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Refinishing dark oak top on a dresser


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New member
20 Aug 2020
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Hi all,

My girlfriend has bought a second hand dressing table in a dark oak finish (or dark teak, it seems a bit warmer than dark oak). The dresser is in good condition other than the top, which has a big patch of water damage that's stripped off the finish and gone grey, and whatever original finish was on the top is now brittle, rough and scratches very easily. It's a hardwood veneered top, so I'm thinking a chemical strip rather than sanding, but the challenge is finding a product or approach that will roughly match the colour and finish of the original piece. There's an area of veneer that was under a rail where I've been able to test some finishes. I bought some Liberon stains in various colours (teak, dark oak, walnut) but even after multiple coats the colour is way too light - the darkest patch pictured is four applications of the teak stain allowing it to to dry properly between coats.

Is anyone able to recommend an approach or product that would allow me to roughly match the colour of the rest of the unit? I've used General Finishes gel stains before to good effect to get darker colours, but they are very expensive in the UK and I'd probably have to buy two or three different cans to try to match the colour, which would cost way more than the dressing table did!

Any advice is much appreciated.

Water damage on the top visible here, it looks worse IRL.

Test of stains, not getting anywhere near the level of colour needed.