Are all wood conditioners created equal - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 Old 07-28-2010, 09:47 PM Thread Starter
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Are all wood conditioners created equal

I'm going to have to stain a good amount of soft maple for trim and baseboard, doors, etc.... BIG project coming my way.

Is there one wood conditioner that's better than another? I have shellac sealer and I've tried the Minwax brand of wood conditioner.

The shellac didn't reduce the blotching very much but greatly reduced the darkness of the stain on the surface.

The Minwax didn't seem to make much difference in blotching or darkness, no matter much much I flooded it on and let it soak in.

BTW I am using a gel stain. Any recommendations?
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post #2 of 10 Old 07-28-2010, 10:56 PM
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First, sand to 180 grit or possibly 220 grit but nothing finer. This should help with the blotching.

If you can't get a lighter color stain to suit your purposes, then perhaps a helper. You apply and they wipe, about a foot behind you. Quick on, quick off.

Most gel stains tend to be overbearing and sometimes just like paint. You could try applying and wiping quickly with a thinner saturated rag. This could be another helper thing.

If you are where you can spray, thin some Polyshades with distilled water. If you are staining before installation this is probably your best solution even if you have to buy a cheap HPLV unit. I have applied Polyshades with a brush but that was an almost disaster. With a brush it is an apply once and don't go back.

Use the right tool for the job.

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post #3 of 10 Old 07-28-2010, 11:31 PM Thread Starter
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Well, the rag saturated with thinner would make the color too light. I'm going for a medium reddish brown which I had the stain mixed for and I have tried this method.

Because Minwax tends to get a lot of frowns from woodworkers I thought maybe a wood conditioner from a higher end brand name would work better. Has anyone used one they can recommend?

I already own an HVLP but I've tried spraying toned topcoats (similar to Polyshades) and I don't have the technique or experience to get an even color, especially on something like the newel posts I am making right now, with a lot of profiles to cover.
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post #4 of 10 Old 07-29-2010, 04:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichO View Post

Because Minwax tends to get a lot of frowns from woodworkers I thought maybe a wood conditioner from a higher end brand name would work better. Has anyone used one they can recommend?

There is a Minwax conditioner for oil base stains and one for waterbase stains. Maybe you used the wrong one.






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post #5 of 10 Old 07-29-2010, 08:10 AM
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Most premixed off the shelf wood conditioners are typically nothing more than ultra thinned varnish. So, it's my humble opinion to just mix your own and test on scrap until you find a mixture that works for you. It's FAR cheaper that way. What I've found that I like to use on soft woods that tend to be blotchy when stained like Pine, Poplar, Maple etc, is to make a 1/2 or 1 pound cut of shellac. I then sand lightly after each wash coat with #220 (anywhere between one and three wash coats depending on the wood) and then stain. If you're going to use a gel stain (another good idea IMHO if you are wiping rather than spraying the stain on this type of wood), then I HIGHLY recommend the GENERAL FINISHES gel stain. It's by far the smoothest and most consistant gel stain I've tried. It's ultra thick (almost like yougart) and is very easy to work with.

As always, test, test, test on pieces of scrap first. I write each step in the finishing schedule right on the back of the scrap. That way, when I find one that I like, I have a repeatable finishing schedule already in place.

FWIW.... on one project I did several years ago on some Poplar, I sanded initially down to #220 (started at #120, then #150, #180 and finally #220). I then applied three coats of a 1/2 pound cut of shellac, sanding lightly with #220 after each wash coat. I then did a coat of GF gel stain in the primary color I wanted followed by a tone coat of transtint dye dissolved in DNA, then finished with a couple of coats of varnish. It was a major PITA on the six panel doors, but the doors and molding came out beautifully with very, very little blotching. Everyone who came and looked at the house when I put it on the market, commented on the "beautiful" woodwork.
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post #6 of 10 Old 07-29-2010, 10:43 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
There is a Minwax conditioner for oil base stains and one for waterbase stains. Maybe you used the wrong one.
No it was definitely the oil based variety.

For the actual interior doors I am willing to go a few extra steps since they will be the most noticeable of anything, but for the trim and newel posts with all the profiles, multiple coats of shellac with sanding in between is about as PITA as you get. Just building the newel posts is one of the most labor intensive and tedious woodworking projects I've ever done.



I've heard good things about General Finishes gel stain before but I wanted a specific color and Woodcraft doesn't let you come in with a board and test out the colors. Those sample boards they provide are never accurate to what it will look like on your project.
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post #7 of 10 Old 07-30-2010, 08:17 AM
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You might try Rockler if you've got one in your area. I've not been to the one I typically go to in a while, but they always used to let you bring in boards and try their samples. Or, you can buy the gel stains in the half pints to try them out at home. In that size you can pick up several and not break the bank.
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post #8 of 10 Old 07-30-2010, 09:49 PM
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I've heard good things about General Finishes gel stain before but I wanted a specific color and Woodcraft doesn't let you come in with a board and test out the colors. Those sample boards they provide are never accurate to what it will look like on your project.
As it has been said, go to a Rockler store. When I worked at Rockler we would not allow the customer to get their fingers dirty testing stain, we would do it for them.

I would go home with stained fingers and LOML would say, "Color matching stain again?"

Use the right tool for the job.

Rich (Tilting right)
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post #9 of 10 Old 07-31-2010, 01:14 AM Thread Starter
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I wish I could go to a Rockler store but the closest one is 2 hours away. There is a Woodcraft not too far away and they carry GF but the question is will they stick their fingers in the can? I suppose it doesn't hurt to bring in a piece of maple and ask.
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post #10 of 10 Old 10-15-2010, 02:56 PM
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the best wood conditioner is mineral spirits for both water and oil. gel stain is also the best way to go.
wipe your gel on wipe off then dilute you gel with spirits about 30% and tone your wood in light coats, untill you get the depth you want
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