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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm building a freestanding tv stand for a customer and they would like it stained instead of painted. Problem here is I have VERY limited experience with staining projects and what types of stock to use.

They would like a fairly tight grain like cherry, but aren't crazy about the cost. Are they alternatives to cherry that will stain well and are reasonably easy to find?

Thanks in advance.
 

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You should explain to your customer that if you use cheap material, you're going to get a cheap looking result. No matter what you use to stain to "look like cherry", anyone who knows anything about wood isn't going to look at it and think "gee, that's a nice piece of cherry". No, they are going to look at it an think "ugh ... guy was too cheap to use real cherry".

Also, you should ask yourself do I want to become known as someone who makes cheap looking stuff ?
 

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I'm building a freestanding tv stand for a customer and they would like it stained instead of painted. Problem here is I have VERY limited experience with staining projects and what types of stock to use.

They would like a fairly tight grain like cherry, but aren't crazy about the cost. Are they alternatives to cherry that will stain well and are reasonably easy to find?

Thanks in advance.
That's a loaded question. I don't have an easy answer, but I will offer some input for you to consider. For the experienced finisher, he/she is familiar with wood species, how to prepare them, and what stains/dyes/and coloring techniques to use to get a desired result. Even with all that, it's a matter of trial and error, in making samples. IMO, doing a finish can be one of the most time consuming part of a project, that can't be rushed, and shortcuts don't usually produce good results.

For the hobbyist, the experimenting is invaluable. You have to keep in mind it's not just the media you use. It all starts with a certain species, and how it's prepared for a finish. If you are starting with a light colored wood, you may get some results with getting the color close by using a stain or dye. Once the topcoat goes on, the whole look can change.

Adding to the variables of the use of stains or dyes, the type of topcoat could induce more color, or change the shade. Knowing the characteristics of what you use help make testing more productive. Now that I've got you fairly versed with what's involved, you may run into projects with wood of the same species that don't look alike. I'm not trying to talk you out of anything, but rather to understand that the finishing process takes some planning before the first piece of wood is cut. You can't do better than experimenting, and making samples. It's a creative process when you see the results of your efforts.






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Mainstream furniture makers often use poplar, or one of it's varieties (cottonwood, tulip poplar, whatever) because it takes a stain so well. Works easily, it's stable, not very hard, and relatively cheap.

In my own experience, I've found that birch also stains well including birch plywood.
 

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I've dyed red oak and it took a long time to finish. I went water based dye with dewaxed seal coat and enduro var and it came out way darker than I like. The raising grain was a headache for me.

I'm a newbie but if I had to do it all over, I would definitely spend a few extra days testing the final finish, etc.

Lesson learned, I'm going to make my projects out of the wood I like so I don't have to stain/dye it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks guys, I know there are questions I don't even know to ask, and techniques I haven't even considered. But I'd like to give them some options so they can decide on a quality piece at a price they can live with.
 

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I'm building a freestanding tv stand for a customer and they would like it stained instead of painted. Problem here is I have VERY limited experience with staining projects and what types of stock to use.

They would like a fairly tight grain like cherry, but aren't crazy about the cost. Are they alternatives to cherry that will stain well and are reasonably easy to find?

Thanks in advance.
watch this video on staining and you will see what to do
 

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When I deal with someone who thinks that they can have me "finish something to look like", I tend to back them up or walk away.

If your client wants a quality hardwood for cheap, forget it. This means that they are putting material above your labor. And the cost isn't that much in long view.

Sealers and stain cost money and can take longer to apply and get right than it would to use a quality hardwood and finish. So, more money for stain and conditioner plus labor?

If they want cherry, use cherry.

I get this all the time: "I know some woods are cheaper than others so what can we get this for if use a less expensive wood?" I don't want anything to do with that. Means they're looking for a custom made bargain. Your skill doesn't mean much to them.
 

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If you are going to use birch or poplar like someone suggested, make sure you use a wood conditioner if you use an oil based stain. I have stained both birch and poplar and have gotten fantastic results, but the wood conditioner is key.

Gel stains also get a great look on birch and poplar, and you don't need to use conditioner.
 
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