Sewing Center #2: Stained Poplar using MinWax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner (yellow can)

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Blog entry by SouthpawCA posted 08-23-2009 10:09 PM 17026 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: The Sewing Center in Progress Part 2 of Sewing Center series Part 3: "Stained" Poplar »

I didn’t really listen and I should be spanked!!! I am now going to stain the sewing center. I knew I had to actually condition the wood because it is poplar. But instead of doing the 50/50 mix of shellac and denatured alcohol or as I read on a can of Zinsser Bulls Eye SealCoat (which is shellac) a 3 parts denatured alcohol to 2 parts SealCoat mix, I thought I save myself some time and just condition the poplar with MinWax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner (the yellow can – they also have a blue can for under water based stains).



You can see the streaking and blotching on the rail pieces. But, I thought it was strange when applying the wood conditioner, the rails seem to absorb more of the product then the stiles and muntin. I figured OK, I’ll add more and waited a bit longer to allow it to soak in, but not longer than the 15 minutes suggested on the can. Well, you can see the result.

Both the top and bottom pieces are ruined using MinWax-Pre-Stain


With multiple applications of MinWax Pre-Stain

I do find it strange that MinWax states in step #3 “the stain should be applied within 2 hours of application of Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner.” What happens after 2 hours???

To make matters worse (and where I need a good kick in the pants) – I tried it again on the other side!!! Again, I followed the directions TO THE LETTER and even added more coats of the product. But ended with the same result.

I have since removed all MinWax products from my shop.

Well, at least I get to now try out my new belt sander. Then re-do the conditioning and staining as suggested here on LJs and by woodworking instructors.

-- Don

11 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118252 posts in 4817 days

#1 posted 08-23-2009 10:53 PM

1lb cut Shellac works fine instead of wood conditioner


View Julian's profile


884 posts in 4765 days

#2 posted 08-23-2009 11:01 PM

Minwax is crap, plain and simple. Sorry to hear about you learning it the hard way.

-- Julian, Homewood, IL

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 5339 days

#3 posted 08-23-2009 11:12 PM

I support Julian’s sentiment. I use pro stains from Sherwin Williams or MLCampbells.

They handle better than Minwax when it comes to avoiding blotching.

What most people do not realize is that anybody can buy the same stains that I do.

Check with Sherwin Williams about their pro grade products or find and MLCampbell dealer in your area.

These stains dry in about 45 minutes or 2 hours depending on which product you buy.

If you are willing to go darker, you can use these stains over your project without sanding it down.

I use poplar as a remodeling contractor all the time and I can use stains to make it look like a more expensive wood. I do it all the time and recommend poplar as a great alternative to more expensive wood.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View jlsmith5963's profile


297 posts in 4588 days

#4 posted 08-24-2009 12:44 AM

I don’t remember where I saw it but one of the magazines did a test which included MinWax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner. As I recall the product preformed well when they didn’t follow the can instructions and allowed the product to completely dry before applying the stain. Of course this makes sense and one can only wonder why MinWax has the instructions that it does.

-- criticism: the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of an artistic work...

View John Stegall's profile

John Stegall

557 posts in 4756 days

#5 posted 08-24-2009 12:51 AM

If you have a piece of the same wood (that you made your rails from) try duplicating the problem and then play around with it. I do not know if you can bleach it after it has been treated (someone?), but try it. If you can get it to look like what you have, then maybe you can find a solution.

-- jstegall

View PineInTheAsh's profile


404 posts in 4508 days

#6 posted 08-24-2009 01:19 AM

Finishing is a whole ‘nother world.

You have to learn it and respect it.

How far do you really want to go?

For us here, Minwax is a proven product. I have used it for thirty years.

No one knows certain what a tree will actually yield. That’s the beauty of woodworking.

Actually, just one of the beautiful secrets of nature, wood and woodworking.

View Julian's profile


884 posts in 4765 days

#7 posted 08-24-2009 01:53 AM

I don’t know where your from, but all it took for me was to mess up one project with minwax brand stain to realize that there had to be a better way. Thankfully I had a Sherwin Williams store down the street. The salesmen were more than helpful in getting me on track with what products I should be using.

-- Julian, Homewood, IL

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 4525 days

#8 posted 08-24-2009 02:52 AM

About the only time I use Minwax is when I have to try to match a stain a customer has used (usually Minwax) from one of the box stores. M.L. Campbell is owned by Sherwin Williams, so one or the other is usually available locally. I use M.L. Campbell products (stains, sealers, pre-catalyzed lacquers and white).
I know it’s frustrating, but don’t feel too bad…....finishing is always a learning experience(just like woodworking), every time you thing you have it down pat, something will prove you wrong. Good luck and let us know how you make out.

-- John @

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 5367 days

#9 posted 08-24-2009 12:02 PM

FWIW: Sherwin-Williams owns Minwax. :)

-- 温故知新

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 4968 days

#10 posted 08-24-2009 03:18 PM

Good point Randy. Also, I’ve had no problems with minwax in the past, as long as I use a few test pieces first and make sure I know what I’m about to be doing.

View japanesewoodworker's profile


75 posts in 4292 days

#11 posted 06-18-2012 02:16 AM

Did you know that Warren Buffett owns Sherwin Williams.

(aka… the Oracle of Omaha…. based on this I have another name for him that begins with “O”...)

What is wrong with the United States, Mister President ? ....where shall I start….

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