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I want to protect the wood with stain, but I do not want it to become a different color. Is it possible to find a stain that is the same color as the wood? If I were to find such a stain, would the wood still become a different color slightly because of all of the existing shades?

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You're misunderstanding what a stain is. In the traditional sense of the word (slightly diluted by modern commercial usage) a stain's job is to colour wood, and that is its sole function.

Protection is provided by something else, i.e. your final finish, be it shellac, varnish or lacquer.

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    I think the confusion may come from the difference between interior stain vs. exterior stain, which is advertised as being a protective finish. For example, when staining a house, you don't apply a separate protective varnish over the stain. Also, "protect" has a somewhat different meaning in the context of an indoor furniture project vs. a house which is protected against the sun, rain, etc., but not necessarily against standing water, scratches, and dents. – rob Jun 19 '15 at 22:24
  • I was under the impression that applying the stain makes the color last longer. For example, when the sun bleaches a wood, the process would take longer to occur, so applying a stain of the same color would allow for that color to hold longer. – School Is Awesome Jun 19 '15 at 22:32
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    There ate two issues here. Yes, a pigment stain may be more resistant to sun bleaching than the organic compounds in wood. (Key word is may; check the specs on the particular product. ) But a proper outdoor varnish, such as spar varnish, blocks most UV from getting thru . – keshlam Jun 20 '15 at 1:18
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You don't need a 'stain' to protect wood. There are however plenty of clear finishes available, that cause minimal color changes.

Wood color only exists in cartoons. Every single species has different colored wood and some species have vast differences across the species. That is part of the reason for stains with names like 'red oak', golden oak, cherry, walnut, etc. Each is an attempt to stain one wood to look like another, (or make a whole piece look the same, ie. staining a cherry table cherry to make the color more even.)

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For what its worth I think a "natural finish" usually ends up best. I think this is what you mean by not stain it a different colour. Natural stains tends to deepen the colour that is already in your wood. One good choice is natural oil: http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/813373/(H)-Watco-Natural-Gal.aspx?gclid=CL2K7LOgnMYCFcGRHwodG_sBvg

Its always a good idea to try your finish on a piece of scrap.

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