Refinish & Finish - Help! #1: In need of finishing advice- I need some Confidence!

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Blog entry by Molly posted 11-01-2012 09:07 AM 1592 reads 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Nothing’s finished but I have three little boys so it might be 18 years or so but the sanding is done! So I’m posting this stuff so I can at least say I’m finished with something and some how that 15 min at a time in between homeschooling and motherhood and a traveling husband I got something done so I’m going to throw my self a party and get ready to stain. So I’ve been told that I need to condition the wood before I stain but my Dad said he’s never conditioned a thing ever and not to waste my money. Truth or Fiction? The bed I want to stain and then use tung oil high gloss, the Table not so sure it’s my kids school table and I want to be able to clean it scrub etc it’s going to get marker and paint on it here and there that’s just life with kids anyone have any suggestion for the table? Any reason why I should do the bed that way? Its my first real refurbish and I just don’t know that I can bear screwing it up, not because I think i can be a pro the first time out but because I spent a good chunk of money – and like most don’t have money to toss around. I also spent every bit of my “me” time plus some on these 4 pieces, and there’s just not much of it. Not to mention, I want a real bed. So anyone that wants to give this long winded girl some advice I’ll gladly take it. i might be less concerned if I chose a mor conventional stain but I want color, my Dad most certainly wouldn’t!! approve, is it a bad idea? Ive always been pretty good with colors, but its never been furniture before, the most i ever stained was a wooded sink top made out of flooring, in a house that was hard to do anything but improve on. The saw horse is hard to see but its the colors Im hoping to navigate with. if no advice then wish me luck!!

20 comments so far

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3109 days

#1 posted 11-01-2012 09:56 AM

I am not one that eagerly gets into the middle of a debate between a father and his daughter :) However, I would disagree with Dad on this one. One of the members here, Charles Neil, has an anti-blotching product. For more information, there is also a video here the Wood Whisperer.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View 489tad's profile


3366 posts in 3011 days

#2 posted 11-01-2012 10:56 AM

Try the conditioner on some scrap and next to it without. I used it to controll the blotching. Good luck.

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2842 days

#3 posted 11-01-2012 11:20 AM

I agree with your Dad. I never condition anything.
That being said, there are exceptions to all rules.
The wood looks to be pine, which is bad about blotching, as David mentioned. I agree with David there that, if you don’t want blotching, use a conditioner. Charles Neil’s would be a good one, also as David suggested.
In this case though, there is an exception to the exception, to the rules.
You are correct that the saw horse is hard to see well in the photo. It appears though that it may have a very rustic pine look to it. If this is the case, some blotchy pine would fit the bill.
I’m afraid you’re going to have to make the final decision on this one. Personally, I think the pine bed you showed is beautiful as it is. I wouldn’t stain it at all. I would apply a good clear finish.

The table is a whole different ball game.
Because of the use you said the table is for, I’d go a whole different route for it.
For the aprons and sides I’d sue something that would make cleanup easy, while still showing wood. There is a variety of choices there depending on the look you’re going for with it.
For the top, and I can’t believe I’m saying this (I hate paint), but I’d paint it. Home Depot, and other places, sell chaulk board paint. You apply the stuff and you’ve got a chaulkboard. This is good for younger kids, because you can give them chaulk and let em at it. When they get a little older, you can keep smaller diameter chaulk nearby to use the table top as scratch paper when doing things such as math work. All the while, the chaulk board surface is a breeze to clean.


View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 2922 days

#4 posted 11-01-2012 11:34 AM

Hi Molly,
Finishing is quite easy. But the compatability of the chemicals being used and the time you apply them is the most important part. If I would be asked.. Boiled linseed oil will be the easiest way to apply for those outdoor or Valspar. The stain comes into two types.. water based and oil based. No difference in compatability with the finish such as lacquer base or polyurethane but careful when you use the water base because it become humid and will ruin some non-waterproof wood glue. Bottomline, test and try will be best to do.. There is no turning back when you apply stain, unless you sand it till the real wood comes out again.

You got a nice work. Please have more picture when done. Welcome too to lumberjock.

-- Bert

View Ken90712's profile


17556 posts in 3189 days

#5 posted 11-01-2012 02:12 PM

Molly ,
Ck put the review I posted about one of the best books on finishing and the truths about the different make ups.

The softer woods do like to blotch like pine or maple. I have used Charels Neil’s product on my Entertainment Center that was streaking while applying dye stain. It worked great, I also use seal coat ( de-waxed) which works well. I would really consider getting this book off amazon it has helped me more than most books.

Good Luck.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Arminius's profile


304 posts in 3803 days

#6 posted 11-01-2012 03:08 PM

Try using a gel stain, it doesn’t suffer from blotching. I sort of agree with William though, I would be tempted to just put the tung oil on the bed without worrying about the colour, only reason I would not would be if there are some colour variations we don’t see.

View Julian's profile


1328 posts in 2690 days

#7 posted 11-01-2012 03:26 PM

I suggest you experiment on the back of the head board. You can try a little bit of everything and on the back, which is almost always against the wall it won’t show. You can also experiment on the bottom of the tables. We all have our opinions but in the end its the person making the project that has to be satisified. Good luck.

