Bought some gel stain and ...

In the second labor of Hercules, he was called on to slay the Hydra, a creature with many heads. Each time he sliced off a head, two quickly grew in its place.
I was somehow reminded of that as I opened the latest can of worms - uh -- stain.
I bought a can of General Finishes "Candelite" gel stain today. The fellow in the store went as far as to test it out on a piece of red oak (ply) for me. That's what I call customer service, so if you're ever in the Norwalk Ct. area, make sure to stop by the Woodworker's Club (a Woodcraft affiliate).
I took it home and applied it to some of the red oak leftovers from my current project, which - with the steady accumulation of test pieces - I am quickly running out of. The color going on was very much like I had hoped it would be, but became diluted when I wiped off the "excess" with a clean rag. Following Leon's advice, I had done so right after the application.
Perhaps, as the test piece was so small, I had wiped it too soon. I tried again, leaving a minute or two before wiping, and wiping a little less vigorously. That was better, I think, although I don't know if it might cause problems down the road.
Standing there with the can open and a head full of curiosity, I decided to apply some of the gel stain over a sample I had made with an oil-based stain (a week ago). That color, even after wiping off, looked very nice indeed.
Assuming it still looks nice when dry and with a couple of coats of varnish, and assuming I have it in me to add yet another step to the process, is that something that can be done? Gel stain over oil stain? Or is there disaster lurking down the road? (Bad adhesion, etc.)
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On 8/30/2014 2:25 PM, Greg Guarino wrote:

As long as they are both oil based stains, you like the look of the combination, and you let the first stain coat dry before applying the gel stain, you are good to go.
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On Saturday, August 30, 2014 3:18:01 PM UTC-5, Swingman wrote:

What Karl said.
To expand this a bit, when I was doing custom finishing and matching (remem ber when folks wanted to pay for that kind of thing?) I always had to use d ifferent methods and materials to get the look I wanted.
Someway, somewhere I had a client that had a piece of cabinetry he had buil d to match the style of his existing french walnut (real stuff, but veneer) book case. When you look at that type of walnut as opposed to our black w alnut, the colors and patterns can be quite complex.
His project was made from birch ply with birch edging. I used an oak oil s tain similar to "colonial oak" thinned to about 50%, applied and rubbed off immediately. Then added a brown coat of oil thinned as well, wiped off af ter checking my test piece several times to check color. Now it was lookin g good, but the tubular grain didn't show as it does in walnut. So over th e two coats of oil, a super fast wipe of thinned Old Masters Dark Walnut ge l to highlight the pores. It was a pretty good match, but nothing beats th e real thing. The important thing was the owner was hugely pleased and whe n finished with a foam brush top coat of poly he was completely happy. The addition of the poly brought enough amber to the mix that it matched my te st/submission piece and he never looked back.
Think of stains, gels, dyes, tints, and any other colorants as the componen ts to get the color and appearance you want. After drying, most colorants are compatible, but the higher VOC stuff will pull off (as per Karl's post) the previous coloring in some cases.
AND GOOD FOR YOU FOR PRACTICING ON YOUR SCRAP!!!!
Robert
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On 8/30/2014 2:25 PM, Greg Guarino wrote:

Be sure to thoroughly stir the stain. This particular brand sorta has a built in finish. If it is not properly stirred you may be melting it down again so to speak. But for what it is worth, how did it act at the store?
Now having said that I had the same issue with a Java color almost 4 years ago. I think it was old or they have changed the formula. If you are wiping and actually removing the stain color when going over a previously stained spot the stuff may be bad. Gel stains have always given me great results except fot that can 4 years ago.
Typically after the first coat of stain has thoroughly dried you can re apply for a darker finish. Also DON'T sand past 180, you don't want to burnish the surface such that the stain will not properly adhere.
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On 8/30/2014 3:41 PM, Leon wrote:

One last thing, I only wipe hard enough immediately after application to remove the excess and so that there are no blotches.
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On 8/30/2014 4:43 PM, Leon wrote:

He applied it to a tiny area with a q-tip and rubbed it in some. Looked OK, but he didn't wipe off.

It was wiping it down with a dry towel that removed some of the color.
Gel stains have always

I sanded to 180. The can, by the way, says don't sand past 150.

I wiped pretty hard, and pretty soon. A little later, and a little lighter touch seemed to work better. The two stains layered together produced the color I like the best. It's kind of a pain do an extra step though.
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On 8/30/2014 10:26 PM, Greg Guarino wrote:

FWIW I don't know of any wiping stain application that you do not wipe off the excess. As long as applying stain over an area that previously was stained and wiped down does not actually remove stain back down to almost bare wood. I was having that issue a few years ago.

Just wipe hard enough to remove the excess and blotches. The result should be consistent and even coverage. if you wipe quickly enough there is little effort involved. If you want darker, let it dry over night and repeat the procedure.

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Strange, how the topics (stains) are sometimes so right in time with what you are doing.
So, I partially made a bunk bed for my grandkids, back before I had my big accident, well over a year ago, now. I finally got the energy to slowly so the rest of the machining and put it together for finishing. It is made of picked over framing grade 2x4's, planed down and sanded, and I wanted it to match the color of the furniture in one of our bedrooms.
I had lost my color "sample sticks" sometime ago. I usually have a piece of red oak, poplar, maple, white pine, yellow pine, birch plywood, and basswood with a couple inches of each color of minwax stain on it, and clear coated with poly. That way, I have some idea of what I need to match whatever I am working on, or to show others so they can make a choice on stain colors. I made up a new one out of the pine the bed was made of, with my 15 or so most popular Minwax reference pints. None of them looked right.
So I started mixing, after a trip to the local big box for what I thought I was most likely to use. I picked red mahogany, mixed with red oak. Not quite right. Added in some Ipswich pine I had, and it got better. Still not quite right. (as tested on my cutoffs of the material the bed was made of) Added some English chestnut, then some golden oak, and I officially declared it to be garbage can stain! I don't even remember what all went in, so I was double sure to make enough that I would not run out, because there is no way I could have matched it!
None the less, testing it on the stock the piece is made of, with what will be used for the actual stain makes all of the difference.
It is coming together nicely for a semi temporary piece, and the boys are so excited to sleep in it the first time, the poly can't dry fast enough to suit them!
I'll try to get some pictures when it gets in its room. Not enough room in my small shop for a picture.
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Jim in NC


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