Reply by NathanAllen

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Posted on Staining Maple

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376 posts in 3378 days

#1 posted 10-07-2010 06:41 PM

Two parts to this post.

First; Preventing this in the future.
The technique I use for getting dark stains in Maple is based on instructions graciously posted by M. Spagnuolo on his site ( and the technicial musings at woodweb. It isn’t perfect, but I’m getting closer to a piano finish given time.

1. Moisten maple with damp cloth, you’re only looking to raise the grain not force enough water in to warp the wood
2. Sand to 120, 180, 220, with perferred method, you’re looking to prep an even and smooth surface, knocking down all the raised grain
3. Coat with dewaxed 1lb (Zinsser Sanding Sealer cut 50% with Denatured Alcohol) thinly
4. Mix Analine (TransTint like 8iowa suggests above) dye with water, apply by rag with a light hand. You have some protection from oversaturation from the shellac sanding sealer, but even with dye you can cause slight blotching with maple/birch ply. You won’t get the color you want in the first coat, for darker applications it is more like five to ten.
5. Once dry at the right hue you’ll want to apply a tinted dewaxed shellac (2lb) using a slightly more warm shade than used in the water based dye. Analine dyes are remarkably flat, the shellac overcoat is intended to warm the color. Again a light hand since the dyes will react with the alcohol, not enough force to move them around
6. Top coat with your preferred finish. Oil and Urethene will provide a very durable finish, poly will also work if you want a bulletproof finish.

Second, dealing with the situation of a blotchy entertainment center sitting in your shop

If you have time you can strip the surface using a dichloromethane based stain/varnish stripper. Please note, it is very caustic, will cause a first degree chemical burn if applied to skin. Wear gloves, wear goggles, work with plenty of fresh air. For the solid wood parts an alternative is to sand, but on ply parts you’ll have to be careful. Once you’ve removed the stain you can go ahead with a coloring/finishing routine

If you’re “out of time” on the project then you’ll have to use a tinted shellac/glaze method that will obscure the grain. You’re looking to create a smooth finish by applying full strength tinted shellac and glaze coat. Stick with dewaxed to avoid topcoat problems, and apply enough coats to hide the blotchiness.

Best of luck

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