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Adventures in Finishing wood

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Blog entry by Bob #2 posted 05-06-2010 05:53 PM 1987 reads 3 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

From blotch control
It seems one of the most difficult tasks for woodworkers is finding a stain and finish system that’s capable of giving consistent and durable results.
For many years I had used nitrocellulose lacquer for my projects with appropriate oil and or water-based stains. One of the problems with lacquer isit is extremely volatile and subject to vaporize organic compounds that could be dangerous from a health perspective.

With this in mind, I set out to try and adapt my system to replace the nitrocellulose system. One of my local suppliers was now carrying General finishes brand so I purchased a sanding sealer, a stain,and a waterbased top coat.
In the past my custom was to lay down a sanding sealer to prevent blotching then build up a stain coat over this base.
Much to my surprise, the result was a disaster with a very, very poor take on the stain.
I tried a test sample using the stain alone and found that I could not control the color and again was faced with blocthing where the stain penetrated some areas of the wood more deeply than others.

I then contacted customer service and they suggested I was using the product all wrong and that I should stain first and then apply sanding sealer. I was disappointed with this result as well.
There well may be a way to use this product as suggested but I have exhausted my limited abilities at this point.

Quite unexpectedly, I ran across a video of our woodworking buddy Charles Neil who had just come up with a new material for blotch control.




From blotch control

I watched the video and was intrigued by the absolute simplicity of the product and how effectively it controlled the problem I was experiencing. I immediately got on the blower and ordered some for my own use which arrived promptly a couple of days ago. I perform tests on the product as soon as I got it to be surer was using it correctly and that I can accomplish the results that I needed.
To be perfectly honest, I am astounded with this product. Not only does it still would sufficiently to balance the stain but it rarely raises the grain making subsequent passes much quicker and easier to perform.



From blotch control




From blotch control

Here’s a side-by-side comparison with the blotch control product on the right and the general finishes on the left:



From blotch control

As you can see the results from the General Finishes are far different from what I got using the Blotch Control as the first coat then the stain.(left sample) if you notice the sample on the right the stain at the top of the test is at least a shade lighter than the stain on the bottom. I applied a second coat of stain on the bottom to be sure I could build up the color if needed. As you can see no streaking, no blotching.
Here’s a close-up showing how well the grain in this piece of Alder is reflected through the stain and is actually enriched compared with the results on the left.




From blotch control

The other thing that I noticed was that the stain laid on top of the blotch control and seemed to maintain its color value better than the stain on the left which had mixed with the wood itself and actually gone off its original cherry coloring. Where I applied it over the sanding sealer it became quite streaky and blotchy. Not what I was looking for at all.
I’m confident enough at this point to go back to my current project(a folding chair) and refinish it with this amazing product Blotch Control
as the backbone for my stain and topcoat.
I will keep you posted with the results.

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner



13 comments so far

View Tony's profile

Tony

978 posts in 2777 days


#1 posted 05-06-2010 07:08 PM

Hi Bob

I am still waiting to hear back from Mr Neil on the shipping costs, but I know he working on this concentrated version, so maybe that is the delay. One of the most difficult woods I work with is Birch, the grain is always changing direction (maybe it is just Finnish birch that does this), so it is quite difficult to get a good finish with the hand plane [unless you use a high angle blade, 60° – 70°, which is always good for a cardiovascular workout:)]

If you have some difficult birch can you give this product a try out for me, and just see if the “blotch control” works well on the change of direction areas of the boards. I am trying to order 5 liters, I am sure that this will be a hit over here, especially with all the wood turners – Birch is so abundant and virtually free of charge – but the pure white/cream color, does get a little boring at times – traditional staining does not work well because of the blotching.

We have tried a lot of different approaches for coloring the birch, but none seem to work 100% satisfactorily – this product looks as if it could be the answer for an even color, whilst maintaing the grain patterns underneath.

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (http://www.poydatjatuolit.fi)

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6699 posts in 2726 days


#2 posted 05-06-2010 08:05 PM

Hello my friend,

I am always pleased to hear about happy endings!

Sounds like a great product, which coming from Charles Neil, is certainly no surprise.

Behave,

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3808 posts in 2768 days


#3 posted 05-06-2010 08:13 PM

Tony: I will try it on some of my birch here and shoot you a pic or two.
I spoke to Charles earlier today and mentioned your dilema regarding shipping.
I should mention that I have no interest in Charles Neil’s product other than being a satisfied customer.Lee: Great to hear from you. I think about you often and hope you are busy and happy.
This product should be a real time saver for a guy like yourself too!

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2698 posts in 2033 days


#4 posted 05-06-2010 10:45 PM

Bob, Thanks for the information. At my age it’s hard to think about changing the way I’ve finished for many years, but with all the new products coming out I’m begininng to be more open to some of them. This has helped me a lot.

