Color match walnut

Tom M

Well-known member
I made some walnut strips to cover chipped veneer on my grandparent's bedroom set that I've had for 30 years (25 of which my wife has been asking me to do this!)  I also refinished the top after attempting to remove some burn marks. Some were in the shellac, but others where down into the very thick walnut veneer.

I had some gold dust shellac and some light color shellac that I used a year or so ago - both were still good after testing on glass, and I just mixed them for the top - looked great.  But I used it all up, and when I made the 1/4" thick walnut strips to put at the bottom of the sides, I mixed up some golden kusmi (?) I had.  Similar color to the top.  My problem is when I put the side strips against the side they are much redder than the very brown sides.  I really didn't notice this on the top as it is a different plane.

Does anyone have a suggestion for getting the reddish hue to be more brown not that I've built up the shellac finish?


  • 2019-05-02 15.14.14 (Medium).jpg
    2019-05-02 15.14.14 (Medium).jpg
    142.3 KB · Views: 34

Mark Maleski

Well-known member

Well, my personal preference is for red hue on walnut, so if it were me I'd be thinking of how best to add that hue to the rest of the sides.  But that's not what you asked (plus it's either a vintage or antique piece, so maybe that's not the right choice)...

Assuming you have more of the kusmi, I'd lay some on a sample board and then experiment with layering green dye on top to see how it pulls back on the red hue. Green cancels out red. Even better if you can use some of the same walnut for the sample board.



Well-known member
Tom, The main problem with your repair is that the piece shown is not walnut. This is a depression era piece of furniture where the right vertical member (frame) is gum wood. The panel piece where you have placed your walnut strip is Birch plywood. In the 30s and 40s it was a common for manufacturers to use this combination to mimic walnut, mahogany and even cherry as the materials were less expensive. They frequently used the featured wood, in your case walnut on the top and drawer fronts and staining the sides to match using the woods mentioned. As to the color, Raw umber would be a good start.  Other colors you should have on hand is Van Dyke brown a deep blackish brown, black and a warmer orangish red tone such as burnt umber. these colors will help you achieve the color displayed. In wood finishing there really is never one color per se but thin layered colors. I have run a woodworking/ finishing shop for over 40 years and I have seen this type of furniture quite often. If you'd like further advice I'd be happy to help via email or phone. Good luck!  Ross