page.

    Contact us to discuss advertising or to report problems with this site.

    To report a problem, send an e-mail to our Webmaster

    Copyright © 1996-2016 - WOODWEB ® Inc.
    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without permission of the Editor.
    Review WOODWEB's Copyright Policy.

    The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

    WOODWEB, Inc.
    335 Bedell Road
    Montrose, PA 18801

    Contact WOODWEB

  • WOODWEB - the leading resource for professional woodworkers

      Home » Knowledge Base » Knowledge Base Article