I have a restored cabinet that I’d like to stain. The top and sides are original (about 200 years old), but the doors and front and bottom pieces were replaced about 45 years ago. I have removed the paint from the entire cabinet. The newer pieces are probably pine or another soft wood. I really don’t know what the original wood is. I’d love to stain it to maintain the original character of the piece, but I know that the new wood will not look the same. Any suggestions, or should I just paint it?
It's really up to you… Staining (and then Varnishing) will allow the wood grain to show thru, and even with different wood it will look acceptable (use an Oil Stain applied properly, then wait over night then Varnish with a Satin Finish Clear Varnish)…
OR Paint the piece, but prime it first with an Oil Primer-Stain Sealer, then finish coat with either Oil or Acrylic… Good Luck!
Alternatively you can Antique It… which is still a Painting application (apply a solid color base coat after priming, then finish with a glaze coat creating grain, by using special applicator tools… steel wool, brush, etc.)