Thanks

-- She thought I hung the moon--now she just thinks I did it wrong

View Tony's profile

Tony

978 posts in 2777 days


#5 posted 05-06-2010 10:46 PM

Bob – I was assuming that you were only passing on the information as a totally satisfied customer. I was being a little presumptuous, hoping I could impose on you impartiality in this subject as a valued and trusted LJ acquaintance.

Yo do not need to go to the trouble of photographing it, but just a quick assessment on the difficult grain areas, don’t spend too much time on it – Thanks in advance

Shipping is an expensive problem, it may be cheaper for me to fly to the USA with an empty suitcase and pick it up than to get it shipped (not Mr Neil’s fault) – crazy prices these days. We have really cheap flight companies offering return trips to the USA for a couple of hundred dollars, why doesn’t somebody come up with a cheap shipping company – they would make a fortune, low prices and high volume.

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (http://www.poydatjatuolit.fi)

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3808 posts in 2768 days


#6 posted 05-06-2010 10:54 PM

Hi Tony:

I was just saying to someone I know quite well that the inmates are running the Asylum.
It seems that there are so many rules so many regulations so many hoops to jump through that business is rapidly coming to a standstill not only in Europe but also here in North America. The bureaucrats here at least have no specific training in the areas that they are attempting to administrate and as a result the regulations are compounded with foolishness, tons of paper burden and a continuing and ongoing insolence of those people that call themselves civil servants. As great or greater Winston Churchill once said they are neither civil nor servile.

There are so many districts set up with their own brand of regulations with respect to health concerns, safety, national defense, pesticides, food and drug administration, medical devices, etc. etc. that gridlock is setting in.

There was a day when you could place a product in a box and put a note on the box declaring the contents of value that blogs could travel from one continent to the other in a matter of days and for a fraction of the expense.
Today you’ll be darned lucky if 6 to 10 pages of paperwork and 15 to 20 days travel can be accomplished for less than a day’s wages.
I’m fed up.
We need to take our countries back!

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3808 posts in 2768 days


#7 posted 05-06-2010 10:58 PM

Kent:
If you are getting into Water based products this one is a must.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Cheers
Bob

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Karson's profile

Karson

34912 posts in 3147 days


#8 posted 05-06-2010 11:22 PM

Thanks for the info Bob, and thanks Charles for the product.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

3971 posts in 2810 days


#9 posted 05-07-2010 01:29 AM

Bob, quick question for you. Have you tried a 1 or 2 pound cut of dewaxed shellac before stain, and if so, how does this compare to Charles’ product? This stuff sounds like the best thing since sliced bread…

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3808 posts in 2768 days


#10 posted 05-07-2010 01:39 AM

Doug, that’s what I learned on several years ago.;-) The problem here is that we are moving over to water based dyes, stians and coatings.
You can flood dye on shellac but I never got as even a coat of dye as I am getting with Charles product.
I havent yet, but can see myself using an art brush to even out dyes with this product as a base.

Shellac as a base will cause pooling on your wood if yoo follow it with water base.
E.G. take a look at the pic above with the area marked “Stain + Sealer”.
That’s what I call pooling.

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View mikega's profile

mikega

81 posts in 2614 days


#11 posted 05-07-2010 04:49 AM

Bob, I have also been testing Charles blotch control product. I did my testing on a piece of cherry with sap wood and a piece of poplar that had a lot of green in it. The product worked exactly like Charles shows in his video. There was one thing that he did not show on the video that really sold me on the the product. Check out the picture below. This is the same finish oil and water base on both the cherry and poplar and when I laid them side by side it was difficult to tell which wood was the cherry and which is the poplar.


I also did a test with a piece of oak and a piece of oak plywood to see if I could get them to match.

Here is one last picture to show how well it handled sap wood.

The only thing I think Charles should have done was to name this product COLOR CONTROL since it does more than just taking care of blotching. I also agree with you that this product is easier (and cheaper) to use then the old way of mixing shellac and alcohol.
So far I have been very happy with the results I have been getting with my testing and can’t wait to give it a try on a complete project.

-- Mike www.flickr.com/photos/paturner

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3808 posts in 2768 days


#12 posted 05-07-2010 05:26 AM

Mike , looks stunning on the cherry vs poplar example.
I’ve never been able to get this close without really ” tweaking” the stain process and or using tints in the finish coat which can be less than rewarding if you re matching something.
I found I could practically paint a picture on the wood once Charles product formed a base for the dye stain Like you, I can hardly wait to get after it and I usually dread finishing.
I’m feeling really good about his product!

Bob

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3808 posts in 2768 days


#13 posted 05-07-2010 04:40 PM

Autumn, I am finding that two coatings of the wood conditioner with a light scuffing between coats to remove any nub on the surface is giving me a really nice platform to build my stain on.
I am using a synthetic abrasive pad for the scuffing to avoid cutting through the coating .
They are similar to this:

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

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