Custom Stain-Mixing Systems

Various ways to formulate your own stains any color you like. February 13, 2006

From time to time, I need to match an existing stain. I have been fairly successful in mixing various off-the-shelf stains to achieve the necessary hue, but I would like to buy high quality components and mix my own stains from scratch. Does anyone have advice on what bases, pigments, etc. I should try and where to get them?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor C:
I use Sherwin Williams stain concentrates. We also have their software program, which comes with their stock colors and the database is set up to take custom blends. Hitting a button will alter the formula for any quantity you need to make up.

From contributor D:
Do you have a Chemcraft distributor in your area? Chemcraft just came out with a new Intermix stain system. You get the stain base and 9 stain colors, 282 color chips and the formula book. A little spendy, but well worth it in the long run..

From contributor S:
Dyes or pigments or combinations of both? Pigmented stains are often done with Huls 844 series or equivalents, like Mohawk's Base Concentrates, Behlen's Master Colors, Hood Color Concentrates, etc.

You can use Ronan japan colors, but these are set in a different vehicle and could pose problems with catalyzed finishes because of the metallic driers in them. They need to be isolated with a barrier coat of shellac or vinyl sealer before continuing the finish schedule. If the vinyl sealer is catalyzed, you may need to just consider the shellac barrier coat. Acid catalyst could react with the metallic drier in the japan colors to change the color you just laid down.

UTC's can be used, but not with every stain base. The linseed oil base in the UTC's could create drying or adhesion issues.

So, you choose a colorant and then you need to select a clear stain base to mix it into. You can make your own or, better yet, buy a premixed one from a finish manufacturer. Follow the tech sheets on the clear stain base with regard to what kinds of colorants you can mix into them and in what proportions you can mix them. The game is not to create drying issues or problems with intercoat adhesion.

From the original questioner:
Thanks everyone. I'll check out the sources you have provided. Isn't WOODWEB great?

From contributor R
Had not heard about the new Chemcraft system, but it sounds convenient. I have found it best to always have on hand a series of stains (I have 18 cans of Chemcraft's easywipe stains, but you can use any company's system). Then you should always have a clear stain base (Lenmar u-1000 is great) on hand. In addition, I have a set of the 844 colorants that mix nicely with all of the above listed products. With that there should be no stain color you can not achieve. Sometimes it is achieved by just combining different ratios of two or more of the already mixed stains. Other times you may find a color is too concentrated, in which case you can just add clear stain base. Once you get close using one of the above mentioned methods, you can just tweak the color with the colorants.

From contributor G
I've used the same method as the above with good results. I also like to have a selection of Microton colors and some gilsonite around.

From contributor D
The Chemcraft Intermix System is only a couple of weeks old. We just got one set up and our techs are giving it the once over to see just how good it is.

From contributor O
What is the number code for this new product? We use Chemcraft finishes and my rep has not mentioned it yet. Would be nice to be one up on him!

From contributor D
No code yet, just ask about the Itermix system.