Reply by Rich

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Posted on Beginner needing staining advice

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6142 posts in 1502 days

#1 posted 02-19-2017 05:55 PM

When I look at the two shelves you posted, the left looks much nicer than the right. The wood grain and its features are easily seen. It is much more difficult to see the wood grain on the shelf of the right and the overall color is not uniform. I guess the shelf on the right is the subject of your questions.

I’ll start by saying that the photo is somewhat blurry. Without seeing the piece in the proper light, it’s not possible to be specific about what’s good or bad with it.

That said, while you find the one on the right to look blotchy and like the one on the left, I find the one on the left to be just the sort of stuff you get from Sam Levitz or whatever discount furniture store is in your area. It looks like an everyday factory finish, that is intended to be cheap to apply, consistent from piece to piece, and appeal to the masses.

The one on the right, rather than blotchy, seems to be showing off the character and grain of the wood. It’s a matter of personal taste — if someone likes that featureless, factory look, that’s great. I happen to like wood with character.

I agree about your preference for clear finishes. Some woods like alder need some stain to bring them to life. With nicer woods like cherry, and exotics like bubinga and chechen, I go with clear finish.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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