I'm building a pair of valances/shelves which need to be stained to match
nearby stained pine and they want to use pine for this also.
I plan on using an oil based Gel stain from General Finishes
However, when making a couple color samples at a local store, the guy
the wood first, then wiped on the stain. It still turned out a bit splochy.
I know about raising the grain by dampening the wood, but, not sure how it's
to help in this case.
Is it best just apply it to dry bare wood?
Seal it first with a sanding sealer of some sort?
The Zinnseer stuff I have says it can be used under any CLEAR finish..
So not sure it thats the answer or not.
I plan on doing some experimenting tomorrow, but, was just looking for some
on how to reduce the slochyness, if possible.
I just built a pine bookshelf. I applied a pre-finish, then stained.
B/c the pre-finish is clear, I missed a few spots without knowing it,
and got some splotchiness. If you're doing it just for yourself, then
you'll probably be the only one to notice it. I used oil-based stain
Always use a pre-stain on soft woods. If you don't, the splotchiness
will be worse.
Another solution -- use a clear coat. I did that for a sword/shield for
my son and it turned out great.
Pine (or spf) is simply a difficult wood to stain. What would be cool
is if someone could figure out a way to give pine that 30 yr old aged
look in 20 minutes. Aged, clearfinished, natural pine is an exeedingly
beautiful wood, in my opinion.
As far as I know, most commercially "stained" and finished pine has a
sprayed on laquer finish. That is, it's not really stained... it's
more or less spray painted with a tinted coating for color.
Finishing is not my strong suit though. Feel free to correct me.
He may have "dampened" it with an oil based pretreat. You would only use water
if you were going to use a water based stain.
The only success I have had with pine is to first apply either a clear stain,
dewaxed shellac or some topcoat to first seal it and then the stain followed by
the top coat. JG
I normally apply a sealer such as Minwax Pre-Stain Conditioner to minimize
variations in the stain. It helps if the piece is sanded as smooth as you
are willing to achieve. 320 grit or higher. The smoother the piece, the
less the "splotches", especially with end grain.
So if you are using pine, you will have to accept some degree of "splotches"
unless you want to apply a spray coat which contains the tint. This is what
commerical furniture does. I do not like the look, and in corners or where
the coat accumulates, the tinting will be darker. Also if you have to apply
a second coat, use clear coat only, otherwise the result will tend to hide
We built all of our cabinets (kitchen, laundry, bath, etc.) out of pine.
I sanded with 100 grit paper, then followed up with 150 grit.
I wiped on a coat of Min-Wax Prestain Conditioner. Didn't have to be fancy,
I just slathered it on with paper towels. According to the can, you should
stain within 15 minutes of applying the conditioner.
Then we wiped on a coat of Min-Wax "Windsor Oak" Gel stain, using a stain
applicator pad (sponge covered with a terry cloth).
Finally, we applied a coat of Olympic oil based satin poly, sanded lightly
with 220 grit, and applied a second coat of poly.
All of our pine cabinets turned out great. A nice mellow color with no
We also had pine doors in our house, but after a few tests we decided on
Zinzer amber shellac. It was easier than trying to get stain into all the
nooks and crannies of the door panels. The first coat was applied straight
from the can. Then I sanded lightly with a 180 grit foam sanding block
(molds to the contours). Then I applied a diluted coat, half amber shellac,
half denatured alcohol. This left a nice color without a lot of gloss.
When you stain on top of it, are you applying the stain rather
heavily, like paint?
Let's suppose after the conditioner, you apply stain, then within a
couple minutes wipe the stain off with a cloth. Is there any color
left? I think I'm trying to ask if the conditioner seals the wood and
causes the stain application to simply be a coating on the surface of
I did try it once long ago and if I recall, I didn't really like the
results. But I'd certainly be willing to re-visit it.
I don't know what the Min Wax Pre-conditioner is made of, or how it
accomplishes it's task. I do know if you wait more than the 15 minutes
directed on the can, the stain can go on splotchy again. Though I often
take 30 minutes or more to stain a large project without any problems, so
I'm not sure where the breaking point is. Just don't precondition today and
expect the stain to go on smooth tomorrow. :)
As for the stain, I used a gel stain which doesn't tend to soak in as much
as liquid stains. They stay mostly on the surface. I squirt a little on the
stain applicator (cloth covered sponge, available at any home center), then
rub it onto the wood, kind of working it in as I go. It's not a real heavy
application, and I didn't really leave it sitting on the wood. Basically
apply and cleanup as I go. The applicator makes it easy to get a nice even
application. If it looks a little lighter in one area, I'll go back and
work a little more stain in there.
One of the other things I liked about the gel stain was I could apply the
oil based poly almost immediately. When I use a traditional stain, I have
to let it sit for several hours. If I apply the poly too soon, the final
color ends up MUCH lighter than I expected? Don't know why.
The one thing I have NOT had very good experience with are those "stain and
poly in one" things. I can never get a smooth looking finish with those,
with or without pre-conditioner. It may just be my technique, but I've
tried multiple times without any success...
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