Stain samples

So I've been trying to figure out how the heck to get the same colors as the stain samples you see at Home Depot. I put my stain on for 15 minutes and then rubbed off as the directions stated. The result was a light color (this is on pine) and not dark like the sample at the store. Perplexed I went to the Net for info. I read a few places that you'll never get your project as dark as the samples at the store. Now the samples at the store aren't printed on paper, they're stained on pine and oak. So I asked the question to myself, "Well the samples at the store are the stain on pine. I have pine. Why is their pine different than mine?"
After many moons of messing around and then reading Bob Flexner's book I guess you don't have to put on stain and then rub it off after 15 minutes, you can just leave it on? Has anyone ever done this? I guess the best method for this would be to use a paint gun?
I'm trying to match a dining room set I have. You can't really tell the wood pattern through the stain. It looks like it was heavily stained in red mahogany and then glazed with black or very dark brown (it's in the recesses of the wood). It's the typical color you see when you see Asian furniture - that kinda brownish reddish solid color.
Sam
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As a matter of fact I found some Zar at my local hardware store and thought I'd give them a try. So far it looks great on a 8"X6" scrap and gets darker as I apply more of it.

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Tip on staining pine when trying to match an existing piece: Do not sand with paper finer than 100 grit. Keep the grain as open as possible.
Jums Keeper of the namesake!
:-)

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Thanks for the tip. I was sanding with 240 but have since moved down to 120 per the Zars instructuction. I'm going to try 100 and see the results.
Sam

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Yes, how you prepare the wood has a big impact on color. Major reason why they can be so hard to repair. Sand too fine and the stain won't penetrate. Most of these stains are meant to penetrate, not lay on the surface. This is why multiple coats do little except cause adhesion problems with finish.
For greater penetration, wipe the piece(try a sample) with a wet cloth. Pops the grain open. Pine is a little different than hardwoods but I have a box stained white from 15 years ago that is as white as any hardwood would get.
M Hamlin

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