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I got an Ikea Beech wood butcher block to use for a desk top. I wanted to stain it slightly darker. Did test patches on the underside:

I sanded the wood with 100 and 250, used Minwax wood conditioner and Minwax Early American stain. The result was that the stain coloured the grain very dark, but did not stain the rest of the surface, the result was a very high contrasted almost burnt looking wood with black grain.

I tried different versions leaving stain on for 5min and 25min, and got the same result each time.
I experimented with the length of time the wood conditioner was left on- anywhere from 15min to overnight, when it was left longer, the black was slightly less, but still very contrasted. The photos show the different lengths of time the wood conditioner was left on, the darkest one being the shortest time.
 

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Beech is a wood that stains very unevenly. Each piece of wood will absorb more or less stain and the color will be uneven. The darker the stain that is used, the more uneven the coloring will be.
 

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Thanks! Good to know.. do you think a gel stain would work better? Or would it be best to abandon the stain and just use Danish oil?
 

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Gel stain tends to stay on the surface of the wood. They do not penetrate to any great extent. It's this reduced absorption that reduces the color and color variation.

Personally, I would never use a pigment stain on a wood like beech. It will be particularly problematic on a surface constructed with different colored species of beech. A stain will emphasize the differences in color.
 
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