I got some basic pine bedside tables recently and proceeded to use some
Ronseal Interior/Exterior woodstain to try and get it to match other
furniture we have and to protect it from water damage (the stain also has a
varnish in it and can be used for external doors apparently). We're very
pleased with the result - however, because it was a liquid stain it would
run down to the lowest point and gather. This meant we had to keep brushing
it around to get it to an amount which didn't run. The result is good and
we're pleased. Because we didn't want to make the job bigger than we
needed, we didn't sand it down afterwards and stuck with the single coat, so
the wood is a little 'textured' (but not rough like when I've used varnish
on pine before which has required frequent rubbing down between coats due to
the raising and then setting of the grain). No problem with this result for
I've often wondered how furniture gets the surface treatment it does during
manufacture. For example, flat pack wardrobe/drawers etc from MFI all have
a nice coloured finish which when viewed on end-grain cutoffs (for little
shelves in wardrobe) can see its soaked a good 1 or 2mm into the wood.
These bits of wood are perfectly smooth without any of the 'texturing' I've
got with ours.
This raises the question - how do they do large bulk colouring/finishing of
pine which will penetrate well (not just a shallow/skin treatment) and also
doesn't raise the grain? They can't be sanding everything down after
treating can they? Wax? Surely waxing is a high labour thing - and this
appears to be 100% uniform covering - no signs of differing colours or
Most timber / furniture manufacturers dip the wood in the stain / varnish
systems and then fast dry them in kilns, so the wood doesn't really get a
chance to get dirty or scratched before the finish is properly cured. If
you can afford a bath full of stain and the large kiln to put the timber in
and dry it off, then I think you'll get a lot of local business from smaller
AFAIK spraying is still the norm. Some lacquers go off as soon as they hit
the wood so there is no delay on the production line, and actually very
little penetration into the face of the timber (end grain is different).
This gives the uniformity you expect from MFI and Ikea, but then there's a
cottage industry trying to get away from the bland look on pine, either
because they don't have the facilities, or their customers prefer a hand
finish. Wax is the natural choice because, although very labour intensive,
any fool can do it. Most manufacturers will tell you that making the
furniture is the easy bit. Finishing it in area devoid of sawdust is the
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