Since I needed this nightstand to match our existing bedroom furniture I decided to mix the stain myself. I was not satisfied with the results using off-the-shelf oil-based stains so I decided to try my hand at using dye stains. I ordered some TransTint dyes in Reddish-Brown and Black.
Since TransTint dyes use water and/or alcohol as the solvent then I knew I was heading down the path for a completely water-based stain and finish. Since water raises the grain of the wood and Cherry is known for blotching I decided to use MinWax water-based pre-stain wood conditioner and sand lightly with 220 grit before staining.
And for the finish I decided to use MinWax Polycrylic semi-gloss.
I did not have a good experience with the spray version of this product, but more about that later.
I mixed, stained, and finished test pieces until I was satisfied with the result. I kept careful notes of the mix I used. Here is a picture I took of one of my test pieces next to our headboard.
I ended up lightening it up a tad since cherry darkens over time.
Now that I had my stain recipe I mixed up a batch using only water as a base. I brushed the stain on, let it sit for a couple of minutes and wiped the excess off.
The nice thing about staining this way is that if you have an area which is stained unevenly you can brush it with water and the dye will go back into solution since there is no binder. The disadvantage is that since there is no binder at least your first coat of finish needs to be sprayed on, otherwise the dye goes into solution with the finish and you see brush strokes. Just saying…
Since I needed to spray the first coat I decided to try the rattlecan version of Polycrylic. Fortunately I used it on a test piece first. I shook it well but it spit and sputtered out clumps and ruined my test piece. It was then I decided just to go down to my local HF and buy an HVLP sprayer. I know folks have had mixed results spraying Polycrylic but it seemed to work fine for me. I set up my shop for spraying, ensured I had adequate ventilation and wore a respirator. Here is the carcass after a couple of coats.
One other thing I debated on was whether to glaze the piece. By glazing I mean highlighting some edges and such with black. I didn’t want to brush and wipe the glaze because I wanted more of a blended look like our furniture. I decided to try my hand at using an airbrush to get this look. I just used plain ‘ol airbrush acrylic paint and attempted to apply a somewhat random width glazing pattern on the skirt and raised panels. On the drawer fronts I was a little more bold with the glaze so they would stand out. Here are my results:
The next installment in this series will be the final assembly.
-- Todd, Huntsville, AL