More about Gel Stain

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I bought a can of General Finishes "Candelite" Gel Stain. There was a sample, on oak, in the store. I'm using red oak.
I applied the stain to a test piece. The color - BEFORE wiping off the "excess" - looked something like the sample, as I remember it anyway. (the can has a small "artist's rendering of the color) After wiping? Well, that was quite different. "Washed out" is the best way to describe it.
I made another test, rubbing MORE with the application rag, waiting a little longer (maybe a minute and a half), and then wiping off GENTLY. This produced somewhat more color, but still nothing like what was advertised.
I have come to understand that the Gel "Stain" and Gel "Topcoat" are actually the same substance; different only in that one has colorant and the other does not. I decided to try another coat of Gel Stain. (I waited a couple of days in-between)
The result? More color, but still not like the sample. I tried a third coat. With the third coat, it is beginning to look like the sample color. Is this what their "sample" is supposed to represent, the color after several coats?
More importantly, if the "stain" and "topcoat" are both some sort of poly varnish, does this mean that coats of stain "count" as coats of varnish? Meaning, if 4 coats of gel varnish were recommended for good protection, could I do 2 of stain and 2 of topcoat for example? Or even 3 stain and 1 topcoat? Or is there a certain minimum number of clear coats needed, say two?
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On 9/9/2014 7:15 PM, Greg Guarino wrote:

What was the final grit used when sanding?
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On 9/9/2014 8:41 PM, Swingman wrote:

pretty sure I sanded the sample pieces to 180, the same grit I sanded to on the project parts.
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On 9/9/2014 7:15 PM, Greg Guarino wrote:

Generally speaking all stains should be thoroughly wiped off when apply by brush or rag. If you want darker let the coats thoroughly dry, preferably over night. BE SURE TO THOROUGHLY STIR before using.
AND as Swingman commented the final sanding grit will be important as to how dark the stain ends up. The finer the sanding grit the less the stain will darken. I never go past 180 when staining. Test a piece with a coarser grit for the final sanding.

No not the same but many gel stains do have a bit of finish/varnish. Gel varnishes will protect the stain finish.

I have found that General Finishes colors are not created equally. I have used darker General Finishes gel stains that ended up lighter than lighter colors of the same product.
Again be sure to thoroughly mix the gel stain, if it is liquidly on top it is not likely to cover as advertised.

No
Meaning, if 4 coats of gel varnish were recommended for good

You want to protect the stain finish, doing so will also naturally protect the wood. The Gel varnish is going to give the surface a more protected finish but mostly will give a consistent sheen to the surface. Most gel varnishes go on so thinly that you probably will never get the same thickness of protection as you will with a liquid varnish. Basically gel varnishes protect against something staining the finish if caught quickly enough and NOT from maring or scratching through to the wood. You still need to take care of what you built.
One last thing, air circulation can be a determent to applying many stains or varnishes, especially gel varnishes. If the varnish or stain is drying too fast, before wiping off the excess, turn off the fan if working with one. Otherwise work smaller areas.

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On 9/10/2014 1:23 AM, Leon wrote:

I didn't do this. It seemed like a "gel" on top, not "liquidy", but I guess it's worth stirring it to see if it makes a difference.
It looks like I can get a color I like with 3 coats of stain, but I'd be much happier with fewer steps, especially as the project has lots of nooks and crannies.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/gdguarino/14345718026/in/set-72157644207411490
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On 9/10/2014 8:30 AM, Greg Guarino wrote:

Yeah have fun with that. ;~) Hind sight, you have a bunch of dowels holding this together, I would have stained everything before glue up. With all the dowels I would not worry about stain and or the finish getting on contact glue surfaces. I would have varnished the inner pieces too before glue up. Generally speaking I try to stain and varnish any pieces with inside corners and or those that would be difficult to get to before assembly.
Keep us posted with pics.!

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On 9/10/2014 12:45 PM, Leon wrote:
Let me add a comma... ;~)
Generally speaking I try to stain and varnish any pieces with inside corners and or those that would be difficult to get to, before assembly.

