Stepstool for a Friend's Wife

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Project by slartibartfast posted 10-15-2010 07:45 AM 2481 views 3 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a stool I made for a friend of mine a few weeks ago whose wife was about to have a baby. They happen to have a pretty tall bed and a stool would be a great help for a new mother trying to climb into a high bed like that after going through childbirth. My friend and I were looking forward to working together to build this for his wife, but as it goes, he simply did not have the time. I took it upon myself to make it as a surprise and give it as a true birthday present for the new little one and mother.

It was all made of one 1×8x12 big-box-store top grade white pine. I designed it in SketchUp and made a cut diagram so there was minimal waste. This was my first experience with counter-sunk screws and self-made plugs, and that was pretty fun, too. As far as the finish goes, I planned to use a gel stain or two to try to match their existing dark cherry bedroom furniture. As per the manufacturer’s suggestions, I purchased the pre-stain sealer and gel stain and proceeded to follow all of the directions, sanding with 320 after each step.

The gel stain was horrible! Not ten seconds after applying the first coat of stain to the treated wood and it was already drying, splotching, smearing and whatever other bad things could happen – even in the Louisiana humidity. After spending merely 20 or 30 seconds on each portion of the project, trying to touch it up as I went was futile, as the semi-dry stain was already peeling and smearing. I ended up having to sand it almost all the way down to the bare wood and use regular stain to get it to look even halfway decent. I ended up putting 3 separate coats on 3 separate days of different regular non-gel stains to mask the horrible lingerings of the gel stain’s fury. The second photo shows it best – that is not wood grain you see – it’s the brush strokes left from the @#$%&^* gel stain! Apparently all is well, as my buddy said the stool almost perfectly matches his bedroom furniture.

Have any of you had this kind of trouble with gel stain before? I’d love to hear some tips as to what I may need to do differently next time.

Thanks for looking.

-- -- From way down in Cajun Country -- Baton Rouge, Louisiana -- --

6 comments so far

View Servelan's profile


39 posts in 3320 days

#1 posted 10-15-2010 10:44 AM

I’ve had this happen with gel stain that was a bit old, stuff I’d had sitting on the shelf for a while. I tend to use the gel and then overtint with a liquid right away, and that covers a lot of the gel’s unevenness.

I tend to use old cloth rags, the really ratty ones that have gone from kitchen to workshop and are ready to toss, for staining because I’m too sloppy with a brush. Don’t think that makes a difference for everyone, but it seems to work for me. I never seal wood…could it be the sealer that was giving you grief? I’m up in Washington state, so humidity doesn’t sound like a problem [we have ‘damp’ down to a fine science up here].

View harrywho's profile


123 posts in 3771 days

#2 posted 10-15-2010 12:48 PM

Really neat. Love the simple lines. Could you post the SketchUp drawing or email them to me? Thanks.

-- Harry, Indiana

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 4560 days

#3 posted 10-15-2010 02:45 PM

Check this out;
I’m pretty sure it will help solve your problems with blotching.

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View workerinwood's profile


2717 posts in 3606 days

#4 posted 10-15-2010 02:51 PM

Nice work, like the design!!

-- Jack, Albuquerque

View Pbarnett's profile


48 posts in 3492 days

#5 posted 10-15-2010 06:47 PM

That turned out really nice. I’m sure your friend will really like it.

View lashing's profile


111 posts in 3360 days

#6 posted 10-16-2010 08:29 PM

Thats why I do not purchase any stain from a big box store. They all seem to sell 1000 varieties of Minwax. None of which work well. I stick with alcohol NGR stains and tinted lacquer.

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