what are the best ways to apply gel stains?

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Forum topic by woodnut posted 06-17-2007 02:41 AM 14999 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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393 posts in 4228 days

06-17-2007 02:41 AM

Ok I bought a cherry gel stain to go on a chest that I am making for a customer.I tried some test strips and didn’t like any of them. Probably should tell you that this is going on pine( thats why I wanted to try the gel)
So would those of you that use gel stains please teach me how to apply this stuff.If you thin, how much do you thin. As you can tell I have never worked with this product before so all advice could be put to use. Thanks in advance.

-- F.Little

7 replies so far

View gizmodyne's profile


1780 posts in 4266 days

#1 posted 06-17-2007 02:51 AM

I have explored this topic exstensively with fir.

Good luck

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View mot's profile


4918 posts in 4212 days

#2 posted 06-17-2007 02:53 AM

I use gel stains exclusively on hardwoods. This is what I do:

I apply a liberal amount of gel stain onto the entire surface of the piece. I spread it on alot like you might put a light coat of shaving cream on your face. I then take a shop towel papertowl and work it in with a circular motion. Wax on wax off sorta deal. After I work it in, I then take a fresh towel and wipe with the grain removing excess.

That’s how I do it.

As for pine, I’ve never had luck staining it at all.

The majority of my projects in the projects page use gel stains. Most noteably, the wife’s blanket chest, the father’s built in and the entertainment centre are all done the way I described. Is this the right way? I have no idea. It’s just the way I have always done it, have had no pains with, so I’ll keep doing it this way. I’ve done hundreds of feet of baseboard, four closet doors and three inside doors all the same way with very consistent color.


-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View gizmodyne's profile


1780 posts in 4266 days

#3 posted 06-17-2007 02:55 AM

You gotta seal the pine: Shellac, washcoat, or prestain conditioner (thinned finish). Minwax actually sells a very nice inexspensive brush.

Don’t thin. That defeats the purpose. Which brand?

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View woodnut's profile


393 posts in 4228 days

#4 posted 06-17-2007 02:58 AM

Bartley cherry gel stain

-- F.Little

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 4197 days

#5 posted 06-17-2007 05:01 AM

Stain the wood first to even out the colour.
Use a NGR (Non Grain Raising) stain if possible then seal it off after removing any raised grain with 4 lb shellac.
Apply gel stain and let it rest for 15- 20 minutes then gently rub it down until the colour starts to even out.
Clean burlap works well if you can find it or as Mot does paper towels.
Not what you want? add another coat or adjust the colour.
Let that set overnight then apply several coats of wipe on poly.


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4029 posts in 4239 days

#6 posted 06-17-2007 08:10 AM

I agree with John, you should seal the pine first. I recommend Zinsser Sealcoat which is a 2lb cut of dewaxed shellac, pre-mixed and somehow stabilized so that it has a long shelf life. No muss, no fuss, not expensive. I just pad it on big flat areas, brush on legs etc. The stuff, drys fast, powders easily when sanding the finish and will help control the uptake of both stains and glazes on woods that tend to blotch like pine and cherry.

It’s even possible to add NGR stains and microtone dyes to the washcoat shellac, and then follow up with the glaze.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4475 days

#7 posted 06-17-2007 12:41 PM

On some pine, I’ve found that sanding it down too fine it won’t absorb the stain. Try about 150 grit. also use a sanding sealer.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

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