Ok, I stopped the work on the Retirement Cabinet… For what? So I could play with stains?
I really hate staining wood. It never turns out the way I think it should. (Please note my trials/tribulations with the Computer Station from… “mixing oil & water“)
I’m making a pair of bookcases — relatively simple ones — for a customer and I want to come close to the color of his Brazilian Cherry floor. I’m using Lyptus; a GMO wood — at least I think that’s what it is — some kind of hybrid of the Eucalyptus. The solid wood has a nice grain pattern similar to Mahogany and to this Brazilian Cherry (which is probably not a Cherry at all). The color is light, like white oak or Beech, with a bit of pink cast.
I did a stain sample for the customer:
Click on the image to get better detail. My customer chose the configuration in the lower right hand corner. Note that I am using only two stains in this process. Both are waterbased stains from General Finishes: “Black Cherry” and “Rosewood” The “stainbase” mentioned in the top samples is like a conditioner that helps control penetration.
The important thing about stain samples is that you need to finish the sample exactly the same as you will finish the final work. So, if you plan to spray the stain on the real thing, then spray the stain on the sample. And follow through with all the finishing steps — including any sanding, seal coats, & top coats.
Another thing is that if you are using both solids and plywood you should make samples on both because they absorb finish differently. But, of course, when I did these samples, I didn’t have any Lyptus plywood. Too bad! Because the Lyptus plywood I got wasn’t/isn’t nearly as bright and defined as the solid. So I started another sample: Spraying on the Rosewood stain over raw plywood.
It came out much darker & muddier than the solid wood sample. This image has the rosewood sprayed over the whole section. After it dried, I taped and wiped on/wiped off the Black Cherry on the lower half. Then finished as normal. I can’t say it looks too good. So, what to do? Well, make more samples, of course.
Because the above sample was dark & muddy, I decided to spray on Stainbase first to lighten up the color and, perhaps, allow the stains to penetrate the pores more than the flats.
(One thing I didn’t mention about the stainbase: General Finishes doesn’t make an actual “stainbase” — a solution into which one adds his own colorants to make a stain — so what I use & call “stainbase” is their “Natural” stain; a stain with no color in it. [is that an oxymoron?])
Anyway, I masked off some plywood and sprayed 1/2 with a single pass of the Stainbase, and the other half with two passes. Now, I wish I had pictures of these intermediate steps but I don’t, so trust me on this. I then wiped on/wiped off the Rosewood stain. I could see a little lightening in the color. After that dried, I wiped on/off the Black Cherry. Things didn’t look too bad. There was no difference between the areas that had one pass of Stainbase or two passes So my plan was to just spray one pass of stainbase — to save time.
Now, here’s why it’s very very important to follow through with the finishing process EXACTLY as you will finish the final product: After sealing and topcoating the samples, I noticed a distinct difference between the side with one pass of stainbase and the two pass side.
Even looking at this picture in lo-rez, it’s obvious the color difference.
So, what do we walk away with? Let someone else do your finishing!! No, No, No. Just be sure to follow through with all the sanding/finishing steps you plan to use on the actual piece. AND, if you’re using solid & plywood, be sure to make samples of both.