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I’ve been building a frame for a bathroom mirror in my parents new winter condo out of cherry of some cherry molding they picked up. They told me they’d taken taken a drawer from their vanity (also cherry) to Sherman Williams and got it color matched and had already picked out an oil based finish.


I built the mirror and applied some of Charles Neil’s blotch control on it. I’ve never worked with the stuff before. I sent them back to SW to retest a sample with the blotch control on it. They came back with an Old Master’s Gel stain instead of an oil stain. I’ve done most other finishes but never a gel and never anything from Old Master’s. So totally new stuff all around for me. The sample they didn’t wipe all the gel stain off, it’s streaked and looks a like the quick job it was, but the color is almost perfect. I assumed I could get close to that by building up many multiple coats like I’d do with an oil stain.


I wiped on a first coat on my own sample piece. It looked beautiful, no blotching at all, but the color was pretty light. After drying it was dull and lifeless but the satin topcoat would fix that. Out of curiosity I also applied the gel stain to a sample peace not treated with the blotch control. I was really surprised at how badly it blotched as I’d not expected it to do that with a gel nearly as much.


Not having a lot of time, my parents are iching to get out of the cold, I went ahead and applied it to the frame. I applied a 2nd coat to my test piece, again it looked pretty good wet. After drying though I can’t tell a difference at all in color between one coat and two. I experimented with leaving the gel on a little longer before wiping but as soon as I wipe it’s back to where I started. The color just isn’t building as I’d hoped.


Can anyone tell me what I might be doing wrong? Being a little lighter is ok, but this is way too light.
 

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the issue is that any pre-conditioner some-what seals the wood. Oil stains and especially gels seal it even more. That said the issue is that any oil based anything rarely adds much color after the inital coat, becaue the oil has sealed it off .Most of the oil based products use BLO, and it seals and doesn't allow additional coats to bite in. In reality , you have what is called a "like on like" situation , and its the worst with gels. The issue is the solvent in the stain can actually re-dissolve the first coat and pull it off. In this case because the surface is already "oiled" , getting color can be difficult if not impossible with out resanding.
The best way to handle this is to get the first coat on, let it dry well, then do a light coat of finish, let dry , then do a light scuff sand with some 600 or so. then do the gel stain again. We are using the gel as a glaze, it will deepen and enrich the color, as well as darken it . If its still not dark enough , do another light finish and repeat.We refer to this as layering the color. Its not the simplest method but works quite well.
 

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Rick Mosher
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If you really want to learn how to do nice finishes you need to add spraying stain to your bag of tricks. By spraying on a dye stain properly no blotch control or conditioner is required and the dye is much more transparent than layers of pigment. It is also much easier to get deep, dark colors.

Spraying Stain

Difference between Dye and Pigment
 

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Old School
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If you really want to learn how to do nice finishes you need to add spraying stain to your bag of tricks. By spraying on a dye stain properly no blotch control or conditioner is required and the dye is much more transparent than layers of pigment. It is also much easier to get deep, dark colors.

Spraying Stain

Difference between Dye and Pigment
+1.:yes: Spraying a dye can be done incrementally, unlike an oil stain.






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+ 1 on spraying dye. If you just have to stain, take and mix 75% water and 25% water based poly. Use this as your "conditioner", same thing as the stuff you buy. When you start trying to layer gel-stain you're going to cover grain patterns and it will begin to look like paint. I have never used a "conditioner" with an oil stain, never had a blotch problem. The biggest problem that most have with blotching is surface prep. The very first thing for surface prep is throw the ROS out the window, get the elbow grease out and finish up with 220 grit paper, no need to go any higher. The final finish coat is what makes it feel smooth, not the feel before you finish.
 
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