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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking for advice for staining a bathroom vanity made of pine. I have little experience staining. I have stained in the past however I wish for this one to be right. Please offer your suggestions.

Thanks in advance!
 

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The best thing I can tell you is stain with the grain and make a full pass from one end to the other. Any stop and start marks in the center of a pine board will show up badly. Try to make straight lines when staining with the grain. Pine is all that I work with and have had good luck with the advice I've given you.
 

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Dave, do you ever use a conditioner, like a diluted shellac to help the blotching from happening?
 

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Dave, do you ever use a conditioner, like a diluted shellac to help the blotching from happening?
No, never. I've never tried it. My opinion is it is pine and it is goiing to blotch. Personally I've never had a real bad problem with the blotchiness. None of my customers have ever complained.
 

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Tate, use a conditioner which in reality is the stain base without the pigments. This will lock up any areas that will want to soak the stain up and become blotchy. I use this on cherry and maple all the time. It works very well, not perfect but well. The only down side to this method is that the stain will be lighter than it normally would be without the conditioning. If you are using MinWax or similar DIY stain, use the natural stain for the conditioner. If you are using professional stains (fast drying) use a stain base. The best way to apply the stain is by spraying, otherwise you will need to wipe it on and then off. Good luck.
 

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It's plywood?

STOP!!!!!!!

It doesn't happen all the time, byt plywood does have a tendency to streak or stripe. Meaning that if the stain hits an area of sapwood or where the grain is different from the rest of the sheet, the stain will leave what looks like a streak and there is no way to get rid of it.

This is where a wood conditioner comes in. However the best wood conditioner I've found is plain ol Shellac.

Goto my home page to the Completed Projects. In there are two projects from plywood that were finished with a stain. (Barrister Bookcase and the Media/Computer Cabinet.) The first step was to mix up some dewaxed shellac flakes with alcohol for a 1 pound cut (1# cut). Blond shellac works best cause it won't distort the color too much. However I have used a darker shellac color on the media cabinet to get a richer tone. After sanding the plywood to 220 or 320 (don't sand plywood any lower than 180 or you'll tear the facing off) apply the shellac to the entire piece. Plywood parts, hardwood parts, all of it wherever the stain will be applied. Let it sit for 5 to 15 minutes (Alcohol dries fast) then sand again lightly at 220 or 320. (320's better.) Clean it and then apply the gel stain.

The stain will go into the shellac which will give you the even color needed to look like a well made piece of furniture. Apply the stain as you would normally, but it very important IMO to prep with shellac first.

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
The aspen plywood sheets panels are very thin, perhaps 1/4" thick or less. Does this make a difference?

I planned to glue them over the front and sides of the cabinet I built. The cabinet was built with 3/4" plywood.
 

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There's no difference. The hardwood layer is peeled off the log like on a lathe, and that very thin sheet (like paper thin) goes onto the substrate which maybe Birch or Poplar. (Did I say this already? I'm in too many Woodworking Forums. :blink: )

I would still use the shellac as the first step after sanding. Since it's 1/4" or 1/8", I would hand sand with 220 or 320 very lightly prior to applying the shellac. Once you put on the shellac let it sit for 5 to 15 minutes then sand it with 320 or even 400 paper lightly. Then stain or finish as you would doing very light sanding when needed.

If you have a scrap piece, try it on that first to see if the color is what you want. That also gives you a way to test out the sanding process. It's almost impossible to replace a section of plywood when the hardwood skin comes off. BTDT and it's not fun.

Edit: Just curious... How are you planning to stick the Aspen plywood to the 3/4" Plywood, and what is the 3/4" plywood? (Cabinet Birch, AC grade, etc...)

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
There's no difference. The hardwood layer is peeled off the log like on a lathe, and that very thin sheet (like paper thin) goes onto the substrate which maybe Birch or Poplar. (Did I say this already? I'm in too many Woodworking Forums. :blink: )

I would still use the shellac as the first step after sanding. Since it's 1/4" or 1/8", I would hand sand with 220 or 320 very lightly prior to applying the shellac. Once you put on the shellac let it sit for 5 to 15 minutes then sand it with 320 or even 400 paper lightly. Then stain or finish as you would doing very light sanding when needed.

If you have a scrap piece, try it on that first to see if the color is what you want. That also gives you a way to test out the sanding process. It's almost impossible to replace a section of plywood when the hardwood skin comes off. BTDT and it's not fun.

Edit: Just curious... How are you planning to stick the Aspen plywood to the 3/4" Plywood, and what is the 3/4" plywood? (Cabinet Birch, AC grade, etc...)

Tom
Thanks Tom.

I have built a small bathroom vanity, 40"Lx18"w out of 3/4" pine ply, I beleive it's C grade. I will be installing a vessel style sink on top with a built faucet. The countertop will be marble or granite. The vanity front and right side are exposed 3/4" pine plywood. The left side will be up against the wall. The plumbing comes from the left side. I wish to stain the front and right side. I purchase the very thin (1/4" or less) aspen pine wood sheet pieces with the intent on covering the front and right side (gluing it) and staining. I thought doing this would provide me a smoother surface to stain. Initially I had planned to tile over the front, right and top but changed my mind.

I tried to stain a sample piece last night and there was blotching. The wood appears to absorb the stain a great deal. Is this due to it being very thin? I did use an oil base stain and prestain conditioner. Maybe I shlould try a Gel base stain?
 

