pre stain conditioner for plywood

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Forum topic by jtlighting posted 06-07-2010 06:44 AM 10698 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View jtlighting's profile


27 posts in 2350 days

06-07-2010 06:44 AM

hey all im almost ready to finish “the indestructable” dresser for the “human wrecking ball” and i have read somewhere that before i stain the plywood i should use a pre stain conditioner so my 2 questions would be #1 is this a good idea ? #2 how to i apply this is it like applying a stain? oh i almost forgot should i sand after application of this conditioner before staining or should i just stain over it ? any help is appreciated as always or any alternative methods would help me out as well thanks


12 replies so far

View CharlesNeil's profile


1602 posts in 3290 days

#1 posted 06-07-2010 01:50 PM

what is the wood and what is the preconditioner you have

View CharlieM1958's profile


16229 posts in 3638 days

#2 posted 06-07-2010 02:47 PM

I’ve used Minwax water based pre-stain conditioner. Because it is water-based it tends to raise the grain a bit, so a light sanding is necessary.

If you are using just plain old pine plywood, the conditioner will help your stain be less blotchy, but if you are using a hardwood plywood, I don’t think it’s necessary.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View 8iowa's profile


1540 posts in 3181 days

#3 posted 06-07-2010 03:03 PM

With veener thickness of about three sheets of paper, modern plywood will not tolerate much sanding. For a pre-conditioner I like to use de-waxed shellac (Zinsser) mixed 50-50 with denatured alcohol.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2405 days

#4 posted 06-07-2010 03:27 PM

I tried using the conditioner extensively on plywood… and couldn’t honestly see much, if any, difference for my effort.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View drax0r's profile


18 posts in 2330 days

#5 posted 06-07-2010 04:12 PM

I used the oil-based Minwax conditioner on all softwoods before I stain – including pine plywood.

I didn’t run side-by-side comparison on pine, but the piece I finished looked really good. And it does definitely make a difference when comparing test stains on other pine.

To apply, I use either a lint-free rag or foam brush. I just basically wet the surface down. You want it to be moist, but you don’t want want puddles. :)

If you’re using oil based stain, you’d want to use the oil based conditioner, so sanding between conditioner and stain isn’t necessary.

After 5-10 minutes it’s ready for the first coat of stain.

Make sure you don’t wait too long before applying the first coat of stain after conditioning. I made the mistake of going to bed after conditioner once. When I applied stain the next day it looked horrible. Apparently after its been on the wood for a while (1-2 hours) it closes up the pores and stain won’t stick.

Depending on the weather, I like to wait 10-20 minutes after application to begin applying stain.

  • This assumes you’re using pine plywood – if you’re using a hardwood ply (oak veneer, for example) you can probably just skip the conditioning all together.
View a1Jim's profile


115172 posts in 2997 days

#6 posted 06-07-2010 04:26 PM

Charle Neils Blotch control works great.

-- Custom furniture

View jtlighting's profile


27 posts in 2350 days

#7 posted 06-07-2010 06:21 PM

sorry folks its just regular old fashion cabinet grade plywood from my local big box store thanks i dont want to paint it and im using a minwax oil base stain from brought from the same place thanks all oh i almost forgot the face frame /edging is 1/4 in poplar if this helps any


View jtlighting's profile


27 posts in 2350 days

#8 posted 06-07-2010 06:22 PM

oh by the way i havent brought the conditioner as of yet this was the original basis for my inquiry


View Stevinmarin's profile


838 posts in 2495 days

#9 posted 06-07-2010 06:46 PM

Whenever I stain pine, I apply Minwax Conditioner. But to tell you the truth, I still get blotching. I think a shellac sealer is a good way to go.

-- Entertainment for mere mortal woodworkers.

View Beeguy's profile


178 posts in 3056 days

#10 posted 06-07-2010 08:49 PM

Although I have had success with a wash coat of shellac, I have to agree with Jim, Charle Neils Blotch control works great.

-- Ron, Kutztown, PA "The reward is in the journey."

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 3547 days

#11 posted 06-07-2010 09:32 PM

Avoid the low end MinWhacks consumer products.

Try Zinsser SealCoat shellac. It’s a 2 lb. cut of dewaxed shellac that is formulated to have a long shelf life.
For use as a sealer, dilute it 50/50 with denatured alcohol.

-- 温故知新

View stnich's profile


116 posts in 2344 days

#12 posted 06-08-2010 04:58 AM

I’ve used Minwax pre stain conditioner both oil based and water based depending on what I’m staining with. I also use a lot of poplar 1x material and birch plywood in making clocks that I sell on our website When I use poplar and birch plywood I use Zar stains that I find work very well. When I use oak on our clocks I use Minwax oil based wood finish that works well on oak. Proper surface preperation ie. sanding is equally as important as a conditioner. I’d like to try Charles Neils blotch control but haven’t had a chance yet.

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