Staining wood and blotch control Sorry I know it 's a long read.

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Forum topic by Walt M. posted 11-21-2010 05:06 PM 2343 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Walt M.

245 posts in 3244 days

11-21-2010 05:06 PM

Topic tags/keywords: pine poplar finishing blotch control

In most of my projects I like the color of the wood and therefore don’t stain, just sand down to 220 grit and use whatever top coat I deem appropriate. But in a couple of projects in using pine or poplar I’ve used a stain to change the color of the wood for obvious reasons. So I’ve used a prestain conditioner. Once I used a minawax product and was very dissapointed in the results. So when Charles Neil came out with his prestain conditioner I had to give it a try. Well I must say that it works great at controlling blotch. So to get to my point and my question. The wood won’t take much of the stain (very light color almost locks like a tinting). So after doing some research I found an article in Fine Woodworking, I believe it said to sand down to 150 grit ( not 220) and use a sanding sealer then sand to 220 before the top coat. That way more of the stain gets into the wood ( hence darker color) and then after using the s/s and sanding to 220 gets you a smooth surface for the top coat . Sound like a plan? Or are there better ways of doing this?

3 replies so far

View Beeguy's profile


179 posts in 3870 days

#1 posted 11-21-2010 05:37 PM

I can tell you that I really stressed over this subject last year when I built a maple farm table (see my projects). I read everything I could get my hands on, searched the web, etc. I found may ideas, some which conflicted with others. Then I bought Charles Neil’s video on stains and finishing. I learned a lot. But three things were evident and mentioned by most. A sealer is critical and thinned shellac (dewaxed) is one of the best. Since then, Charles came out with his sealer which is equally good or maybe a little better. Sanding to 220 grit is the top end. Any finer and the stain does not adhere well. Lastly, and maybe the most important is the stain type. A gel stain works much better than its liquid counterpart. It gives you more control and will produce a darker finish. I have had excellent results since following these three steps. If you don’t use the gel stain then the sanding method you suggested may work, but I would experiment a little first.

I have also been playing around with tints added to the shellac. I really don’t like the natural color of most light woods and always seem to want to change it a little.

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

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Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4056 days

#2 posted 11-21-2010 06:11 PM

Walt, your routine sounds fine to me. One of the byproducts of sanding sealers is that to prevent blotching they must limit stain absorption by the wood thus it is normal to get a lighter color. I will stop sanding on the raw wood at 150, if I am going to stain, and 180 if I am going for a natural finish.

As Ron suggested you might want to take a look at using dyes rather than oil stains. I like trans tint dyes for coloring difficult woods such as maple and when I am after a exceptionally dark color. They take a little practice but can be more effective at coloring woods, when compared with oil base stains.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

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Walt M.

245 posts in 3244 days

#3 posted 11-21-2010 08:07 PM

Thanks for the advice. I’ve been considering using dyes and tints but not that advanced in finishing yet so i think I’ll switch to gel stains.

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