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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am finishing up a low-cost project (bedside table) that is made of plywood sides (inset w/ dadoes) and 2x3 studs for legs. The legs and some other trim pieces are very soft wood, so I'm guessing that the stain will soak right in and I'm not sure if this is good or bad. What I want to accomplish is a very smooth "satin" finish, with little or no gloss, and it will be a dark walnut type of stain.

1. Should I pre-treat the wood to avoid too much stain soaking in?

2. If so, what type of pretreating product?

3. What would be the best product to add last for the protective top coat that will not add a glossy look? (I'll need as much extra protection as I can get since this is soft wood)

Thanks so much for the help!
 

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Do a test patch on an area of the wood which won't be seen, after assembly, or on leftover scraps. As you are using different grades of wood, test each type.The stain will usually go darker the longer it is left on, so the sooner you wipe it off, generally the lighter the colour. If it is coming up too dark try thinning with some thinner to lighten it up.
Try wiping off, while still wet, using thinner soaked rags.

Another plan, if too dark is go to a lighter stain.

Make sure you store any used rags in a closed metal container to avoid fire hazard.

I have used Satin Varathane as a final coat for pieces where I didn't want a lot of gloss. It worked well. If you want a deeper looking finish you can apply several coats. Let the first coat dry thoroughly, and then sand with very fine wet/dry sandpaper, with water, allow to dry completely, and apply next coat. This will give a very nice low luster finish with the appearance of some depth.

Good luck with the project.

Gerry
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies. A few new questions:

1. Do I need to use wet sandpaper when sanding between coats, or do I need to wait for the coat to fully dry anyway?

2. Regarding the "Seal Coat (dewaxed shellac)", this would be the first coat I put on before any staining, correct?
 

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a "wash coat" is applied to the raw wood, before staining, to help even the stain .

You should wait to fully dry to sand. If if sands powdery, you're good to go.
 

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With regard to the satin varathane. I am doing a bookcase now, and according to the instructions you can apply a second coat after three to four hours, so I did. It looks okay so far. I think I will let the second coat completely dry, and then wet sand before applying the third coat. The big advantage to wet sanding before applying another coat is that you sand off any dusty or pebbly areas, and the third coat[or fourth] tends to come out very smooth. If you really want to get a nice finish you can very lightly wet sand the final coat, with very fine paper, and then apply a low luster wax or polish. Someone out there probably knows some good quality brands to use. I can't think of a name product right now.

Let us know how it turns out.

Gerry
 

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Seal Coat

On soft woods a sanding sealer is always good insurance. Sanding sealer is a type of product and is available from many manufacturers and because of it's formulation you would be hard put to tell the difference from one or the other. The concept is that it closes the pores and provides a uniform substrate for staining. With the pores closed, the stain will penetrate evenly by virtue of the surface you provide by sanding after the sanding sealer dries. I normally use a 120 grit paper on my RA sander for the large flat areas and then hand sand where I must. I sand until I raise a fine powder and then I move on. You do not want to sand through this coat or you will loose your control over the color. Once the sanding is done on both your finished project and a couple sacrificial scraps of the same material, blow them clean with compressed air if you have it, vacuum if you don't, and then perfect the stain process on your scraps. When you are satisfied with the outcome, move on with the staining of the project. Allow the stain to dry completely before top coating with a sealer. With regard to sealers, you have several choices. My favorites are polyurethane which I use on surfaces that will see rough service like table or dresser tops. When it is fully cured, it is resistant to heat and chemicals like the alcohol in after shave. For all other applications, I use lacquer. It dries much faster allowing me to get 4 or 5 coats on with sanding in between, long before the polyurethane is dry. Both products are available in the gloss level you prefer but be advised. All finishes are formulated as full gloss initially. The reduction of the gloss level is accomplished with additives that will settle out over time. If you are using anything other than full gloss, you will need to gently stir the product prior to application. As a final note. I use the purple scotchbrite pads to buff the clear lacquer between coats, ploy still gets a light sanding with 120 between coats. My preferences.
 

