I ordered a side table from a reputable manufacturer. The table was supposed to look like this:

Expected side table

However, when I received the table, it looked like this:

Actual side table

The white on the side table that I received is way too dominant and makes the table, in my opinion, off-putting. The person who sold this to me is saying that the white comes from cerusing and will vary based on wood grain, but I find it hard to believe that there wasn't some measure of bad workmanship involved. Is it possible that the stain underneath the cerusing was baddly applied / sealed in a way that made the white penetrate more deeply? Here is a closer look at the finish on my table:

A closer look at the finish


A finish technique like this is expected to have a high degree of variation based on any number of factors, including pore size, grain pattern, ring spacing (i.e. growth speed of the tree), etc. I don't think you can really fault the manufacturer for this type of inconsistency. It doesn't look like there's anything wrong with this finish per se.

(Honestly, though, to me this looks more like a difference in the lighting or photographic settings than a difference in the finish.)

If all you want to do is make the white less vibrant I'd try a wash coat of shellac with a darker aniline dye in it.

  • Thanks for your answer. Could you please expand on that shellac comment? I don't know much about this stuff and I just want to make sure I understand your suggestion. I know that shellac is a type of finish, but I'm unsure about the part about the darker aniline. Is this something that shellac products have inside them and I need to choose one that has a darker tone? Or is this a separate product that I would need to buy and mix with the shellac? Won't shellac make my table look yellow? Also, is shellac compatible with cerusing? I know that some finished have restrictions. Thanks!
    – Kevin
    Apr 18 '19 at 23:44
  • 1
    @Kevin. Welcome to WSE. The follow up question posed in your comment could require a more substantial answer. I suggest that you convert your comment into another question.
    – Ashlar
    Apr 19 '19 at 0:21
  • @Kevin, I concur with this Answer, however I would strongly recommend you not try the shellac suggestion. The main thing is you don't know what the 'cerusing' is done with, or what the black is for that matter, but even if there's no interaction a tinted shellac will tone all the white to a grey, which may just make the thing look dingy. What you really want is for the grain of the wood to be different – more like in the sample pic – and that's just not going to happen. [contd]
    – Graphus
    Apr 19 '19 at 6:30
  • If you can't live with it as it stands, my suggestion would be to paint the whole thing black and then, assuming you don't like how it looks at that stage, do the 'liming' again yourself. Although that is admittedly like buying a dog and barking yourself it will allow you to control how much white remains (and simultaneously will give you insight into how much the grain of the individual pieces of wood plays into the final result).
    – Graphus
    Apr 19 '19 at 6:34

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