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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I have taken it upon myself to undergo my first staining project by staining my pedalboard (seen here).

The board itself is baltic birch ply that has been sanded very smooth. I already have my materials (Minwax Polyshade in Bombay Mahogany satin), but I have a few questions about the actual procedure itself.

-I want to stain the entire board (top, bottom, sides, etc.). Do these steps have to be done separately, or can they all be done at once? If so, how? Do I have to hang the board?

-What would be the best way to stain the many holes in this board?

-Is there anything special I need to know about sanding the board between coats of stain? Is it as simple as it sounds? They suggest sanding it with 0000 steel wool between each coat.

Any other tips for a first timer would be appreciated!
 

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Village Idiot
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I can see one glaring problem; You shouldnt apply multiple coats of stain, and you really shouldnt sand the stain.

That said, polyshades isnt so much a stain as it is a tinted polyurethane. Never bothered using it myself, but it does seem to have a reputation as being a pain in the rear to get looking good. Reason being, any area where the thickness of the finish varies the color will also vary, so it really needs to be sprayed.

For a first stain job, id recommend something a little easier to apply, like a regular oil-based stain, or possibly a gel stain, followed by a more traditional top-coat. Probably get better results
 

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That's going to be an incredibly difficult project to do with polyshades. I don't know how you can brush the finish on the holes, the edges and the face of it, especially underneath the upper level and get it uniform. You would at least get drip marks on the underside on the holes and edges. That project really needs to be stained and a clear finish sprayed on it. There is a problem though with staining birch getting blotchy. It would need to be pre-treated with a wood conditioner.

If you are intent on brushing the polyshade finish. Brush a wet coat on everything and take a rag and wipe it off. The colorant in the polyshade will stain the wood somewhat. Then take a little brush and finish just the holes and the edges. Once that is done finish the back side and the under side of the upper level. Brush the finish on as thin as you can with as few strokes as possible with the softest brush you can find and if possible check and see if any finish has ran to the front side. When the finish is dry lightly sand the finish with 220 grit or finer paper and repeat the process until you get the finish you desire. Then when it has dried a couple days turn it over finish the top side the same way.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I can see one glaring problem; You shouldnt apply multiple coats of stain, and you really shouldnt sand the stain.

That said, polyshades isnt so much a stain as it is a tinted polyurethane. Never bothered using it myself, but it does seem to have a reputation as being a pain in the rear to get looking good. Reason being, any area where the thickness of the finish varies the color will also vary, so it really needs to be sprayed.

For a first stain job, id recommend something a little easier to apply, like a regular oil-based stain, or possibly a gel stain, followed by a more traditional top-coat. Probably get better results
I see.

I've read in numerous places that A) you should you apply multiple coats of stain, wiping off excess stain with before each coat, and B) you should sand with fine grain paper/steel wool between each coat. These are exactly country to what you said, so who should I believe?

I got the polystain because I wanted something that I could do in one shot for my first stain project. So, you think a spray would be a better bet? Or would you suggest a regular oil-based stain or gel stain?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That's going to be an incredibly difficult project to do with polyshades. I don't know how you can brush the finish on the holes, the edges and the face of it, especially underneath the upper level and get it uniform. You would at least get drip marks on the underside on the holes and edges. That project really needs to be stained and a clear finish sprayed on it. There is a problem though with staining birch getting blotchy. It would need to be pre-treated with a wood conditioner.

If you are intent on brushing the polyshade finish. Brush a wet coat on everything and take a rag and wipe it off. The colorant in the polyshade will stain the wood somewhat. Then take a little brush and finish just the holes and the edges. Once that is done finish the back side and the under side of the upper level. Brush the finish on as thin as you can with as few strokes as possible with the softest brush you can find and if possible check and see if any finish has ran to the front side. When the finish is dry lightly sand the finish with 220 grit or finer paper and repeat the process until you get the finish you desire. Then when it has dried a couple days turn it over finish the top side the same way.
I forgot to mention one critical point: the board disassembles into two separate pieces of wood, like this. I think this should be fairly manageable.

Wood conditioner, good call. I'll have to get some of that.

If I can hang the boards like this, would I be able to stain all sides at once?

