Help! Help! Help! Wood Stain Problem

Old 02-04-06, 10:46 PM
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Question Help! Help! Help! Wood Stain Problem

My husband andI ae making a hope chest for our daughter. We bought Aspen wood for the project. I am using gel stain in Java color which is a very dark walnut type color. The problem is this, evidently I got a little carried away with my 230 grit sand paper. Anyway, I have these light spots where I guess I over-sanded. Now, in spite of repeated applications of the stain, the spots look much lighter than the surrounding wood. This is the lid to the box so it can't be hidden inside. Please, please thell me there's something I can do. Would it help to sand it with a larger grit sandpaper, stain and then re-sand with the 230?

I am so frustrated. If I can't fix this, I may just have to go buy another piece of wood, which I'd rather not, of course.
Old 02-05-06, 07:34 AM
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Here's my opinion: The problem is not the sanding, nor the light spots. The problem is that the rest of the wood accepted too much pigment. It has to do with the density of the wood, not really with the amount that you have sanded. The porous wood, which is a softer, faster growth part of the wood, has got more pigment down into the pores of the wood, while the harder, slower growing areas are tighter grained and pigment cannot settle into the pores as well.

Wood conditioner (which is basically like a natural color stain) would have "helped" even out these differences, and would actually have made the entire project lighter- more like the light areas than the dark. By basting the wood with wood conditioner until it has soaked in as much conditioner as it can, you are actually prestaining the wood so that it will not absorb the next coat (your stain) like a sponge. It's too late for that now, unless you can sand all the stain off and start over.

Something else I just learned is that you can purchase a spray can of shellac, and lightly spray the entire surface with shellac, then come back and stain. The shellac actually helps prevent too much stain from settling in the pores of the wood.

A similar method would include sealing the wood prior to staining. Sealer can be thinned 50% with thinner, and applied to the wood to accomlish the same thing- to partially seal the wood so that it does not accept as much stain, which actually will result in a more even color.

If you need the project to be dark, another option to using stain (which is pigment based) is to use a dye. Dyes actually color the wood in the same manner that our clothes are colored. Dye will give wood an even consistant base color, but will not bring out the "grain pattern", since it colors everything evenly. Once the Dye gives the wood the desired depth of color, an application of stain can then add additional colors to the wood.

Obviously, all of these sorts of techniques would need to be practiced on a scrap piece of wood before attempting them on your project. Far too many people think they can just open up a can of stain and put it on their project and expect that it's going to turn out just like the sample on the front of the can. Sadly, it doesn't work that way, and they often ruin their projects as a result of not testing their stain on a sample. It's something simple that ought to be done every time you stain an unfamiliar type of wood.
Old 02-05-06, 09:12 AM
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I would try to go back over those spots with a polystain, and blend them in that way. I've never used conditioner w/gel stain, just penatrating stains, but Xsleeper is speaking the truth. But, hindsight, a polystain(i think) is about your only other option.

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