I have been working on a project in Cherry and before I finished the desks I decided to try out some of the General Finishes Dye stain but on the scrap test pieces the blotching was driving me nuts. I came to this site and tried all the suggestions until I came across the discussion proclaiming that Charles Neil’s pre stain conditioner was the way to go. Bought some, tried it and still had minor blotching but it works well.
Watching his video he said it was a water based PVA enhanced product and doing some searching here and there I found that diluted PVA white glue has been used for years to control blotching. I just couldn’t leave it alone so I started experimenting and I have come up with an alternative using Gorilla White Wood glue which I think is a polyvinyl alcohol glue and not very inexpensive ($5.97 for 18 oz shipped free to house from Home Depot).
I took 5 oz of the Gorilla White Wood Glue and mixed it with 36 oz of water and then added 2 oz of General Finishes natural water based stain. I then mainly followed the application directions for the Charles Neil blotch control only with my mix and the results were very close to the same.
After sanding with 220 use two coats pre stain conditioner as follows: Apply wet coat of pre stain conditioner (allowing short time for softwood to absorb mix) then wipe excess lightly with a dampened rag of pre stain conditioner with grain (allow coat to dry fully 2-4 hours depending on temp and humidity) and sand lightly with ROS machine 220 then by hand with 220 following grain between and after 2nd coat. Hand sand with 320 along grain as a final buff before applying stain. Brush on waterborne dye stain with foam brush letting set for short time so that it bites into pre stain conditioner wiping excess off lightly with clean rag along grain without putting too much pressure on surface of wood so as not to break through the pre stain conditioner.
After dye stain has dried (minimum 2-4 hours depending on temp and humidity), apply spray with ½ lb cut to ¾ lb cut dewaxed shellac, two coats sanding (lightly with 220 ROS and hand 320 along grain) between coats not breaking through shellac into color.
Apply by spray thinned finish coat over everything and let dry then hand sand lightly with 320 or 400 and apply multiple full finish coats drying and sanding between coats.
Water Base Pre-Stain Conditioner (Homemade)
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