Also, the other user in this form suggested that I should not apply multiple coats of stain, or sand the stain. Whose advice should I follow?
 

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That would make a big difference being able to take the two separate pieces apart. Still something with holes in it tends to get the stain and the finish run down one side or another. Using poly be sure to watch for runs for more than an hour after doing it.

It would be alright to hang the boards like that to stain them. It would be better if you could use a stiff enough wire that it would go straight through the hole instead of making a loop. It depends on the stain. If it's a wood stain you should not apply multiple coats. The binder in stain isn't enough to properly bond to the wood and anything allowed to dry on the surface can easily cause adhesion problems. The finish would stick to the stain instead of the wood. A gel stain on the other hand is more like the polyshades. It has a binder that will adhere. It was originally developed to stain wood textured fiberglass doors to make them look more like wood.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
That would make a big difference being able to take the two separate pieces apart. Still something with holes in it tends to get the stain and the finish run down one side or another. Using poly be sure to watch for runs for more than an hour after doing it.

It would be alright to hang the boards like that to stain them. It would be better if you could use a stiff enough wire that it would go straight through the hole instead of making a loop. It depends on the stain. If it's a wood stain you should not apply multiple coats. The binder in stain isn't enough to properly bond to the wood and anything allowed to dry on the surface can easily cause adhesion problems. The finish would stick to the stain instead of the wood. A gel stain on the other hand is more like the polyshades. It has a binder that will adhere. It was originally developed to stain wood textured fiberglass doors to make them look more like wood.
That's really helpful. I went to the hardware store and returned a few things. Now I'm working with a basic oil-based stain, and separate semi-gloss polyurethane finish.

If I end up hanging the board while I stain it, would it be wise to stain a side, wait a few minutes, wipe off the excess stain, and then repeat for each side? Once I do each face and the sides, I'll use a small foam brush to do the holes.

Also, I think the confusion I expressed previously regarding sanding had to do with sanding between coats of polyurethane, not between coats of stain. According to the manufacturer of the board, he suggests sanding with very fine steel wool between each coat of polyurethane.

I hope the project goes well! Any other tips would be appreciated!
 

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Village Idiot
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I see.

I've read in numerous places that A) you should you apply multiple coats of stain, wiping off excess stain with before each coat, and B) you should sand with fine grain paper/steel wool between each coat. These are exactly country to what you said, so who should I believe?

I got the polystain because I wanted something that I could do in one shot for my first stain project. So, you think a spray would be a better bet? Or would you suggest a regular oil-based stain or gel stain?
I'd love to know who told you to apply stain like that. You apply a finish, polyurethane for example, in that manner, but not stain.
 

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That's really helpful. I went to the hardware store and returned a few things. Now I'm working with a basic oil-based stain, and separate semi-gloss polyurethane finish.

If I end up hanging the board while I stain it, would it be wise to stain a side, wait a few minutes, wipe off the excess stain, and then repeat for each side? Once I do each face and the sides, I'll use a small foam brush to do the holes.

Also, I think the confusion I expressed previously regarding sanding had to do with sanding between coats of polyurethane, not between coats of stain. According to the manufacturer of the board, he suggests sanding with very fine steel wool between each coat of polyurethane.

I hope the project goes well! Any other tips would be appreciated!
When you stain you can stain all of it at the same time. Allow the stain to soak in only a minute or so and wipe off everything left on the surface. With another clean cloth you can handle the part and put it on your hanger. I say handle the part with a cloth because staining is messy and you usually have some stain on your hands and end up leaving finger prints from handling it with dirty paws. The reason I said try to make the wire where it didn't touch the face of it is it cuts the air off to the part as the stain is drying. What usually happens is that spot goes darker so you might see a line where the wire touched the wood.

One other thing I forgot to mention is a wood conditioner is a sealer so you may have to purchase a darker stain than you think. With the conditioner on the wood it won't stain as dark as if you applied it to raw wood. Try the finish procedure on a piece of scrap wood with the conditioner and without and you will see. You need to test the finish procedure anyway. Some woods like birch, maple and pine vary in density from place to place and will absorb more stain than the harder spots. Then you look at the overall project and see dark blotches here and there. The wood conditioner tends to make the surface more uniform because the soft spots will absorb more of the conditioner than the hard spots.
 

