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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I would like advice on the best way to stain Alder and Cherry. I'm working on a dining room hutch that I've made out of Alder but with purchased, unfinished Cherry doors and drawer fronts. I'm afraid of blotching with some stains. I've heard I should dye the wood first, then seal it, then use a pigment stain. I'd like to hear from someone with experience with these woods. Also would like to know best stain products to use. Thanks.
 

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Welcome JonLewis!

Someone is going to chime in here with a ton more experience in this area than I.

I've grown fond of the Bartley gel stains and varnish FWIW. I find them easy to control and easy to correct if I goof. But that's not what prompted me to jump in here.

I have a nephew named Jon Lewis. His father is a rough carpenter by trade and both enjoy woodworking. Had to do a double-take to make sure you weren't him. Don't live in Michigan, do ya? :laughing:
 

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I don't have a lot of experience with stains / finishes but the last few projects I've done, I've learned by trial and error that you should wipe down your work first with a damp cloth to open up the pores of the wood ... it will show any imperfections in the wood (IE glue spots) and helps the stain take better to the wood. As far as stain's go I've been playing around with gel stain's lately and I really like the way they cover on ash and birch.

don't know if it's much help but it's my 2 cents:huh:
 

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Welcome JonLewis,
I have been working with Alder quite extensively as of late and found that the brand Penchrome has deeper penetrating into Alder and doesn't produce a blochy color. I finish up with a Zinsser Quick 15 Gloss that I spray through my HVLP sprayer. 3 quick coats and a sanding in between of 400, 800, 1000 grit papers (9 to 15 coats total) for a bullet proof finish.

Scott A. Mordecki/ Nailgunner7
fallentimber.mysite.com
 

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Im new to this forum,just got on today,as a friend said sometime back i was a topic of discussion,didnt find it,but thats ok,and in looking around found your question,both alder and cherry are very blotch prone,and a dye is going to blotch it worse than anything,it goes in very deep ,a pigment stain with a "wash coat" will help you get even color, for me a good water base stain is best,I use General finishes and have superb results,it happens that i do some youtube stuff, and on monday we are putting out one on this very subject,it may be something you would like to see,a picture is worth a thousand words,we have some youtube stuff up now on finishing and other things,so if you wish you can go to youtube.com and search under woodworking and you will find me ,my user name is intheworkshop,maybe there is something there that will help, but as stated monday we are doing the splotching thing and cherry is a main focus,hope this isnt to forward for a new member
 

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I agree with Charles, a washcoat will minimize the blotchiness of cherry, and it's actually recommended in the AWI Quality Standards manual.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for all the input.
Charles - I really appreciated pointing me to your YouTube presentations. Just watched your 8 min talk on finishing in general and totally agree. I've been woodworking for 30+ years and only now have come to appreciate what you say about needing to know as much about finishing as knowing about building. I've got a lot to learn. Have not yet seen your new YouTube talk on staining cherry - assume it's still coming. Can you tell me more about how to use a washcoat with a water-based stain? Would shellac cut 50-50 with alchohol be a good washcoat? Would that go on before the water-based stain or visa-versa? Thanks for any more tips.
- Jon
 

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Would shellac cut 50-50 with alchohol be a good washcoat? Would that go on before the water-based stain or visa-versa? Thanks for any more tips.
- Jon
I use a 1lb cut of clear shellac (or amber if I want that tint) to seal alder, birch and cherry. It should go on first, and use a 0000 steel wool (or the white 3M pad; water-based and steel don't get along) on it to remove any nibs.

I like gel stains because you can control them easier.
 

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It might be a little late, but if you are blending cherry and alder, I would recommend using a toner and then spray stain.

I have been using water based toners and water based spray stains from ICA in Italy for about the last 8 years and to me nothing gives a more appealing look on those woods along with Maple,Poplar,Birch etc.


It is a little trickier because you build the color on top of the wood so you need to be consistent in the number of coats, how fast you are moving the gun and how far you are from the surface. It is in many ways similar to spraying automotive candy colors in that respect but when done properly the look is very impressive.
 

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I use alder quite a bit and if I'm changing the color dramatically, use a wiping stain. I was using an oil based that I'd have mixed by a local professional paint store but have switched to solvent based M.L. Campbell. The oil based is simpler and more available but you'll have to let it sit for several days then seal it with dewaxed shellac before topcoating.
 

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I agree with the sanding sealer applied before staining, especially with penetrating stains. You may be able to just wash the surface with alcohol or even lacquer thinner to stabilize and condition the wood to accept the stain. Sand with 220 after wash. If you use a pigmented stain, lightly spray the area before coating with a brush or applicator. If you are going to spray anyway, then it doesn't matter.
 
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