First, let me say, that I am a complete newbie. My husband and I spent all
summer building a bar (pine). Then we stained (using Minwax Gel Stain). A
bit blotchy on the pine, but nothing I can't live with. The real problem,
however, is wherever we applied the Minwax Stainable Wood Filler in a joint,
over a nail, etc., the stain did not take. It stands out like a sore thumb!
The entire project is now ruined, where we have nickle sized white blobs
everywhere there is a nail. I had sanded this down, yet it seems wherever
the stain filler touched the wood, it will forever repel the stain.
I have not Polyed yet. Is there anything I can do to save my project?
Thanks in advance.
quick couple of questions that might help everyone answer your question a
Did you sand the wood filler down before applying the stain? If so with what
Why use the Gel Stain as opposed to the regular stain?
Did you apply a coat of wood conditioner or "seal coat" before staining?
Because I liked the "no drip" aspect of it. This had a lot of verical
surface that needed to be stained, and I thought that the gel would go on
easier. Plus, I liked the color I selected (brazillian rosewood) better than
any of the non-gel alternatives
No, and I am really kicking myself for it. The guy at Home Depot told me
that it wasn't really necessary. Like I said, I'm a total newbie and the
fact that we were able to build anything is a minor miracle. It just seems
that the staining aspect should be easier :(
Hehehe... I have a theory about "the guy at Home Depot"- If he knew
what he was talking about, he'd probably have a better job than
stocker at a hardware store! :) Got bit by that line more than once
when I let a client pick up materials from the store so I could keep
working. "But the guy at Home Depot said that this new spray-on crack
fixer works just as good as drywall tape", etc. Don't listen to that
guy unless he is obviously too old to be out swinging a hammer- in
that case, he could be a retired contractor, and actually know
Being newbie and all, we'll try to be kind.
Here's where you went wrong:
1. Nails... they have no place in structural joinery of cabinets. If you
can't use classic joinery (glued rabbets, dados, dovetails, mortise and
tennon), then I would look to screws. Finish nails to hold on molding is
ok, but still something to be avoided.
2. Wood filler: as you found, they lie. Glue and sawdust will never stain
like wood, ever! If you must fill tiny holes for finish nails. Do so after
initial finishing but before the last coat using a tinited wood filler, and
then you have a prayer of color-matching. That still is an accident waiting
to happen as many woods will change color with age and exposure to UV making
a perfect match not so perfect over time. Wood filler is meant to be
3. Wood filler is not joint compound. It does not work and adhere like joint
compound. It's a bit brittle and may chip off if a thin uncontained section
is bumped. The reference to nickel sizes leads me to believe that you may
have dimpled the surface with the hammer and filled the dimple like sheet
rock screw on dry wall. This is particularly bad.
A few ideas:
2. Laminate: A thin layer of something (veneer, formica, cabinet-grade
plywood) over some or all of the surfaces.
3. Patch: Dutchmen or plugs. These could actually look like a nice feature
if designed in from the begining. If your nails are not unevenly spaced it
becomes less attractive.
Well, don't say ruined yet but it sounds like you have work to do. I am,
however, surprised at your reference to "nickle sized white blobs" That
sounds awfully large for a nail fill.
Stainable fillers don't stain. Minwax and others lie. The best approach is
keep filler use to a minimum. Filler over finish nail holes should be done
after staining with a matching filler or filler stick. Joint filling is just
bad practice that can be solved with more careful construction. However,
this too might be fixed with filler stained while wet to the color of your
project. In any case, you are going to have to remove the filler and
replace with matching filler.
You might be able to clean out the nail holes with a drill bit that is about
the same size as the nail hole (just touch the filler with the drill on low
speed). Joint filling might pop out with use of a sharpened putty knife.
Slow and tedious.
Pine, like a lot of soft woods, does take on a blotchy appearance when
stained. This can be overcome by applying a pre stain conditiner.
If you just can't get there sand it down very smoothly and paint. Don't be
discouraged. This is the way we all learn of woodology.
I think that maybe I did a bad job explaining the "blob". We actually used a
nail gun, so this is not from a hammer head. It is totally smooth when
compared to the rest of the surface. What is consistant about these areas is
that I had applied the wood filler here. I have a feeling that I did it
wrong - I applied it with a putty knife and scraped it away. There was no
filler remaining on the surface, and if there was, it should have been
sanded away. To describe it better, I've posted a photo here:
you will see that the actual finishing nail did take the stain, but there
are blobs around there that simply did not. Please be advised, my lighting
is really bad here, so the stain job looks much blotchier than it actually
is. However, the white dots look pretty accurate.
I appreciate all the feedback. Worst case, it's sitting in my basement where
its dark, and most of these marks are behind the bar, where others won't see
it. But it'll take longer for me to get over it :(
Aha. Use a small brush and fill in those areas with the stain. Don't
wipe it off, and just let it dry. You can sand it later with 600 grit
if it has drip marks. It won't be awesome, but it should even out the
color a bit. I'll tell you flat out that this is not the *right* way
to fix that, but it's probably your best option judging from the
picture. As an aside, I've usually used the Elmer's wood filler, and
it has never done that- perhaps you should toss that stuff you bought!
And if sitting extra stain on these spots doesn't do it, use acrylic paints
and fake in your own grain. When the acrylics dry they may have a
different shine than the rest of the wood, just wipe that whole surface
with poly water based varnish and a rag.
By whole surface, I don't mean the whole structure but just the single edge
surface where the boo-boos are.
Your work looks solid, fix up these minor things and enjoy!
The picture really helps.
To me, it appears that the Glue component of the filler soaked into the
surrounding wood, sealing it and preventing penetration of the stain.
I agree with others. You need to (I use this term loosely) touch-up paint
just those spots. Trial and error will get you there. Start with the stain
itself and see if that works. If the stain is mostly pigment an not so mych
dye, I think you have a better chance. (simplified:dye is a translucent
colorant, pigment is an opaque particulate in suspension, most over the
counter cans of "stain" are some combination )
If that does not work, move on to artists paints and mix until it matches.
Cover with poly.
I like the idea of putting in contrasting plugs. Consider ways to
turn the defect into a design.
Don't feel bad - I was fooled by "stainable filler" too on my first
project. I suppose they're right - it does stain, just not like any
other part of the piece.
<<Don't feel bad - I was fooled by "stainable filler" too on my first
project. I suppose they're right - it does stain, just not like any
other part of the piece.>>
So I'm guessing this new Elmer's Stainable Wood Glue (with real wood fibers)
I'm hearing advertised probably isn't really stainable either, huh?
To e-mail, replace "bucketofspam" with "dleegordon"
If I worked all summer on a project, I would definitely try to rescue
it. It would be worth the investment in time & money.
It will never look great by trying to sand/re-stain etc, so forget that
(unless you want to try a really dark stain/poly combo with multiple
finishes or simply paint it).
If you want the stain look, I would use what you have built so far as a
base to which I would laminate something - maybe like oak veneer. Maybe
even beadboard or something like that.
When I really mess up and get frustrated, it helps me to not touch it
for a week or so until I think about it. Major mistakes can sometimes
be put into better perspective and you would be surprised how often
some solution will come to mind.
Also, consider this a learning experience for your next project - I
have one with just about everything I build, but in a way, that is the
fun of woodworking - trying to overcome new challenges. Otherwise, it's
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