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Thanks for the input edp. On another thread, regarding uses of steel wool, I have noticed other DIYs are using Scotch Brite as well. I have used it, and like it better than steel wool. Are there any downsides to Scotch Brite, or is it just all-round good?
Gerry
 

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Scotchbrite evaluation

No downsides for you. The pads last for a good long time, unlike steel wool which rapidly disentegrates during use. Also, they leave nothing behind to compromise the finish. They may be a little pricey when compared to steel wool, but only on the upfront. I bought a case almost a year age (100 full size pads) and I (should say we) haven't even used a quarter of the box. That's saying something when there are other people in the shop that are not responsible for maintaining the inventory of disposables.
The scotchbrite is available in several grades but I use the purple pad exclusively. I have recently purchased hook and loop scotchbrite pads for my DA sanders to speed up the between coat sanding of large panels. They also perform well, and as expected, continue to perform without the need to change them out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
wet sand...

What is the basic technique for wet sanding? Is this simply a matter of lightly dipping your sanding block into a shallow bowel of mineral spirits and then sand away?

How do you know when it is wet enough, too dry, or too wet?

Thanks.
 

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Finishing soft white wood

Basic technique is to wet your paper enough so that you get a slick of wetting agent on the finished surface. I used water, but this can have drawbacks. Mineral spirits, will probably work better, as long as they are compatable with the finish you are using. As you sand you will notice a sort of raspy sound initially, but once the surface roughness is going away the sound smooths out, and becomes more like a swoosh. Keep the surface wet enough so that the liquid and the sanded material make a creamy, almost milky paste. You do not have to try and remove the whole coat, you are only taking off the sandy/pebbly surface, and prep the surface for the next coat. When you feel that the surface is ready [by now your sanding block should be gliding smoothly along the surface] take a clean dry cloth and wipe the surface clean. Wipe your fingers along the surface. They will tell you if it feels smooth. If you have a good source of daylight look over the surface into the daylight. The surface should appear smooth, and very low luster. When it is completely dry you should be able to apply your next coat. If anything, it is better to have a little too much liquid on the surface, as opposed to letting the paste thicken up, or go dry. You can always wipe off any excess.

The draw back with using water, although it is very inexpensive, and works well, is that if you get a bit impatient, and do not let it dry out completely, any moisture, trapped in cracks, joints, or knots, will leave a line of bad finish. I will be more patient next time.

Hope this helps out, and if anyone out ther has some better suggestions, please jump in. I learned something the other day, reading this thread. I never knew before, why I was constantly agitating a can of perfectly clear varnish. Now I know.

Thanks.

Good Luck

Gerry:smile:
 

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I am finishing up a low-cost project (bedside table) that is made of plywood sides (inset w/ dadoes) and 2x3 studs for legs. The legs and some other trim pieces are very soft wood, so I'm guessing that the stain will soak right in and I'm not sure if this is good or bad. What I want to accomplish is a very smooth "satin" finish, with little or no gloss, and it will be a dark walnut type of stain.

1. Should I pre-treat the wood to avoid too much stain soaking in?

2. If so, what type of pretreating product?

3. What would be the best product to add last for the protective top coat that will not add a glossy look? (I'll need as much extra protection as I can get since this is soft wood)

Thanks so much for the help!
I would just use a minwax wood conditioner, I have used it on pine which is notorius for soaking up stains unevenly and it came out very even, and looked great, you can get it at any Home Depot.
USE A RESPIRATOR!!!! YOU WILL GIVE YOURSELF BRAIN DAMAGE IF YOU INHALE THE FUMES FROM STAIN OR WOOD CONDITIONER!!!

www.jrwoodcrafts.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I finished the project that I was referring to in this post, and it is now posted in the "project showcase" section. Take a look and make a comment if you like.
 
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