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Discussion Starter #1
After reading a few posts here, I feel like a real novice just off the turnip truck. :blink: I don't do staining much, as you will tell.
Anyway, I built up some trim around a wall partition and want to stain it. Without thinking, I used oak trim pieces. I want to use MinWax stain and mixed some Redwood with Sedona Red to get the shade I want.
I used a practice piece to test and am NOT happy. I sanded with 150 followed by 220 (as instructed) and applied the stain mix.
The problem is that the oak does not seem to be taking the stain very deep. For the darkness of the color, the wood doesn't change color very much, even after 4 coats. It IS getting darker but not as much as I would expect.
Did I do something wrong or incomplete? Is there some way to make the oak take the stain deeper?
Maybe I'm not even asking the right questions (?) ;)
Any guidance would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hmm, I wouldn't know one Oak from another. I went to the local moulding store that carries a ton of trim in several woods. I picked the oak sample (without thinking about it) because it was the board with the most complete assortment of styles. It didn't say anything about what kind of oak - just oak.
Do you mean sand it with 150 ONLY (no 220 followup)?
What would that do (trying to learn something here)?
 

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There are a few different ways you can achieve the color you want. You can mix aniline dye powders to the stain mix that you have to darken it or you could use a different brand stain. Minwax isn't the best brand anyway. The color will fade faster over time than other brands of stain. With Sherwin Williams wood classics oil stain you can add a universal tinting color to it to darken it. A better method would be to first stain the wood to majority of the color you want with an aniline or transtint dye stain and then use a oil stain to give it some warmth. The dyes are more like ink and you could feasabily stain a oak board black if you wanted. One place the dye powders are available is at Mohawk Finishing Products. Since it is dry powder it can be mailed without all the hasmat fees. Then the powders are mixed with dentured alcohol you can obtain locally.
 

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The Man
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Minwax isn't the best brand anyway.
Bingo...

Just my $0.02, but first of all a lot of the oak trim availible at the box stores is actually some sort of oak vaneer over ply or MDF. I don't know where you got your trim, but if it is not solid oak it is going to be difficult to get it to take color because the wood is only paper thin, thus it's capacity to hold stain is very very small no matter how you sand it.

Your best bet is to get a gel stain. I like to use Verathane (because its easily availible in my area). You can either add the red to the original stain OR tone your finish reddish, OR put down a 1lb cut of Shellac and use a red glaze to tone the wood.
 

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Old School
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Minwax isn't the best brand anyway. The color will fade faster over time than other brands of stain. With Sherwin Williams wood classics oil stain you can add a universal tinting color to it to darken it.
It should be stipulated that it's your opinion, unless you have certifiable proof. Minwax is a Sherwin-Williams company. Universal tint can be added to most any stain.





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Discussion Starter #9
Many thanks for the replies. Lots to think of.
First off, the trim was purchased from a store that sells ONLY trims and such items, not a box store. The trim is solid, not any kind of ply (one test is the price but you can see the ends and when it's cut).
Next, I'm not concerned with the color; I've mixed to pretty much the color I want (give or take).
As I said, my problem is getting the stain into the wood. In my ignorance, I never thought there would be a problem with the stain penetrating into the wood. I'm continuing to apply coats to the original piece just to see how much it will take to achieve the color depth I want. Maybe I should have bought alder or pine (?).
I think I'm too far along with this project to switch to the dye aspect but it does seem to be a better approach if it penetrates the wood better; could I get direction to some tutorial about the dye approach?
I am going to use another sample and try the 150 sanding to better open the wood to accept the stain. How hard should I sand the wood down - very deep or just enough to clear the top smoothness?
Is there no other way to get this stain into the wood?
I appreciate the thoughts put into my problem.
 

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The Man
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Something isn't adding up... Solid oak, even sanded to 220, should have zero problem accepting a stain. You didn't use a prestain did you?

Maybe you need to let it sit on a little longer before you wipe it back.

