Furniture Refinishing 8 - Staining Furniture Refinishing 8 - Staining

Margin of Error: Apply stain properly to create even coloration.

Most Common Mistake

  1. Leaving the stain on too long - five minutes is a sufficient test time. You can always apply more.

It is your personal preference whether or not to stain. Many people prefer the natural colors of mahogany, cherry, rosewood, teak oak, and maple. Staining is used to enrich the grain pattern of the wood or to darken the overall tone. Stains must always be applied prior to the finishing seal. Whether staining or just applying a clear finish, provide for adequate ventilation and lighting.

Take the time to test the stains and finishes on your wood. Species of wood react differently to stains and finishes. If it is a chest of drawers you are working with, test on the inside surfaces of the drawers. This will also seal against moisture and cut down on swelling and cracking.

Tip: To find out what wood look like without stain but just with a clear finish, wet a section of it with mineral spirits. It dries quickly without raising the grain.

Decide on a stain color by testing different shades on a portion of the piece that would not be seen - on the inside of a chair frame, under the seat, or inside a drawer. After choosing the stain, apply it evenly to the clean, dry wood. Use a natural bristle brush, which works the stain into carvings and corners easier than a rag.

Be sure you cover every inch of the raw wood. The longer you leave the stain on, the deeper it will penetrate and the darker the final color will be. For control, leave the stain on no more than five minutes at a time. You can always add more.

Remove the excess stain with a clean rag. A good way to be sure you have removed all of the excess is to wipe it once again across the grain with another clean rag. If there are no streaks, it's clean.

Allow the stain to completely dry before continuing.

Applying the Sealer

Most Common Mistakes
  1. Not letting the sealer dry before applying the next coat.

A sanding sealer should be applied after a stain. This is a transparent sealer put on the wood to firm up the fuzz of wood fibers which stick up after stripping and sanding. Sanding sealer was invented to solve the problem of shellac and varnish. It is also a solution to long drying times between varnish layers. (Apply one coat of sanding sealer and one coat of varnish.) Let the sealer dry overnight.

This sealer will make it easier to sand the wood smoother the next day, prior to applying the final finishing coat. Use an orbital sander and the various sanding shapes with a 220-grit sandpaper. The smoother the finish the longer it will last, because of less friction in cleaning and less places where dirt can lodge.

Go over the piece with a vacuum and tack cloth before continuing.

Warning: Sanding sealer is not meant to be used before a polyurethane finish. Polyurethane will not adhere to the sealer and will peel off.

Tip: Do not use sanding sealer before using a polyurethane finish. The polyurethane will not adhere to the sealer and will peel off.

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