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Staining Maple is crushing my spirits

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Forum topic by teejay posted 06-17-2009 01:05 AM 24860 views 12 times favorited 70 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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teejay

95 posts in 2728 days


06-17-2009 01:05 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question maple finishing

I decided that I would build the armoire, changing table/dresser, and crib for my sons room. This is by far the biggest woodworking undertaking I’ve ever attempted. Building the armoire went quite well then I started staining… and it all went horribly wrong.

I will post some pictures later, but the armoire was very blotchy. So I sanded it down with 150 grit, used Bullseye stain sealer mixed 1:1 with Denatured alcohol to seal the wood, applied the stain, and added 2 coats of poly. It cleaned it up a bit but it still is not what I want.

Now I’ve moved on to the dresser. Its built, (build went well) and then the staining happened, I did the same thing with the sealer and some of the rails ended up reddish. So I sanded all off, raised the grain with water and put on a coat of stain. Now I’m waiting to see how it looks…

Basically, I don’t mind resanding and refinishing the first 2 pieces, they are mostly flat, but I want to have this figured out by the time I make the crib. I want that to be uniform.

Should I just spend $80 on a cheaper sprayer and spray dye first? then spray stain, and maybe add toner to the finish?

What is the process you all personally use? I had been using MINWAX b/c that was the sample color my wife liked. I read that mixing dyes worked well and that spraying was the only way to go.

I really want the crib to be uniform and nicely finished. Also, what finish should I use for the crib considering the baby will try to bite it? Salad bowl??

thanks in advance
TJ


70 replies so far

View cabinetmaster's profile

cabinetmaster

10874 posts in 3020 days


#1 posted 06-17-2009 01:28 AM

I always sand through 4 steps, 120,150,180,220. Then I apply my stain by wiping or brushing. I never spray a stain. I do a small area and then wipe it off, applying more stain if it needs to be darker. I then let the stain thoroughly dry before applying a finish. I will spray a sealer and finish coat with the sprayer.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

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teejay

95 posts in 2728 days


#2 posted 06-17-2009 01:34 AM

I stopped at 150 b/c I was told that the finer grits would close the pores and make it harder to accept the stain.
I tried adding more coats but the color will not get any richer for me. My wife really wants it in a nice espresso brown, but I cannot get it there with my current efforts.

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cabinetmaster

10874 posts in 3020 days


#3 posted 06-17-2009 01:41 AM

150 is fine for paint but we always sand to 220 in our workplace. The stain will be more even when you sand to these grits. Sometimes we will stop at 180 but most of the time we go to 220. Did you try to satin it darker while the stain was still wet?

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

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teejay

95 posts in 2728 days


#4 posted 06-17-2009 01:58 AM

I sanded to 220 the first time and some of the areas didn’t take the stain at all and stayed very blonde, then a guy at a local shop here said that was too fine and suggested the 150.

I stained it with multiple coats according to the directions (4 – 6hrs set up before 2nd coat). I tried to load it up and let it sit then wipe it clean, but it won’t take the stain (minwax oil based red mahogany, btw)

thanks for the help. Your projects are awesome.

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teejay

95 posts in 2728 days


#5 posted 06-17-2009 02:00 AM

I found this article and he says to follow this format:
1. Use a dye to establish a uniform base color
2. Stain and/or glaze to build the color
3. Tone/Shade to add color and depth as well as improve uniformity

The results on the page look really good, I just was trying to avoid buying a sprayer if at all possible.

View Frankie Talarico Jr.'s profile

Frankie Talarico Jr.

353 posts in 2818 days


#6 posted 06-17-2009 02:05 AM

150 is also fine if your sanding softer hardwoods that tend to stain uniformly (walnut, mahogony). Others such as birch, maple, and cherry often look best with a final 220. then put a 1:1 mixture of solvent to sealer depending on your finish. wipe on wipe off, let it dry good. if the 220 is really killing the color try 180 grit. I know tricks where you tone the project first to make a uniform color then stain.

Try making a step board. this way you can sample different techniques without harming the actual piece.

-- Live by what you believe, not what they want you to believe.

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teejay

95 posts in 2728 days


#7 posted 06-17-2009 02:22 AM

Should I just go ahead and buy a sprayer and use the method of dye, stain, tone? as suggested above? I really don’t want to keep sanding this stuff off. Also, any suggestions on dyes or the cheapest place to get them?

thanks

View teenagewoodworker's profile

teenagewoodworker

2727 posts in 3230 days


#8 posted 06-17-2009 02:41 AM

maybe you should step away from the minwax. not really the best product. and since you dont have a spray gun i would say that you would be best using a gell stain. check out general finishes and bartley. the gell stain is made to sit on top instead of soak in so it wont really blotch. waterbased stains will do that same but they dry fast and should really be sprayed. i know that general finishes has an espresso gel stain and then just follow up with some of general finishes gel topcoat. dont use a regular poly because regular poly wants to be absorbed and the gel stain will seal the surface.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3561 days


#9 posted 06-17-2009 02:41 AM

I sand my maple projects to 220 and use Sherwin Williams BAC wiping stains. I do not experience the blotchy effect that Minwax creates.