Alder and pine will blotch. They'd need a prestain.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I don't know what you mean by a 'pre-stain' but, as advised by MinWax, to avoid blotching or other imperfections, I put a coat of their 'Wood Conditioner' on the oak first. And, as advised, applied the stain well within their two hour window. I'm not a finisher but it seemed to me that I was applying stain to a surface already sealed with conditioner; like I was staining a surface already on the wood, not the wood itself. But - what do I know :laughing: - maybe we're wandering into staining theory here.
Are you saying that prevented the stain penetration?
Coming from a technical background, it didn't seem that the 220 would hurt anything but smooth the surface better.
I can try both ways but don't have a lot of samples to work with.
Should I try without the Wood Conditioner? Is the Oak smooth enough to not get splotch/blotchy with just straight stain?
I know everyone has an opinion but a little hard direction would be appreciated. ;)
 

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It should be stipulated that it's your opinion, unless you have certifiable proof. Minwax is a Sherwin-Williams company. Universal tint can be added to most any stain.










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I don't report opinions. I report many years first hand experience. I don't even google what I know like some. I have proof that the stain fades but I don't currently have a camera with enough resolution to show it. Just because Sherwin Williams bought the Minwax company doesn't mean the Wood Finish Stain is the same product as their Wood Classic Stain. Did you ever try to add tinting color to Minwax stain? I have. It goes straight to the bottom of the can and won't mix with the stain. I even called Minwax and talked to a technical advisor and was told the woodfinish stain isn't really a oil based stain but a oil based aniline dye.
 

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I don't know what you mean by a 'pre-stain' but, as advised by MinWax, to avoid blotching or other imperfections, I put a coat of their 'Wood Conditioner' on the oak first. And, as advised, applied the stain well within their two hour window. I'm not a finisher but it seemed to me that I was applying stain to a surface already sealed with conditioner; like I was staining a surface already on the wood, not the wood itself. But - what do I know :laughing: - maybe we're wandering into staining theory here.
Are you saying that prevented the stain penetration?
Coming from a technical background, it didn't seem that the 220 would hurt anything but smooth the surface better.
I can try both ways but don't have a lot of samples to work with.
Should I try without the Wood Conditioner? Is the Oak smooth enough to not get splotch/blotchy with just straight stain?
I know everyone has an opinion but a little hard direction would be appreciated. ;)
That is your problem. You don't use a pre-stain conditioner finishing oak as oak doesn't blotch. The prestain conditioner is for woods like maple or pine. Use the stain without the prestain conditioner. A wood conditioner is a sealer. It's like a thin coat of varnish so that is what is preventing the wood from staining.
 

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The Man
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Yup, there you go. Oak doesn't blotch. Blotching is caused by wood absorbing the stain at different rates so you get inconsistant color. Pine, maple, cherry, alder... they all blotch, and they need some sort of "pre-stain" in order to equalize the surface. Oak is a wood that absorbs the stain at the same rate, and you get a consistant color throughout. Applying a pre-stain (in the case of MinWax, an oil based wood conditioner) to oak seals it up, and then it can't take any color.

To answer your question about sanding, the finer you sand something, the more is seals up the wood. So sanding something to 220 will appear different than something sanding to 150. This is a trick you can use on endgrain... since endgrain absorbs much more stain then flat grain, you can actually sand the endgrain with 320, 400, and 600. That helps seal it up and it will appear the same as the flat grain.

That being said, I would always sand to 220. Stopping at 150 will not be as smooth.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Wow!! :eek: What a learning curve. I'll try a piece without the 'Wood Conditioner' and see how it turns out. When you know some of the basics, it all makes sense.
What Steve said about the additive settling to the bottom is true; I mixed some oil based Rosewood to the MinWas Sedona Red and I have to stir it all the time. Overnight, all the Rosewood is at the bottom in a big lump. It seems to disperse OK and I got the color I wanted on a separate piece of Dfir so it looks like I may be good to go.
When I do the sample piece w/o the 'pre-stain', I'll give some feedback here so the next 'newbie' can learn something.
I wish MinWax had said their WC didn't need to be used on Oak. When you don't know, you don't know.
Thanks to all for a lively thread !! Much help - I'll remember the site for the next time. I'll check in first before starting any finishing project. :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
 

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Minwax Wood Finish stain contains a small amount of resin (varnish) that dries to hold the color pigment onto the wood surface. At the same time it also seals the surface of the wood so applying additional coats does not lead to much (or any) change in intensity of color. Applying a different color without sanding off most of the prior color will not be productive. Absorption of the new color will be minimal because the wood pores have been sealed by the prior coat of stain.