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Will you use a contact cement or wood glue. If you use wood glue, spread it well and get the corners. Titebond I or III will do well. Contact Cement will work too but be sure it will resist the humidity.

As for the stain blotching... That's sometimes how the plywood reacts. The shellac will help that allot. Try another piece and shellac it first. Then apply the stain after 15 minutes. You'll see a difference.

Look for dewaxed shellac. (Waxed Shellac will not allow the stain to stick to it.) If you have a Woodcraft or a Rockler close by, get dewaxed shellac flakes from there as well as alcohol and some way to measure the fluid level and weight of the flakes. (I have an old food scale from the house and a plastic container from Home Depot with ounces marks on it. Blonde is the best color since it's transparent 97%. Mix up a 1 pound cut. (I think that's 1 ounce of flakes with 8oz of alcocol.) The flakes will need to dissolve overnight and it helps to crush the flakes prior to mixing them.

When the shellac is ready, sand the scrap to 220 or 320 noting what you sanded with. Apply the shellac to that area (A T-Shirt rag works well) and let it sit. After 5 to 15 minutes it'll be dry. Sand with 320 and apply the stain to see how it works.

Oak plywood & solid wood...



http://www.rhodeswoodsmith.com/Media_Cabinets.htm <<---- Construction Pics

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Will you use a contact cement or wood glue. If you use wood glue, spread it well and get the corners. Titebond I or III will do well. Contact Cement will work too but be sure it will resist the humidity.

As for the stain blotching... That's sometimes how the plywood reacts. The shellac will help that allot. Try another piece and shellac it first. Then apply the stain after 15 minutes. You'll see a difference.

Look for dewaxed shellac. (Waxed Shellac will not allow the stain to stick to it.) If you have a Woodcraft or a Rockler close by, get dewaxed shellac flakes from there as well as alcohol and some way to measure the fluid level and weight of the flakes. (I have an old food scale from the house and a plastic container from Home Depot with ounces marks on it. Blonde is the best color since it's transparent 97%. Mix up a 1 pound cut. (I think that's 1 ounce of flakes with 8oz of alcocol.) The flakes will need to dissolve overnight and it helps to crush the flakes prior to mixing them.

When the shellac is ready, sand the scrap to 220 or 320 noting what you sanded with. Apply the shellac to that area (A T-Shirt rag works well) and let it sit. After 5 to 15 minutes it'll be dry. Sand with 320 and apply the stain to see how it works.

Oak plywood & solid wood...



http://www.rhodeswoodsmith.com/Media_Cabinets.htm <<---- Construction Pics

Tom
I will use PL Contruction Adhesive or Nail Power Contruction Adhesive. I'll try the shellac.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Big difference Tom!

I purchased Bulls Eye, Seal Coat by Zinsser (nowax). I sanded a sample with 120 grit, applied the Bulls Eye, Seal Coat and let it dry. I sanded it lightly again and stained. There were no blotches!

I'm good to go! :thumbsup:
Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Tom, when staining what is the best method to achieve the desired tone?

Do I continue to stain repeatedly or, stain let it dry and stain again?
 

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Generally I work the stain while its wet to get the color I want. I apply all my finishes by hand with a rag (T-Shirt or rags from Woodcraft or Rockler) and fuss with it til it's even and the shade I'm shooting for. Generally if you let the piece sit overnight and the color is still light, you can add stain again without sanding prior. Apply it the same way but use less stain.

Gel stains are a little different. (This applies to both Oil and Water Base.) The directions say to put on a liberal coat and after a couple of minutes wipe off the excess. In my Experience I've found applying the gel stain like a regular stain works well and is not as wasteful. I start in a central area and work outward spreading the gel stain around the area where I started, like polishing a car. (Tip... Don't get too hung up on grain direction. Instead of going with the grain, massage the stain into the grain.)

You can always add more stain and wipe off staining that has turned too dark or puddled while it's wet. Adding stain to a piece that's already dry is done the same with less stain, but removing dark areas of stain after it dries is tricky. On Oil Base stains, you can use Mineral Spirits to pull off some of the stain. (Note: If the stain has Urethane already in it, this won't work.) For Water Base stains, you can either use a Water Base Extender straight out of the bottle and wipe the area off or use sand paper (320 or higher) to get lighten the tone and re-stain. I will tell you from experience that this method will leave an unsightly ring around the area where the sanding took place. Especially with Gel Stains.

Work it while the stain is wet, and be a little bit conservative with the stain. You can always add more. Use the Storyboard (that piece of scrap you've been experimenting with) and find what works. Professional Finishers use storyboards and a notepad to find what steps yeild the best results.

As my finishing friend said to me, "You put all that time making the piece. Don't trash it by rushing the finishing process." Test test test. In answer to your question, IME working it while it's wet is much easier. If you can get to the desired color in one application, you're in great shape. :thumbsup:

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Tom,

I think I over did it. I applied the stain yesterday about 6pm on a large test piece and it's still not dry. It's sticky to the touch. Is this normal?
 

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I don't use Minwax that much, but if your temprature is OK, it maybe on too heavy. You may have to let it sit another day.

Check the directions on the can. General Finish products have a setup time of 6 to 8 hours depending on the temprature, but Minwax maybe a much longer setup time.

Tom
 
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