Wood Stain in a Nutshell
When most of us think of wood stain, we picture a can of premixed oil-based wood stain with a name like “Golden Oak” or “Vermont Maple”. And most of us know the familiar application process: Wipe the stain on the surface of the wood, let it “soak in” and then wipe off the excess. Sometimes the results are great; sometimes, not so good. For most woodworkers, that’s just one of life’s mysteries, and for every wood coloring project there’s an underlying risk and a spine-tingling element of suspense. But a little knowledge can quickly help you to take more control of the process, and get more consistent, predictable results.
Wood Finishing Basics
I work in a small cabinet shop, and the owner has asked me to help him with a stain/color match for a client. I am a good cabinet maker, but I admit I am a novice at finishing. That’s what I have been doing now at the shop for the past three weeks. I am using an Accuspray HVLP setup and it’s really nice. I want to learn more about finishing and cabinet touch-up and repair on-site so I can be a better asset for my shop.
Introduction to Finishing
Before I even started woodworking, I had to finish wood. In the restoration of my first old house, I replaced a lot of the old damaged woodworking and stripped down the doors, staircase etc. Back in those days, polyurethane was new on the market so being fairly resistant to change, I stuck with the old varnish routine of finishing. When I finally reached the point of coming to accept polyurethane as a product that was here to stay, I embraced it as a wonderful thing. Oil based stain and polyurethane satin finish was my standard fare for wood finishing.
Finishing tips index
Finishing your project will both protect it and bring out the beauty of the wood. Commonly used finishes belong to basically six groups, straight oils, oil and varnish blends, varnish, water based, shellac and lacquer. Each have their own characteristics and application methods, all can be applied with ordinary hand-finishing methods.
All of the finishes that are discussed and described in these articles are as I personally use them, and my preferences and opinions about the various finishes are the result of my experience with them. Others are free to disagree because their experiences may differ, but there is nothing in these articles that is copied from others.
Woodworking Oil Stains
There are lots of wood stains on the market these days -- gels, water-based -- but the bread and butter in my shop is oil-based stain. Nothing fancy. Just your basic off-the-shelf stain that's available at almost every hardware store. One reason is oil-based stains are easy to use. And the come in a wide range of colors that are resistant to fading.
Don't Ruin Your Woodworking: Learn How to Stain Wood with Oil Based Stains
Oil based stains are the most commonly found stains at your local hardware store or home improvement warehouse. Always follow the manufacturers instructions for use and proper disposal. The first process in staining wood is making sure the proper amount of time was spent in preparing the surface of your woodworking project. Before applying any stain, try to break up your project into zones.
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