Those who use the ubiquitous Minwax oil-based pigmented stains might
find this an interesting observation. Like most beginning
woodworkers, I used Minwax stains because they were easily available.
But I was never very happy with the end results - the horrible end
grain absorbtion characteristics, the heavy deposits of pigment in
open wood pores, and the inconsistent coloration. And that smell...
I had to throw a quick finish on a poplar piece yesterday, and after
testing numerous variations of color and mixtures of Minwax on test
scraps, decided it was time for something new. I tried a new (to me)
product manufactured by Olympic. I used Early American Olympic
oil-based stain on a poplar piece, and am quite pleased with the
results. The formula is low odor, easy to apply, has plenty of
forgiveness in application timing, doesn't muddy end-grain severely,
and cleans up easily. It is probably the best looking non-natural
finish I have seen on pine and poplar that wasn't dye based. I don't
know the particulars of the stain's chemistry, nor it's long term
resistance to UV fading, but being a pigmented stain, it has to be
better than dye.
This is my experience, your's could vary. I am not connected with
Olympic in any way, just passing along my hands-on experience for your