You can see the effect in my most recent project which includes a curly maple table. No blotchy effect here.

Click for details

The stain is wiped on with a rag. The finish is a catalyzed varnish but I also use pre-cat lacquers to the same effect.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View mtkate's profile

mtkate

2049 posts in 2787 days


#10 posted 06-17-2009 03:10 AM

Teejay – I feel your pain. I did my first project recently with hardwood (an oak frame where the inside is hard maple – I have to post the project). I read everything I could about finishing maple because I was pretty comfortable with oak having refinished many pieces of furniture already.

I sanded the pieces of maple down to 320. I used a wood conditioner (minwax prestain wood conditioner) and let it rest for 24 hours. Then I tried a gel stain (brand was varathane – red mahogany also because I love that stain), carefully wiped on with a rag. BAM!!! Blotchies. I was so disappointed with myself.

Todd, is Sherwin Williams BAC wiping stain a water or oil based stain? I looked it up on the web but the product info is not clear. Did you pre-treat your pieces or go to stain directly? Your finishing looks beautiful to me. I want to give that a shot.

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mtkate

2049 posts in 2787 days


#11 posted 06-17-2009 03:27 AM

Ummm. I just read that Sherwin-Williams are makers of Min-Wax. I assume they are just another grade by the same company?

View ralmand's profile

ralmand

162 posts in 2764 days


#12 posted 06-17-2009 03:37 AM

OOH Boy…this is what I fear will happen to me on my 1st furniture project that I am engaged in. I am building a table out of red oak. The design and build is going well, but I DREAD the finishing portion of it. I have a HVLP sprayer that I bought for my project, but am afraid of the procedures to use. I hope your project turns out for you. I will be keeping an eye on your progress. PLEASE share what you learn. Good Luck

-- Randy, Allen Texas

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3561 days


#13 posted 06-17-2009 03:41 AM

Success in a project is arrived at in equal parts of skills, equipment, and products. The sprayer will not help in this situation unless you are using it in toning.

One of my first recommendations is to stop using Minwax. I have to make money so I use the Sherwin BAC wiping stain. It is available to anybody not just the pros.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View teejay's profile

teejay

95 posts in 2728 days


#14 posted 06-17-2009 05:22 AM

So if I go with the Sherwin Williams wiping stains what should I use as a finish? I’m going for a darker espresso color so I was unsure if the stain alone will get it dark enough as some parts of the maple refuse to accept the stain, thats why I was considering doing some dye first.

Thanks for all the help. Once I get it figured out I will put some pictures up.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3561 days


#15 posted 06-17-2009 06:27 AM

Dye can turn out blotchy as well as the stain. If stain takes unevenly in the wood, so can dye.

They (Sherwin) will have a color that you can use and they will make a quart or gallon of whatever you need. The real point here has less to do with brand and more to do with home grade products compared to pro-grade products. I use both Sherwin and ML Campbell finishes. They are formulated to perform and make me money as a professional. But these products are available to everyone.

I use my last table as an example because I used the BAC black walnut stain on it and it took the stain just fine. What you have to understand is that these stains behave and perform differently than Minwax or Behr.

After staining, I seal it with the finish. Now I can see the color that I have because the finish makes the grain and stain color “pop.” If I want it darker I start toning. I add dye to a very thinned down version of the finish. When I spray the toner mix it dries almost immediately because it is so thin. I mix less than a quart if I need to tone the finish, that always seems to get me done. Toning goes fast and is easy.

What I am doing now is adding layers of color until I reach the desired shade. It will not obscure the grain, this adds color but is still transparent enough to see the grain.

Once the color is achieved, I put an appropriate amount of clear topcoat on.

After the final coat, I use a worn out soft sanding sponge and sand it out. The term sanding is used loosely here because I am not really scratching the surface. Then I buff it with a soft rag, turning and shaking it out frequently. For this final buffing I am really just getting off any dry spray and a rag alone usually does the trick.

I do not use wax or anything else on the finish. It is good to go and will last for years. Even on my older projects where I used polyurethane I have never used anything else to finish it off. The film finish is the final treatment. Wax is a good compliment to shellac because shellac does not have the durability that many other finishes have.

What I really like about lacquers is that I can apply 3 coats in 60 to 90 minutes. With BAC wiping stains they can be topcoated in 30 to 40 minutes. Minwax requires 24 hours to dry before topcoating. I approach this from a business production viewpoint. But if you have a job and are burning your evenings and weekends on these projects, you really need to be using them to save your time. It is not like they are prohibitively expensive.

With these fast dry times you have less open time on the finish and you will experience less contaminates in the finish. You do not need a hermetically sealed room.

Another great benefit of lacquers is that they are very repairable because each coat burns or melts into the previous layers to create the bond.

This also means that the only thing that you should do to care for your furniture is to wipe it with a damp cloth. You want to keep from contaminating the surface with polishes, waxes, or silicones. These will not allow you to easily repair the finish.

I made this mahogany table and after 4 years I took it in the shop and did some repairs on the scratches and put another coat of finish on it and it looked like the day that I made it. This was possible because we did not contaminate the surface. We only use a damp rag to dust our furniture.

Click for details

Keep it simple.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

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