-- Julian

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2842 days

#8 posted 11-01-2012 07:06 PM

I wanted to add, to the confidence front, we all have had our share of finishing anxiety. It sort of comes with it when you first get into wood working. I still have those same anxiety issues if I try a new finish that I’m not familiar with.
A bed is the perfect thing to learn finishing on though. As Julian said, the back of the head board is something that traditionally goes against the wall. So, looking at your design, you have plenty of area to test whatever finishing method you decide on before committing to anything.
Someone else also hit on a point that I’d like to second.
The biggest mistakes I’ve made in finishing has been impatience. However you finish this. Always, ALWAYS, make sure a coat is dry before adding another product or a second coat. That, I think, is the most often mistake made in finishing. Putting a new coat on over another coat can make even the best applied finishing jobs go south in a heartbeat. Dry times are always on the product label. When in doubt, because of weather conditions or whatever, wait longer. I’ll give you an example. Watco Danish Oil says to wait 72 hours before applying polyurethane over it. From experience, I wait closer to a week.

Also, I’d like to reiterate what Ken says about reading a book on the subject if you have time. These books give plenty of good tips. Most also usually tell you how to deal with problems. Before reading some books on the subject, I used to panic when I found out I had a mistake, such as a run that I hadn’t noticed before drying. All these are things that can only help you.

I’d like to suggest, again, a clear finish on the bed. I just looked at the photo again, and it is beautiful as it is.


View Molly's profile


18 posts in 2036 days

#9 posted 11-01-2012 08:33 PM

Thank you! The stains I already have, are Cabot bought 5 for various projects, and Im out of project $ will they work? I don’t have a shop yet so the quicker I get it done the better I’m outside There was mold on the bottom of the foot board and a few other places, I’ve sanded most of it but in areas dark green hue in spots almost black, I’m pretty sure once I paint it, I won’t have to worry about it growing any more is that correct? If I sand any more I’ll lose that flat plane., because my sander is on the brink of what i can handle physically, not that I’ve tried many, but forget the B&D Mouse on large projects, anyway I don’t think I can sand that much away keep it planed and still have the fortitude. (, I did the entertainment center with that baby- how dumb am I ? If it wasn’t so big ( the piece), I’d have fixed it, but I huge and in heavy use. Anyway, I’ve already had to sand too deep in some spots that wood had separated to clean it up, its been in the weather unfortunately. Seems like a color stain might help. I have Cabot products, the stain color themselves don’t look like the picture some are almost pastel like for a little girls room, I’m not happy about it but I was hoping to mix the Cabot natural in and lighten it, or I could mix it with tongue oil bc it’s oil based right? It’s ok to tell me no I just really hate to waste.. money or material and It says no returns- I could give it a try though- its certainly not the colors I thought I was purchasing but like I said Its all new to me, what do I know?
So.. In summary, do I need to do something else to keep residual mold spots from breaking down the wood?
Are Cabot products Stain & Conditioner acceptable? I’m not looking for a fancy finish?
Can I mix stains together to play with color? Or Should I use the colored oil based stain ( Cabot) with tongue oil finish- high gloss ( Formby’s). I know I can use the back of the headboard to play with it method wise though I’m kinda stumped on how to mix and keep a relatively accurate color, I like the distressed look but I’m not sure if certain places are darker, or lighter , will I be able to sand it out into something fine and aged with some fine sanding?
Lastly if I can condition, stain, etc it early afternoon outside will I be able to move it indoors to continue drying, or do I have to invade my poor husbands office for its indoor ness and kid free ness?

View Molly's profile


18 posts in 2036 days

#10 posted 11-01-2012 08:46 PM

So what you’re saying is that woodworking is going to be my greatest exercise in patience, awesome, between the hobbies and the kids, I’m going to learn to be one patient woman :)

View MNgary's profile


298 posts in 2417 days

#11 posted 11-01-2012 08:50 PM

Spray hydrogen peroxide on the mold to kill it before painting or staining, Molly. You can buy it at either the supermarket or a drugstore for a couple dollars.

Maybe spray, wait a day or two, spray again, then let thoroughly dry for a couple days before you paint or stain.

-- I dream of a world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View Molly's profile


18 posts in 2036 days

#12 posted 11-01-2012 09:37 PM

More patience huh?

View OnlyJustME's profile


1562 posts in 2377 days

#13 posted 11-02-2012 04:29 AM

Vinegar will kill the mold too. Don’t know if will affect the wood in some way though. I use Cabot’s timber oils for outdoor projects. It’s good stuff. If mixing to lighten it up i would suggest starting with the natural and adding the colored just a bit at a time until it’s dark enough for you. All of this in a separate container/jar of course. It’s easier to darken then it is to lighten. Word of caution; don’t pile up the stain rags. They heat up as they cure/dry and can catch fire.

If you were looking for brighter more solid colors you should look into milk paint.

-- In the end, when your life flashes before your eyes, will you like what you see?

View inchanga's profile


117 posts in 2112 days

#14 posted 11-02-2012 05:11 PM

With or without a conditioner staining pine is all a bit by guess and by god as to what results you will get. In particular I would definitely not put stain anywhere near the saw horse, the grain is too rough and open and it looks great anyway. As far as the table is concerned pre cat laquer will give a tough maintenance free finish.
Give it three coats sanding lightly between coats. After the last coat dip some 0000 wire wool in paste wax and rub it into the finish and then buff out. You will then have a lovely traditional finish but with a low maintenance and high resistance to spills wear etc. You can also get coloured waxes if you want to vary the wood colour.
Good luck

-- chris, north wales

View Molly's profile


18 posts in 2036 days

#15 posted 11-03-2012 06:42 AM

Thank you thank you! I’m not touching the saw horse, I just wanted to use the colors. I conditioned the wood, and tested the back of the foot board, not sure how I feel about it, but I’m not loving it, but its not dry yet so I’m going to sleep on it, and test my patience. It looks really dark and the color varies using the same amount, same technique so I see what you mean. If I sand will it lighten? , by the way do they make tighter gloves that don’t get eaten up. The ones I had weren’t supposed to but they were def struggling and they were like dish gloves, how are you supposed to do fine detail areas with mitts on?

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