Staining Wood – Part #2

This is part 2 of the article; part 1 can be found here.

Sanding Wood

Sanding should always be done with the grain of the wood, using as heavy a grit paper as possible without leaving scratches. Staining usually accentuates any scrape marks or other imperfections in the wood surface. So keep in mind that scratches or imperfections you can just faintly see on bare wood may show up sharply after you stain. With softer woods, such as pine, always start with a 100 grit garnet paper and finish with a 180 grit. With the harder woods, start with a 180 grit and then go to a 220 grit for final sanding before staining.

When using a natural finish, complete sanding with a 280 grit. By using the proper grit of garnet paper, the stain will be able to freely penetrate the wood and prevent the “blotchy” look which sometimes happens when wood is polished by using too fine a grit. Hand sanding has preference over vibrating or belt sanders; however, if your project needs extensive sanding, then use one of these sanders. Never use a disk sander and always finish sanding by hand. When sanding flat surfaces, use a sanding block and always sand with the grain.

Mix the Stain Thoroughly

In order to keep the stain mixture uniform while staining, the first thing you must do is to make sure that the stain is mixed thoroughly. Stir the stain until all the pigment is off the bottom. Pigment often settles on the bottom of the container, and unless this residue is blended in completely before and during applications, the stain will darken as the job progresses instead of being uniform throughout.

Color Matching

There are no standards in stain colors between manufacturers; therefore walnut stains from three different manufacturers most likely will be three different shades. Likewise, the same color stain on three different types of wood will also result in three different shades or colors because different woods take stain differently. It is always best to test the stain on a wood sample or unseen area of the same piece of wood to assure the desired effect.

Color matching with different colored stains of the same type can be obtained by mixing the different colors together and/or by diluting them with the base from which they are made. Different colored stains may be made from ground-in-oil artist’s pigments by mixing them with an oil-based sealer such as Sealacell; or they may be added and mixed into an oil-based stain to obtain different colors and hues. Remember that color depth and tone will vary with the type and color of the natural wood. The amount of stain applied, the extent of wiping, and the length of time the stain is left on the wood, also have an effect on the final color.

Staining Soft Woods

With very soft woods, such as pine or mahogany, it is always best to apply a clear sealer to the surface just before you start to stain. This makes the wood equally absorbent so that the stain will penetrate evenly, eliminating the dark blotches usually encountered in staining soft woods. The color will be lighter, and you may need to apply the stain a second time to achieve the color you want. Remember that the first coat of clear sealer on soft woods to be stained should remain on the wood only a short time (5 to 15 minutes) before you start to apply the stain.

Article will be continued in Part 3.

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