How to Fix Uneven Stain Job

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Forum topic by blaker posted 10-20-2014 01:18 PM 1546 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 1313 days

10-20-2014 01:18 PM

Topic tags/keywords: minwax dark walnut minwax pre-stain conditioner staining pine waterlox finishing

This is my first post – before I start, I wanted to thank everyone for the great knowledge here. I just joined, but I’ve been pillaging this place for information for about 6 months ;)

My wife and I recently bought a house and are redoing our kitchen. I’m doing a plank style countertop for the island. I’ve pulled a lot of good info from this site re: table layup, and it went great. Now, however, I’ve hit an issue. It’s a 8/4 pine layup, approx 96×48. We’re finishing with minwax dark walnut and waterlox. I did a test layup and the finishing process went surprisingly smoothly – sand 100, 120, 150, minwax wood conditioner, 3 coats of minwax dark walnut, 6 coats of waterlox. Looks great.

For the final countertop, I am having HUGE issues with getting the sides to take stain evenly. I’ve since researched minwax wood conditioner some more and realize it’s not the ‘preferred’ product, but it’s what i used. The top looks great. The end grain is a bit blotchy, but I know that’s almost unavoidable with pine. More of an issue, the sides on the 96” length are simply not taking stain. I put it on, let it sit about 15 minutes, and it just wipes right off. They took a little from the first application, but are substantially lighter than the top – it’s an oak side with a dark walnut top.

I’m not sure if it’s because the wood conditioner soaked in improperly, somehow, or if I over-sanded the edges to polish the routed edge profile. The wood does feel a bit “polished”.

So – does anyone have any recommendations on how to address this? Specifically, the 96” length that won’t take stain – should I just sand it down to bare wood with 60 grit? Should I apply mineral spirits first, will that help pull some of the conditioner out?

Thanks for any help.

Photos: the top has two coats of dark walnut, the edge has 4! And it’s still 5 shades lighter.

“edge grain – 96 length - biggest problem.

also here- the flash throws off the contrast a bit, but you get the idea.

end grain- the wife actually likes it, but any suggestions are welcome.

3 replies so far

View Woodknack's profile


11621 posts in 2377 days

#1 posted 10-21-2014 03:26 AM

Sand it down or hand plane it and try again.

-- Rick M,

View Loren's profile


10384 posts in 3645 days

#2 posted 10-21-2014 03:59 AM

For end grain or general uneven stain:

Acrylic model paints can be dry brushed to create
a faux effect. It’s a useful technique if you don’t
want to go to heroic measures to win with
staining pine, which is a tricky wood to stain
evenly as you’ve found.

There’s no reason the edge grain should not take
the stain similarly to the face grain. There’s
something weird up with that.

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 3381 days

#3 posted 10-21-2014 11:16 PM

I believe you already guessed it. I think you over-sanded with too fine a grit. I’ve done this on purpose on end grain so it will take less stain and come out about about as dark as the long grain. I would just sand it with 120 and put some stain on a spot to test.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

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