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Why not use gel stain for everything?

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Forum topic by Woodtechie posted 12-07-2014 09:00 PM 1162 views 1 time favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Woodtechie

55 posts in 1097 days


12-07-2014 09:00 PM

I’m starting to venture away from my tendency to leave wood it’s natural color and into staining more. I’ve done very little staining to date, with mixed results. Reading about the various types here… http://www.popularwoodworking.com/article/understanding_stains

..it seems to me that a gel stain is easier to use and will probably work for almost anything other than maybe a touch-up job (varnish stain). The article touches on the ideal uses but doesn’t seem to make a convincing case to use much other than a gel stain.

Are there any situations where using a gel stain is definitely a bad idea? Is it safe to use as a default for the cheap lazy bum who wants to stick to one type as much as possible?

(I’m about to try staining some Oak a darker color (Java) and am planning to use a General Finishes gel stain applied with foam brushes.)


11 replies so far

View Dallas's profile

Dallas

3599 posts in 1953 days


#1 posted 12-07-2014 09:07 PM

Ummmm, stain is basically a type of thinned paint that can soak into the wood you are using, and dye isn’t?

Stain covers the grain and muddies it.

Dye enhances the figure and brings out the grain, making everything pop more.

Take a look at how they color guitars. You will see either dye or a colored lacquer on a quality job.

Dean, Teisco and others in the later years used a stain because it was much cheaper and easier to work with.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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Woodtechie

55 posts in 1097 days


#2 posted 12-07-2014 09:15 PM

I see – don’t think the article talked about that difference with Dye much, but that seems like a pretty important difference.

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Dallas

3599 posts in 1953 days


#3 posted 12-07-2014 09:25 PM

I use stain a lot, but only to try to cover what kind of wood I am actually using or as a repair.

I use to use stain from wherever I found it.

When I started working with musical instruments I started using dyes and have been so much happier.

The lesson here, (not from me), Never take an article in a magazine or a post in a forum as gospel. Especially mine!

DO more research, not with just one search term but with as many as you can think of, one at a time.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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a1Jim

115202 posts in 3043 days


#4 posted 12-07-2014 11:00 PM

I agree with Dallas for the most part,the type of finishes someone uses,has a lot of determining factors.For many, it has to do with how easy it is to apply,but thats not the be all and end all to the finishing equation. The type of Finishes and stains has to do ,what the project as and what it is going to be used for,the type of wood your putting it on.the look you want,the possibility of touch up if necessary and durability of the end product. We could go on and on about all of these factors,but it would take a book to try and cover all the variations and there already many books out there by people far more qualified than I am. The book I recommend is by Charles Neil

http://charlesneilwoodworking.3dcartstores.com/Charles-Neil-Finishing-Simply-Put-Chemistry-Degree-Not-Required_p_238.html

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View bonesbr549's profile

bonesbr549

1176 posts in 2533 days


#5 posted 12-07-2014 11:43 PM

I don’t use stain let alone gel. If I’m to color the wood, I prefer Dyes. It’s better control and does not go deep, and if you screw it up, just sand it off.

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

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a1Jim

115202 posts in 3043 days


#6 posted 12-08-2014 12:06 AM

I agree with the use of dyes you control it by using as many coats as you want,because unlike stains, dyes get darker with each additional coat you apply. You can also remove the dye by wiping it down with household bleach.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Woodtechie's profile

Woodtechie

55 posts in 1097 days


#7 posted 12-08-2014 12:29 AM

Yeah I obviously need to do some more research on dyes. Original question was more directed at why we’d use another type of stain over gel stain, but I was neglecting to consider dyes at all. With my typical preferences it sounds like dyes might be a better choice most of the time.

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1062 posts in 1455 days


#8 posted 12-08-2014 07:29 PM

I use Transtint dyes. Jeff Jewitt, the originator of Transtint dyes, has some very useful info here on his website http://homesteadfinishingproducts.com/ and his books are excellent, as are Bob Flexner’s. Target Coatings has an excellent waterborne dye base WR4000 as well as premixed colors. It is a BLO water emulsion that gives the look of BLO but dries much faster and is compatible with water or solvent based finishes.

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

2410 posts in 1980 days


#9 posted 12-08-2014 09:28 PM

I use oil based stains and dyes. I would never consider a gel stain. Hate them. If you have a corner, it will stick in the corner.
One other biggie with dyes and oil stains:
The guitar is an air brushed on Behlen Sea Blue Dye thinned with 50% acetone on flame maple on the pickguard, and plain maple on the headstock, with my logo epoxied on after the Tru-Oil finish. Can your gel do this?
The burst on the guitar jewelry box was done with an air brush, 50% lacquer thinner as a solvent, using Minwax Jacobean.
FYI, I use a $9.99 (after coupon), Harbor Freight air brush. The purple one…
Works great. I have a dedicated air line coming off my air compressor that is set at 40 lbs. This is why I don’t use gel.

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

View Woodtechie's profile

Woodtechie

55 posts in 1097 days


#10 posted 12-09-2014 01:12 AM

Air brushed—that’s great! Totally forgot about that kind of thing.

So much for being lazy I guess (yet another area I’ll be a perma-amateur at).

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

1062 posts in 1455 days


#11 posted 12-09-2014 01:57 AM

Depending on the size/precision of shading or fading, an airbrush is not required. It can be accomplished with a good full size gun. Here are part of my kitchen cabinets. My gun is capable of much lighter and smaller amount of shading than this. These oak cabinets started life with a honey oak finish.

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