stain and finish in one coat

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Forum topic by jdh122 posted 06-18-2015 06:47 AM 1097 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1058 posts in 3055 days

06-18-2015 06:47 AM

I have no experience with staining wood at all, but am going to do a solid wood built-in bookcase for my brother, and he wants the whole room to be dark brown, like a traditional library or men’s club/smoking room. Time constraints are significant, since he lives 1000 miles from me and I only have a week to get it all done (I’ve shipped a bunch of handtools, and he has a contractor tablesaw and I’ve located a public shop I can use in Toronto, where he lives in case I need access to a jointer or planer).
So I’m looking for some finishing advice: would you recommend that I steer clear of all-in-one products like Minwax PolyShades? The easiness is pretty attractive, but obviously not if the result is poor.
Any help is appreciated.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

10 replies so far

View Colin's profile


174 posts in 1601 days

#1 posted 06-18-2015 08:12 AM

I’ve had some very good results with darl oak Brywax – rub on even very light pine and it stains down quite dark, buffs up to a dull sheen (i think more tastefull than gloss) The only thing to look out for is overspread on the glue – wax dosn’t soak in to waterproof glue – learn’t that one the hard way on a rocking horse :-(
wiping off isn’t enough, you have to wash off any overspill. I’ll see if I can fine some pictures…......

-- Live Forever...............or Die Trying

View SuperCubber's profile


1047 posts in 2522 days

#2 posted 06-18-2015 11:28 AM

I tried Polyshades once, and that was one-too-many times. That stuff blows.

-- Joe | Spartanburg, SC | "To give anything less than your best is to sacrafice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine

View willie's profile


534 posts in 2692 days

#3 posted 06-18-2015 01:51 PM

Color consistency is a problem if coverage is not even. Too many dark or light spots. Stain separately then apply finish. More time, better results!

-- Every day above ground is a good day!!!

View CB_Cohick's profile


487 posts in 1488 days

#4 posted 06-18-2015 03:55 PM

I tried Polyshades once, and that was one-too-many times. That stuff blows.

- SuperCubber

I’m in this boat also. I found some of this stuff while cleaning out Mom’s house and thought I would try it on a project I was ready to finish. BAD MOVE! I ended up having to sand the whole thing down and start the finishing process over. Recently while helping my son-in-law pick out some stain, the stain pixie at Lowe’s mentioned that she had used it many times successfully, so mileage may vary. I emphatically told her he was not allowed to use the stuff, lol.

-- Chris - Would work, but I'm too busy reading about woodwork.

View jdh122's profile


1058 posts in 3055 days

#5 posted 06-18-2015 04:14 PM

Thanks a lot everyone. Looks like you saved me from a disaster.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View pintodeluxe's profile


5816 posts in 3051 days

#6 posted 06-18-2015 04:29 PM

I too would avoid the all-in-one finishes. It is akin to tinting, which is very difficult to master. If it is a standard hardwood case, I would stain it with oil based stain and instruct your brother how to wipe on several coats of thin poly. If it is cherry or softwood, then different finishing rules apply.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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1058 posts in 3055 days

#7 posted 06-18-2015 04:53 PM

It’s red oak, mostly solid wood, some plywood.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View bonesbr549's profile


1579 posts in 3304 days

#8 posted 06-18-2015 05:32 PM

As others said avoid! I don’t even like stain! If you want to color, then go with dye’s! They lay on the top and if you don’t get the result you like take it off and do it again. With stain it goes down deep and no do over.

Choose a good top coat and away you go!

I like general finishes and have had great results.

Another great thing with dye’s you can add and mix and match and come up with a custom color. If my topcoat it oilbase, then I use a waterbase dye, and if the top coat is waterbase, I like an alcohol dye. This is so the top coat does not lift the color.

Another great use of dyes is a wash coat. You can put a weak coat on and sand till it’s gone and you won’t get any surprises when you do that finish coat.

Thanks Charles Neil for that one! Saved me so much over/under sanding.

Have a good one, cheers!

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View JAAune's profile


1854 posts in 2554 days

#9 posted 06-19-2015 12:44 AM

Polyshades is too hard and slow to work with. If time is an issue, there are much faster ways to get finish down.

Transtint in a water or alcohol base plus a dark oil stain are pretty quick to use. The dye will dry within an hour if humidity and air-flow are satisfactory. Slop it on as fast as possible and wipe it down quickly.

The oil stain can be top-coated an hour after application if no excess is left on the surface and a solvent-based topcoat product is used.

-- See my work at and

View pjones46's profile


1001 posts in 2880 days

#10 posted 06-19-2015 01:03 AM

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