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Yep it was my misunderstanding (see above). This is what I get for never having done this before, haha.
There is some professional finishers that say you can stain twice. To me that is just asking for trouble. You just can't allow the stain to dry on the surface and if you stain twice you run the risk of leaving some. I had a guy working for me one time that if the wood didn't stain dark enough for him he would put the stain in a sprayer and spray a light coat on and just let it sit and dry. I finally fired him because I didn't want to warranty the work he was doing. I think I only had to re-do one chair he did though. What he was doing would have been alright with a dye stain. It's more like ink and wouldn't interfere with the adhesion of the finish.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
One other thing I forgot to mention is a wood conditioner is a sealer so you may have to purchase a darker stain than you think. With the conditioner on the wood it won't stain as dark as if you applied it to raw wood. Try the finish procedure on a piece of scrap wood with the conditioner and without and you will see. You need to test the finish procedure anyway. Some woods like birch, maple and pine vary in density from place to place and will absorb more stain than the harder spots. Then you look at the overall project and see dark blotches here and there. The wood conditioner tends to make the surface more uniform because the soft spots will absorb more of the conditioner than the hard spots.
I see. The manufacturer of the board said that I do not need to use a conditioner for the board (it's is raw baltic birch). Additionally, I will be using a very dark stain (Varathane's ebony), so I'm not sure how much the blotchiness would manifest in the project. Do you think I could get away with not using wood conditioner? I'm trying to keep costs down.

One more thing: There are a few small nicks in the board (which is again made of raw birch). Is it critical that I get them sanded down? What would happen if I stained the board without sanding it down?
 

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Perhaps you don't need the conditioner with ebony stain. I would try the stain on scrap and see what happens.

I would be wary of anyone that says in general you don't need a conditioner for any kind of birch.

You might fill the nick spot with a wood putty and sand it prior to staining. Any void in the wood usually sticks out with a finish on it.
 

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Perhaps you don't need the conditioner with ebony stain. I would try the stain on scrap and see what happens.

I would be wary of anyone that says in general you don't need a conditioner for any kind of birch.

You might fill the nick spot with a wood putty and sand it prior to staining. Any void in the wood usually sticks out with a finish on it.
Alright. Unfortunately, there are no scrap parts of this board, so I'll just have to take the plunge and stain it.

I'll go ahead and sand the little nicks, but I'm not too concerned. After all, this board is going to be covered in pedals, haha.

You had previously mentioned that I should only keep the stain on the board for one minute, then wipe off the excess. They way I envision myself applying the stain is to apply a thin, careful layer on all surfaces. Once I do that, if I wait one minute before taking the stain off, some parts of the board will have been exposed to the stain for considerably longer.

Would you instead recommend a faster, more liberal application of the stain on all sides of the board?
 

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The reason I said just allow the stain to sit a minute or so is some folks will stain the wood and let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes before wiping it off. That will work but the solvents soak in so deep it takes a lot longer to dry. As long as you don't allow the stain to dry on the surface the timeframe of how long it is between the when the stain is applied and wiped off isn't that critical. It won't affect the color.
 

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The reason I said just allow the stain to sit a minute or so is some folks will stain the wood and let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes before wiping it off. That will work but the solvents soak in so deep it takes a lot longer to dry. As long as you don't allow the stain to dry on the surface the timeframe of how long it is between the when the stain is applied and wiped off isn't that critical. It won't affect the color.
Oh that makes sense, I hadn't considered that. I was under the impression that the longer you left the stain on, the more pronounced the final color would be.

Also, would you suggest staining all the little holes at the same time as the other surfaces of the board, or should I wait until the rest of the board has been stained/wiped clean/dried?
 

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I would stain everything at once. If you were doing a lot of them I would probably get a pan big enough and dip the parts. That would be a lot of work doing all those little holes.
 

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I would stain everything at once. If you were doing a lot of them I would probably get a pan big enough and dip the parts. That would be a lot of work doing all those little holes.
Awesome, thanks! Hopefully this project goes smoothly. You've been a big help!
 
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