Current Project #9: Staining the Table

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Blog entry by Dave Rutan posted 09-17-2014 11:38 PM 1746 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Time for sanding Part 9 of Current Project series Part 10: Table Still Going ... »

I saved it. Does that count for anything?

I’ve been having a bit of an adventure staining the table. Aside from not handing it to a professional I know what I did wrong, I tried staining the table.

Does good plywood have a project side and a non-project side? I’m using maple plywood. When I made my cuts, I made it so that the plainer side was facing out. Apparently that was my first mistake.

So, After I got everything cut, glued, screwed, sanded etc. I hesitated before staining. I remembered hearing tales of staining problems and did some research here and on YouTube. Nothing I found comforted me. There was even an article on the internet from one of the woodworking gurus admitting he didn’t really know what he was talking about in a book he wrote about wood finishing.

So apparently for staining I shouldn’t sand higher than 150 grit(?) and I need to use a wood conditioner before staining. The ONLY one available around here is Minwax.

I started on the legs, because they are less visible. The results were unsatisfactory. Actually I think it looked worse that it would if I had just put the stain on bare wood. I tried sanding the first coat and putting on a second. Didn’t help at all.

I stained the table top without the conditioner and it was also uneven, so I came up with a cheat that is working. Tinted polyurethane. The furniture in the room that I’m trying to match has a barely visible grain, so my putting coats of tinted poly on it will actually make it better match the other furniture. I was planning on putting about 47 1/2 coats on the table top anyway.

Strangely though, the underside of the table stained more evenly than the top(!?) What’s with that?

This project is going to come out fine and I hope to get it over to the church late next week. Then i get to watch the patina of age develop as it gets used for Sunday school lessons, meetings and everything else.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

2 comments so far

View Oldtool's profile


3164 posts in 3196 days

#1 posted 09-18-2014 12:13 AM

I’m no finishing expert, and I’ve never used hardwood plywood, so my ability to help is limited.
When I finish & need to add color, I always use a dye. I’ve had very little blotching problems, and I always test the dye on cutoffs from the wood in use. Most of the time I just clear coat with Arm R Seal wiping varnish, because the beauty of natural wood is always a winner.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Dave Rutan's profile

Dave Rutan

2008 posts in 3194 days

#2 posted 09-18-2014 12:35 AM

Oldtool, I try to stay away from stain too, though the few times I’ve had to use it, I had good luck. The secretary desk renovation and a few smaller projects come to mind. Like you, I usually just use the natural color of the wood. In this case though I definitely wanted to match the book cases already in the room.

-- Ni faru ion el ligno!

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