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Van Dyck crystals

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Student

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I’m still in the process of renovating my daughter’s place in France. The last room to be worked on is nearly finished, thanks to my son-in-law who does all the heavy work, pointing stonework, plastering and the like. My job is to look after repairs to the woodwork. Due to problems with damp, and subsequent wet rot, I have had to cut away the ends of the parquet flooring and rip out some of the skirting boards. I’m now in the process of machining the replacement parquet and also have to do some oak trim round the doors and window sill. The skirting boards will have to wait until later.

My problem will be matching the stain on the floorboards, doors and skirting boards. The room was last renovated over 40 years’ ago, possibly longer, by the previous owner. I doubt that modern stains were available at the time and there’s no sign of varnish judging by the dirty marks on the doors where people have handled it (if you try to wash off the dirty marks, this takes off some of the stain). There is also a very slight sheen on the woodwork. This leads me to believe that they were stained with a water based stain such as Van Dyke crystals and then given some form of oil finish. Trying to buy modern stains to match the current colour is a bit problematical so I was thinking about using Van Dyke crystals to get the colour I want and then coating with Osmo. Has anyone got any experience of using Van Dyke crystals and, if so, are there any tips that you can give me? I assume that Osmo will be OK for the finish as it’s oil and not water based.
 

Jamied

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Hi, I've used crystals for years and I am a big fan of them , they are really good for giving the wood a real aged look.
I used to have a business making country furniture and kitchens where I had a big tank full of the stuff and we would dip the furniture in.
Nowadays I just use a small sponge to apply, a brush can be used.
I find mixing it with warm/hot water really helps with the mixing as the crystals resist mixing in. In a bucket ,adding a bit at a time, and a good stirring stick. A little goes a long way.
Get some rubber gloves on as it makes your hands look like you are a chain smoker, hard to get off your skin.
Once dry, do not let your wood get wet as it will easily show water or tea cup marks. Make sure it's well dry before applying your oil finnish or your oil finnish will never dry.
I quite often just use the crystals to gain a base colour and put a oil stain on top to get the shade I need.
Hope this helps.
 

MusicMan

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One little extra point. The depth of the colour depends on the concentration of the mix, so you can easily match the existing old wood. Just add crystals till it looks about right then test on an offcut and let it dry. Too light: add more crystals. Too dark: add water.

I use it on oak restorations also.

Keith
 

sammy.se

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You can also layer on the VDC to achieve darker colour - which might be a safer approach.

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Student

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Thanks again to Jamie and also to Keith and Sammy Se for your help so far. Could you give some further advice to the ignorant please?

Like other stains, is it advisable to use some form of sanding sealer such as cellulose/shellac before applying the stain?

Secondly, being water based, the stain will, presumably, raise the grain. How deep does the stain penetrate as, when sanding back the raised grain, I don’t want to sand the colour away?
 

sammy.se

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I used my VDC solution on bare wood. It needs to absorb into the wood, so any sealer will just prevent that.

Yes, it raises the grain. Because it absorbs into the wood (I used it on beech), I denibbed lightly between my coats, and it was fine. It didn't lift the stain much.

I used wax over the VDC once it had dried fully, and it has remained nice and smooth.

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sammy.se

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Not really sure that 'denibbing' is the right word... I just sanded back very very lightly so that it stayed smooth. I used A high grit - 240, or 320 if I recall.

Ps - I did all my testing on a scrap piece of the same wood as my item. Highly recommended you do the same.
 

MusicMan

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Completely agree with sammy, no sealant. Also, I sometimes use a coat of plain water to raise the grain, then partially dry, then denib, then apply the stain. The grain rises much less the second time. And yes, it is a very light sanding; I use 600 (because I have lots of those from Abranet).

I simply used wax also, on a restoration. On a new build that needed resistance to coffee, alcohol etc I'd use Ferrees Hardwax Oil.
 

Student

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Thanks again chaps. I noticed on a picture of the Liberon VDC that they recommend denibbing with 0000 steel wool. I suspect that's not a good idea on oak. I'll use 240 grit as suggested which is the finest grit that Osmo suggest for use with Polyx.
 
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