Before you continue reading, please make sure to read part 2 of this guide.
Techniques recommended on stain container labels vary from one product to another. There are, however, only two essential steps in staining all wood: applying the stain and wiping off the residue. Although there are many different ways with a verity of equipment to apply stain, most craftsmen stain their projects by hand. Brushes and rags are good tools for hand applications. It is also handy to have a rag ready for wiping off stain quickly. Since certain parts of the wood may be naturally darker than others, you can create a more uniform appearance by wiping the stain from these areas soon after it is applied.
For best results in controlling the depth and intensity of color, use a cloth to apply the stain. With a cloth you can wipe the stain on carefully, instead of flooding the wood surface with stain as you would when using a brush. Wiping down the surface then removes exces surface residue which has not been absorbed into the wood, so that the true beauty of the grain can show.
The darkness or intensity of the stain is determined not only by the stain color, but also by how soon after application it is wiped off. For a very light tone, wipe off the stain as soon as it is applied. Leave the stain on longer for deeper penetration and darker color. You can also apply a second coat of stain for darker, richer color, but wait at least twelve hours for the first coat to dry.
When wiping down, use a rag that has been slightly dampened in the stain. Remember that most penetrating stains need 24 hours to dry before applying the finish.
Types of Stains
There are many different types of stains on the market: water based, oil based, alcohol based, dye, pigment, gelled, penetrating and non-penetrating.
Water based stains in most cases are stains that blend water soluble aniline dyes in water base. It is generally not recommended to use water based stains because water is one of wood’s worst enemies. Water raises the grain of wood, warps wood and often starts the mildew and rot process in wood.
Alcohol based stains are made using the same types of dyes in an alcohol base. This has the advantage of not raising the grain, but generally these dyes are not as color-fast as the pigmented stains.
Non-penetrating oil stains or gelled stains are thick stains which usually have a linseed oil base and do not penetrate the wood. Non-penetrating oil stains are nearly opaque, like paint, and will cover and cloud the grain more than other types of stain. This kind of stain hides the grain rather than highlighting it.
Penetrating oil stains are the most popular stains among craftsmen because of their ease in application and the beautiful way they highlight the grain of the wood. Penetrating oil stains often are a blend of dyes and pigments. Some penetrating oil stains such as Sealacell, also have a sealer as a base and provide a wood seal at the same time.
Wood finishing and staining should be rewarding because you add character and beauty to your project. Just as you develop different ways and techniques in woodworking so you will develop different methods with staining and finishing.
I hope you have found this series of articles on wood staining informative.