I have weathered white oak chairs, and I wonder if you can suggest how I can obtain the [same] finish on poplar or pine or other wood as I am going to build a table [for the set]. I want to try to keep the cost down but would like to come as close as possible. If I have to make the table out of white oak, how would I obtain that finish? – Bob
Chris Marshall: A sun-bleached wood color is going to be challenging to duplicate on brand-new wood, Bob. And, if you make your table from pine or poplar, their grain patterns won’t match the white oak wood grain of the chairs. So, I’m going to suggest a two-part solution here: start by making the table out of white oak. Don’t mix species. That way, its wood grain will harmonize with the chairs so all the pieces will come as close as possible to looking like they’re an original set. White oak is also a good choice in terms of its durability for exterior furniture — and that’s proven itself to you already.
Then, I’d choose a stain color for BOTH the table and the chairs. Staining all the pieces will get the chairs and the table in the same ballpark, color-wise. If you really like that bleached look, keep the stain color light, and test it on an inconspicuous area of one of the chairs as well as on a scrap piece of white oak from your table project. You’ll get a good idea of how well the woods will match that way without jumping in too far. It may be that your table will require two coats of stain to achieve a slightly darker color that will better match the chairs’ weathered patina. Most importantly here, keep your expectations realistic–the color of the new table will not match the color of the old chairs exactly. Only a same-vintage white oak table left in the sun for the same amount of time as those chairs would do that. But, by staining the new table the same color as the old chairs, I think your end result will still be pleasing to the eye and a convincing solution. Good luck with your finishing project!