I saw a varathane ad for stain. They say that you must use 6 coats of their
competitors' stain, but only 3 of theirs to obtain a proper finish.
I use one coat. In fact, the one time I was too light and tried a second
coat it, didn't seem to do much of anything; I had to sand and go with a
Am I missing something, or is varathane crazy?
Maybe both? I don't like stain at all for most projects - there's so
much natural beauty in the color and grain of many hardwoods - why
would you want to obscure that with stain?
The times I have used stain, however, (before I really came to
appreciate wood on its own), you're right: one coat has been plenty.
If you do it right with those types of stains, once the binder of the
first coat seals the surface additional stain doesn't do much except
wipe off the pigment from the previous coat.
The only time I've seen additional stain coats make a huge difference is
when I use "pro" stains, like Mowhawk, Behlen, or M.L. Campbell, with
barrier coats in between to lock the pigments in place.
If the first 'coat' of stain is properly applied subsequent
applications should do nothing.
According to Bob Flexnor, author of _Understanding Wood Finishes_
the proper way to apply stain is to wipe it all over the wood and
then wipe off all the excess, wiping in the direction of the grain.
This should fill the pores with the pigment. Consequently if
you apply stain again, it should all wipe off as the pores
were already filled.
Since that is the way Mr Flexnor does it, any other way
is wrong. At least, that is what one garners from his
Multiple applications of a film finish, can have a cumulative
effect, this is called toning.
You can also dyes before staining the wood and the
dye and stain will each have an effect. Dyes soak into
the wood fibers and color them, stains contain finely
divided solid pigments.
_Understanding Wood Finishes_ is an excellent book
and Mr Flexnor is an excellent teacher. He is also
strongly opinionated and not prone to waste time
or words equivocating. That is to say, he is not
Yes, it is typical of toning to apply a very clear, tough topcoat,
such as one that can be buffed to the desired sheen. Mr Flexner,
refers to that final step as 'finishing the finish'.
He may put six or seven finishes on a single piece, each one
different. E.g. a dye, a grain filler, a stain. a sealer, a couple
of toning coats, a glaze, and a topcoat.
Often I would prefer the look of a simple a oil finish or just
rubbed shellac to his work, but I'm not his customer. It
probably takes him less time to put those seven finishes
on the piece, and finish the finish, than it would take me
to put on a couple of coats of tung oil.
He really doesn't care for oil finishes, partly, I suspect,
because they're too easy. He likes finishing.
On 9 Dec 2006 10:57:54 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
A good musician knows many songs. <G>
In the commercial realm, most non-woodworkers expect a finish to
provide at least minimal protection. Oil's pretty weak, protection
I use oil finishes, but I also know how to dye and pigment stain, rub
out varnish, shellac, and lacquer, French polish, and spray, as well
Some of my finishes include oil, shellac, _and_ a lacquer or varnish
top coat, but no stain. It all comes down to the preference for a
film, and customer education and preference.
You mention "to obtain Proper Finish". Stains are not a finish by
That said many manufacturers add a stain to their varnish and that may very
well require multiple coats as do most any varnish finishes. Minwax come so
Maybe they are learning something from the shampoo manufactures. The last
time I read the directions on a bottle of shampoo it said I should wash my
hair twice???? I am confident this was a ploy to sell more shampoo. Hell I'm
too lazy to wash my hair twice let alone apply stain 6 times. he he he.
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