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Discussion Starter #1
We're prepping to stain mountains of hemlock for trim. Because our house is built to passive standard (read: air tight) we intended to use water-based stain.
After applying the pre-stain conditioner strictly according to the directions on the can and Minwax website, we applied the stain — again according to the directions.
It looks absolutely awful. Blotchy. Streaky. Muddy looking grain and character.
After seeing what everyone is saying about pre-stain for water-based stain, we've decided to bag the "low fume" approach and go for the oil.
I know that I cannot apply oil-based stain over water-based pre-stain (or can I? someone tell me I can ...). Is sanding going to make it all better? Am I going to have to bag these formerly gorgeous pieces of wood?
 

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hemlock is the last wood i would choose for a staining project.
your not gonna get a good stain/finish on it, now that you have a stain in it now.
 

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I've never stained Hemlock but have done several picecs of another softwood, white cedar. What has worked for me is using a 1lb cut of dewaxed shellac as a pre stain treater. The white cedar has always stained blotchy for me in the past but the shellac has worked very well. Dewaxed Shellac seems to stick just about any finish. Maybe this will help. Good luck!

Geoff
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Man, do I wish we had done more research and asking before we plunged into this particular staining adventure.

HOWEVER! It turns out that with hemlock, Minwax water-based pre stain works just fine with Minwax oil-based stain. We ran a whole bunch of tests and this ended up being the best combination. Who knew? and thank goodness.

The grain looks good, though all the beautiful character is lost. Beats repurchasing all the trim. Pictures to follow.
 
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