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?
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.