If you plan to top coat your item with a clear coat, you must be sure you wipe off the excess stain after letting it sit on the surface for 15-20 minutes. If the excess is not wiped off, the stain will not dry properly nor will a top coat dry completely either.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Well, I'm back after some experimenting with the oak samples I have.

Howard is absolutely right - multiple coats do very, very little to add/intensify the depth of color. Three coats look pretty much like one coat. So much for that. And it, also, didn't seem to matter whether I sanded it with 150 only or followed the 150 with 220.
As I said when I started this thread, I'm not a 'stainer'.

I also realized I don't know much about the differences between woods. I have gained a distinct feeling that the oak is a VERY dense wood and does not want to accept stain very well; at least, not my MinWax/Redwood stain. Could someone verify that for me?
For future reference, what woods DO accept stain readily?

At this point, I cannot change my wood of ignorant choice (oak) as I learned all this after I purchased the trim (lots of it - pricey).
So, my next question is (drum roll): is there any Brand of stain that will penetrate this oak and give me the deep reddish/rosewood color I want? One of you mentioned Sherwin-Williams stain; I'm not beyond changing my stain (nothing has been applied to the actual trim yet) but I'm not sure I'm capable of formulating my own mixtures yet. I don't mind setting aside my current batch for some future use on pine or such if I can find something that will penetrate this hard oak. The color I have now, while ok is NOT what I would like to have as the final product.

As usual, advice and opinions gratefully accepted. Since this thread is titled: Staining Oak Trim -- it may be inspected a lot by future visitors in the quest for basic information so all thoughts will be valuable.

Many thanks. :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
 

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Softer woods accept stain easier than harder woods however they tend to blotch and give you more trouble finishing than the harder woods. Once you get it figured out you will find you can stain a hardwood just about any color you wish with better results. If you are needing to go dark with these hardwoods you should probably experiment with dyes. A dye is more similar to ink and you know with a bottle of ink you could turn the oak board black if you wished. Another thing you might try mixing stains is to get some universal tinting color. Some Sherwin Williams stores sell Cal-Tint tinting color in bottles you can just add to most stains, not Minwax though. Sherwin Williams Wood Classics stain is one you can modify with tinting color. All the stuff is is the colorant like the paint store have in their machines to color paint. Some paint companies will also sell you come color out of their machines if they don't have it in a bottle. You might carry a jar with you. I came out of a Sherwin Williams store last fall with some white tinting color in a Styrofoam cup. The colors you might need most often for wood stains is black, raw umber, red oxide and yellow oxide.

The image is that of red oak.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
The Rosewood I want to use is Zar #124 - Rosewood. The intent is to 'red' it up with the MinWax sedonna. The ratio I worked out (by testing) was 3parts Sedonna to 1part Rosewood. But when it's put on the oak, it is so unlike the test mix; way too light. And I get only one chance/coat.
I'm going to stop by a Sherwin-Williams store this PM and see what they have to say. I'll look into the dye aspects. Any thoughts on where I can start with the dyes? What do I use as a 'base' to add to?
 

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Sherwin Williams sells dyes but don't be surprised if they have to order it for you. Most stores cater to house painting and that is more of a professional product. I haven't used any of theirs. I normally use either Ultra Penetrating stain from Mohawk Finishing Products or their aniline dye powders. The powders are the same thing, it just needs to be mixed with alcohol. The dyes are a product that is better off sprayed at low pressure.

You might also try adding pigment to the Zar 124 you are using. Minwax stain is the only one I'm sure you can't add tint to. The color will get more concentrated with more pigment. Anytime you stain unless it's a dye you should only stain once and wipe off all the excess. Any stain left on the surface can interfere with the adhesion of the finish you put over it. The only way I know of altering Minwax stain is intermixing it with other minwax stain or add aniline dye powders to it.
 
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