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On 9/10/2014 1:56 PM, Leon wrote:

Me too. I like that I don't have to worry too much about glue squeeze-out. But this time I decided it would be too much trouble to mask all of the joint surfaces. That was *before* I was advised that the glue on the dowels would be strong enough by itself.
Live and learn.
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On 9/10/2014 2:18 PM, Greg Guarino wrote:

"ladders". I have masked the glue-joint areas for the remaining pieces in preparation for prefinishing them, should I ever settle on a method, that is.
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On 9/10/2014 1:18 PM, Greg Guarino wrote:

And as you become more experienced you have less and less squeeze out. You are doing great Greg! Keep up the good work. ;~)

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On Wednesday, September 10, 2014 12:23:07 AM UTC-5, Leon wrote:

That is something most folks don't do, and that is to stir the gel stains b efore using. I found that one out the hard way when using a dark color tha t started out looking like chocolate pudding in the can, then gradually wen t to a dark chocolate candy bar color. Usually I only have to screw myself once and I am "good to go" after that, and in this case I never forgot all the extra work that caused me.
As far as gel stains having any protective elements in them, maybe some do. I use Old Master's gels exclusively as they are very consistent and predi ctable, and they are the only gels I could use successfully when staining f iberglass entry doors. Nothing else on the market (this was a few years ag o) would penetrate the gel coat surface and hold on when finishing. The Ol d Master's rep (remember when we had factory trained experts?) told me that it was due to the actual size of their coloring particulates and resin mat rix used to suspend the particles. I asked it was some kind of protective coating due to its plastic feel when dry, and he gave and adamant NO. Appa rently some had mistaken their newly wiped coloring for being a colored or tinted finishing product and there had been quite a stir over that.
Keep in mind I am only referencing Old Master's gel stain.

Personally, I look at wipe on varnishes and poly as "adult" finishes. I lik e the thin finish they leave that shows off the wood itself much more than a nice thick coat of some clear coat that is designed to protect against su n, water/liquids, chemicals and detergents, and the abrasion of everyday us e. They are great for bookcases, adult furniture, a low use table like a l amp table, a hutch or buffet, etc. It does not stand up to family use, bac helor use, etc., as it has little water resistance, almost no chemical resi stance, little abrasion resistance, and >>ZERO<< ultra violet ray resistanc e.
When I was more involved with the woodworking community here in town, I tri ed to help the guys understand when to use and when not to use gel top coat s. I had a difficult time as they all loved the ease of application that d idn't require any cleanup, or shop prep to keep the dust down. Who doesn't ?
But they were addicted to Watco. Our local Woodcraft was their enabler on that. The prescribed Watco for everything from jewelry boxes (good!) to ta ble tops (not so much...) and gleefully grabbed a can whenever asked for a recommendation. They weren't that happy when they saw what a spill of oran ge juice, with all its acidic glory did to the top of they were distracted and didn't get it cleaned up immediately.
Three good coats of Watch properly applied will give you about 1/2 to 3/4 o f one millimeter of final dried finish. Finish manufacturers and applicato rs accept the industry standard on a horizontal surface to be 2 to 3 millim eters! I know that is what I shoot for, and that is why it takes two coats brushed or padded, and then maybe three when sprayed to get to 3mm. This is why when learning proper spray and technique you learn to use this:
http://www.binks.com/resources/tip-of-the-week/why-should-i-use-a-wet-film- thickness-gauge
However, it also translates well to hand applied finishes (except gels, whi ch are too thin to accurately measure). These are cheap to buy and provide an excellent way to ensure that you are applying enough material to a surf ace to follow the manufacturer's recommendations. Since a lot of folks don 't know how much to apply, much less how much they are applying, I always r ecommended to the guys learning good finishing techniques to use these so t hey could recognize different thicknesses of coats. A nice tutorial on how to use the gauge:
http://www.geionline.com/wet-film-gauge
As always, just my 0.02.
Robert
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FWIW, stain isn't supposed to "coat", it is supposed to stain; i.e, be absorbed (superficially) into the wood...inevitably, it also catches into any surface imperfections be they wood grain or scratches. All of which means that the rougher the surface the darker the color.
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Robert, something does not compute. There are 25.4mm in an inch. Three millimeters wul be a knat's whisker less than 1/8". Maybe you meant mils?
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On Wednesday, September 10, 2014 6:23:27 PM UTC-5, dadiOH wrote:

YES! That is exactly what I meant, but somewhere between brain and fingers there was a disconnect.
Thanks for he correction!
Robert
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On 9/10/2014 7:23 PM, dadiOH wrote:

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I suggest checking out Charles Neill's blotch control ...
https://charlesneilwoodworking.3dcartstores.com/Charles-Neils-Pre-Color-Conditioner--Blotch-Control_p_47.html
It also allows you to apply a dye or stain strongly and evenly.
Google this product and see all the positive reviews.
I have no financial interest ,,,blah,blah,blah.
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I dig...sort of like "wul" for would and "knat" for gnat. Typing is not my long suite. :(
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And "suite" for "suit"? :)
[Sorry, couldn't resist.]
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wrote:

Stupid bloody keys...:(
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On Thursday, September 11, 2014 12:41:12 PM UTC-5, dadiOH wrote:

AHAH! I knew all along it wasn't us! ;^)
Robert
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