I have been following the blotchy stain post with amusement. Before I went
pro I built furniture at home for many years. There were a few early
attempts at coloring wood, mostly bad. Even decent jobs detracted from the
craftsmanship (in my opinion) of the final piece. As my skills improved and
people no longer were just trying to be kind when I showed them new things I
built I found that Watco clear was my finish of choice. Some things like a
dining table or kitchen cabinets needed a hard finish but most of my work
was dome with oil.
When we went pro customers had different ideas and things had to be certain
colors and then we just used finishers. We were not good at spraying lacquer
I am now starting up a little shop in my garage and will go back to some
sort of clear oil. I choose the wood to match the look I want.
So, finally, the question, how many use stain on a regular basis and how
many avoid it??
Depends on the wood for me. With red and white oak, and most other lighter
color woods, I almost always use an oil based stain (with the exception of
cherry) ... with walnut, pecan, etc, almost never.
And occasionally I will stain certain parts of the primary wood of project
and not stain others. An example would be the drawer fronts, on a desk made
of white oak that has been lightly stained, will often look nice un-stained
so as to provide a subtle contrast after a top coat, like shellac, is
Many people who reject stain are glad to use oil, even though it produces a
color change as strong as many stains.
I am making a butternut cadenza and have tried 6 light stains on it to see
their effects, as well as just BLO, poly, and Danish oil. The BLO comes out
darker than 3 of the stains.
I'm strictly amateur. I use stain on things made from pine, probably 90% of
the time. I've only used stain on oak once. Nothing else has been or will
If a customer want purple, I'll make purple, but for my own use or gifts, I
just don't care to shade the natural wood. Just my opinion, but I'm sure
others will do different
There seem to be some that regard natural and unstained as somehow better or
more "purist" than stained but that's not realistic. Sometimes you need to
use stains and dyes to bring out the best in wood (as in bird's eye or curly
figuring). I'd say that there's no best approach. Colouring wood should be
regarded as simply a design decision.
I'd suggest that many woodworkers, while having mastered tools and
techniques in building pieces, have spent very little time developing and
refining their finishing methods. And yet a good finish is often all it
takes to transform a piece from looking garage-built into something much
I agree with your assessment. I am not looking down at stained pieces, as it
can greatly improve the final look. I just enjoy using different woods for
what they are.
Work for clients usually means sending it to the finisher as our attempts at
learning to spray water base lacquer ended in disaster. Brushing did not
look good either.
Finishing products are a lot better now and I will probably learn to do it
myself since I can no longer afford to pay for it.
Oil, Oil, and then Oil (mostly Tung or Danish)
If the wood needs some color shift (for example I had to shift some
maple aprons from yellowish to slightly pink to compliment the color
of the top) then aniline dyes. I prefer not covering the wood with
Cover coat protection depends on application but I prefer just wax.
Working only for myself and for take-or-leave sale now, so I don't bother
with stains. Kids at school stained a lot of things, of course, but I'm
happy that blot is in the past.
Finish per planned use.
Like Patrick it depends on the wood. Unlike Patrick, as of now, I am an
irregular stainer. Use to stain often but now prefer the more natural look
of the various woods. Also to be truthful, finishing is my least favorite
part of wood working and sometimes my attempts at staining came out looking
I regularly stain poplar, but these days I avoid poplar, so it's sort of
I'm contemplating staining walnut walnut colored on my next project though.
KD walnut can be a nice rich brown, but it's often not. The lighter
colored, almost purplish walnut is much easier to come by locally. Shellac
helps walnut it up a bit, but it still isn't quite as rich and dark as I'd
like. I might try orange shellac and see how that gets me. If not, I
might actually stain walnut walnut colored. Larry Jacques just had a
I'm back from seeing the wizard, BTW. Sort of.
All of the above is moot until I manage to go buy some walnut anyway. I
have a project on the books, but I always find too many other things to
spend on before I make the trek to ye olde woode emporiume. It's also
getting cold out there. Last year I was out in the shop in spite of the
cold, but this year.... I dunno.
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < firstname.lastname@example.org>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
I was working through the aneurism, thanks. And thanks for reminding
Silvie that my name is C-less. If I had a nickel for every time
someone misspelled my name, even AFTER I spell it for them on the
Strong like ox, smart like tractor.
That was when I lived in LoCal. The San Andreas Fault ran about 30
miles inland from me. But I now live in the Cascade Range, so I have
new faults all around me. Hey, Southern California earthquakes were
something to live for just to watch people FREAK when they hit. I was
always happy to get the free E-ticket ride, too.
Gunner will have to take over for me as Fault Watch Captain. I believe
he's close, too.
P.S: What difference would a fault line make to a nickel fortune?
It'd be turned into paper in an instant by the banks.
Strong like ox, smart like tractor.
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