Wood stain colors can make or break the look of wood furniture, and choosing one is a big decision. Stain colors enhance the beauty of the wood grain pattern, they pull together the color tones of the room, and they transform the look of the wood. Working with solid wood furniture made in Amish country, we are well acquainted with wood stains and their effects on different wood types.
We’re often asked what the most popular stain colors are and which stains work best with which wood types. Both are reasonable questions to expect from makers of solid wood furniture, and the process of customizing furniture comes with wood and stain samples matched with expertise from an Amish furniture specialist. While choosing stain colors for wood furniture is specific to each person’s vision and preferences, we do have three popular wood stain colors that are used quite often. They are Michael’s Cherry, Asbury and Onyx wood stains.
Before we take a look at them, lets’ review why stain color and varnish are important to a piece of solid wood furniture.
Here at DutchCrafters, once the wood furniture is custom built in an Amish woodworking shop, it is moved to a local finish shop. Here it will be finished with a PCL stain, followed by a topcoat of catalyzed conversion varnish. The majority of stains they use for indoor furniture come from the PCL collection.
PCL stands for Preferred Color List. This list contains standardized stain colors for wood that Amish craftsmen have found work the best with a variety of wood types, complimenting the wood and bringing out the most natural beauty. Each wood type has its own unique characteristics and not every wood type looks best with all stain colors. That’s why not all PCL stains are offered on every wood type.
The Wood Furniture Finishing Process
Vital to bringing solid wood furniture to its optimum glory is the finishing process. It requires skill and expertise to apply stain properly. This ever-important finishing process in an Amish woodshop goes like this:
Sanding: All joints, corners and surfaces are sanded smooth, using sandpaper with elbow grease or sanding belts for large surfaces.
Stain application: Once sanding is completed, the stain color is applied. It’s important to note that stain applies the color to the wood—sometimes it can be confused with what comes next, which is the top coat of varnish. Woodworkers carefully spray on the stain, then use cloths to rub it in by hand. The wood absorbs a good amount of stain to bring out the grain pattern. The rest is wiped off.
Drying: Next, the stain is given time to dry, often overnight. Once it’s dry, woodworkers inspect it again to see if further sanding is needed.
Finish: The last step involves the finish, which is sometimes confused with the stain. The stain adds the color, whereas the finish is a topcoat of catalyzed conversion varnish that seals and protects the furniture. The finish is a clear coat of protection from scratches and heat.
Without further ado, here is is more information on the three popular Amish furniture stain colors for wood furniture: Michael’s cherry, Asbury brown and onyx.
Michael’s Cherry Stain
Michael’s cherry is just about the most popular stain color used for Amish wood furniture. It is more of a golden color, even though cherry makes us think of red shades.
- Brightens gold and red tones to enrich wood grain
- Looks beautiful on most wood types
- Used by all Amish finish shops
Asbury Brown Stain
Asbury brown is a popular medium brown color.
- Medium brown color tone
- Available in Light Asbury (a light brown with gold hues) or Asbury brown (a darker brown tone)
Onyx is one of the darkest stains offered.
- Deep, rich brown that may appear black depending on lighting
- Fits both traditional and modern design schemes
- Often used in two-tone finishes (with another finish)
- Nice choice for brown maple wood
While these are popular furniture wood stain colors, they are just a few of the many offered. When choosing a stain color, we highly recommend ordering stain samples to work with and enlisting the help of a furniture specialist. They can make sure to connect you to all the stain color options that would look best on your new wood furniture.
Which of these popular Amish furniture wood stain colors is your favorite?