No matter how hard you try to make something new match something old, it doesn’t always work. Sometimes, the best way to match things is just to wait.
Earlier this summer I added a new drawer to my wife’s old oak desk. Since her new PC is an all-in-one model, the space where the old computer tower had been was perfect for a drawer. The grain match on the drawer front wasn’t quite right, but when viewed as a whole unit it doesn’t really stand out at all. The color of that drawer, however, is another story.
It’s all the same species, with the same stain and the same topcoat, but it couldn’t possibly look more different. I even matched the oak I used to an unfinished portion underneath the desk and it was a good match color-wise then, but not when it was all done.
The issue wasn’t the wood or materials I used, it was time. I don’t remember exactly when I made that desk for her, but it was at least 20 years ago. In that time it’s been exposed to two decades of sunlight, seasonal humidity changes and aging of the topcoat. Over the years, it darkened.
Now, I could have played around with stains to make that drawer an exact match. But what happens after a few years? That same aging and light-exposure issue will alter that drawer front, and while it might match now after all that mixing of the perfect stain, it certainly won’t a decade from now.
Instead, I opted to just let time do its thing. Yeah, it doesn’t match now, but I’m betting that in a few years you won’t be able to tell the drawer wasn’t an original part of the desk.