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I have a client that has me stumped. We installed a lovely new stone facade for a client, but their vision for the mantle has me at a loss. They like Minwax Carbon color stain, but want a deep color, non-grainy finish. The closest I've gotten is 2 coats on pre-stain conditioned Aspen, but it still has too much grain pattern. Any ideas on other species (tried all the usual ones, oak [too red], poplar [too green], pine [too grainy]) before I move into colored varnishes?

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    Aspen has too much grain showing?! Yikes. Is the client actually sure they want wood because it sounds like they want something pretty much featureless o_O For someone this picky I'd consider 'cheating', pick a fine-textured wood (like aspen or poplar), paint the wood to obscure 95% of what little grain variation there is and then use a coloured finish over the top. Needless to say you wouldn't tell them that's how you did it. – Graphus Aug 17 '19 at 23:19
  • Is their problem with the grain that they can see the color differences through the stain or that they can see the raised texture of the growth rings? – SaSSafraS1232 Aug 19 '19 at 18:52
  • they don't like the color variation caused by the woodgrain. – Brian Alderson Aug 19 '19 at 19:42
  • I'm thinking I'll try the aspen with pre-stain conditioner, 3 coats of stain, then tint down some urethane with the stain... – Brian Alderson Aug 19 '19 at 19:43
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    Sounds like they want paint instead of stain.... – Greg Nickoloff Oct 31 '19 at 19:39
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I suppose this answer is quite a bit too late for your customer, but I think what they were after is precisely what a glaze is for.

Typically you'd put down a clear coat to seal off the wood, then apply glaze and tool it to your desired depth. In this case I think something like Sherwood Van Dyke Brown would be a good choice. If you can't get it dark enough, put down another coat of glaze once it dries.

After that you can finish up with your clear coat.

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