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How to make pine look like oak

Updated February 21, 2017

It is a common mistake for nonexperts to believe that the colour of wood cabinets, furniture and other items can tell them definitively the type of wood from which those objects are made. In some cases this may be true, and it would be unfair to say that you can never judge wood by its cover. However, using the colour of an expensive wood on a more inexpensive variety is a common and cost-conscious way to achieve the look you want. Use a golden oak stain to disguise your pine.

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  1. Remove any hardware from your wooden pieces, such handles and hinges. Lay out any doors or drawer fronts on a flat surface. Line the insides of cabinets or drawers with taped-down newspaper.

  2. Use trisodium phosphate cleanser to clean the wood. Apply it to a cloth, and rub the cloth over all of the wooden surfaces. Change to a fresh cloth, dampen it slightly and rub down the wood to remove all of the cleanser residue.

  3. Allow the wood to dry completely. Sand the wood evenly all over with 150-grit sandpaper. If the pine has an existing shellac, be sure to sand it all off.

  4. Wipe down the wood with a clean rag to remove the sanding dust. Clean and vacuum the area so that no dust remains in the air to settle on your wood as it dries. Apply a deglossing product over all of the wood surfaces, using a clean rag.

  5. Let the wood sit for an hour. Dip a white china brush into the golden oak gel stain and paint it onto the surface of the wood, following the grain. Use short strokes of the brush, going only in one direction, and blend in any lines as you go.

  6. Let the stain rest for approximately three minutes. Gently pat the stained wooden surfaces with a white cloth to absorb any extra stain. Allow the stain to dry for 24 hours.

  7. Add more stain, if you wish, to create a darker oak colour. Let the final coat of stain dry for another 24 hours, and then apply two layers of clear polyurethane varnish. Allow the varnish to dry for two days and reinstall any hardware, drawer fronts or doors that you removed.

  8. Warning

    If your pine items have a very knotty appearance, it will be almost impossible to make them look exactly like oak, as the grains of the two woods are too dissimilar.

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Things You'll Need

  • Masking tape
  • Newspaper
  • Trisodium phosphate cleanser
  • Cloths
  • 150-grit sandpaper
  • Vacuum
  • Deglossing product
  • White china brush
  • Golden oak gel stain
  • Clear polyurethane varnish

About the Author

Jourdan Townsend has been writing since childhood. Her articles appear in a collection of student works at the University of Oklahoma as well as in the school's "Honors College Journal." Townsend also composes poetry, some of which can be found in an edition of the "Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans." Townsend holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication.

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