Cherry Nightstand #8: Staining and Finishing

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Blog entry by Todd posted 06-02-2014 10:31 PM 2297 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Drawers Part 8 of Cherry Nightstand series Part 9: Final Assembly »

Since I needed this nightstand to match our existing bedroom furniture I decided to mix the stain myself. I was not satisfied with the results using off-the-shelf oil-based stains so I decided to try my hand at using dye stains. I ordered some TransTint dyes in Reddish-Brown and Black.

Since TransTint dyes use water and/or alcohol as the solvent then I knew I was heading down the path for a completely water-based stain and finish. Since water raises the grain of the wood and Cherry is known for blotching I decided to use MinWax water-based pre-stain wood conditioner and sand lightly with 220 grit before staining.

And for the finish I decided to use MinWax Polycrylic semi-gloss.

I did not have a good experience with the spray version of this product, but more about that later.

I mixed, stained, and finished test pieces until I was satisfied with the result. I kept careful notes of the mix I used. Here is a picture I took of one of my test pieces next to our headboard.

I ended up lightening it up a tad since cherry darkens over time.

Now that I had my stain recipe I mixed up a batch using only water as a base. I brushed the stain on, let it sit for a couple of minutes and wiped the excess off.

The nice thing about staining this way is that if you have an area which is stained unevenly you can brush it with water and the dye will go back into solution since there is no binder. The disadvantage is that since there is no binder at least your first coat of finish needs to be sprayed on, otherwise the dye goes into solution with the finish and you see brush strokes. Just saying…

Since I needed to spray the first coat I decided to try the rattlecan version of Polycrylic. Fortunately I used it on a test piece first. I shook it well but it spit and sputtered out clumps and ruined my test piece. It was then I decided just to go down to my local HF and buy an HVLP sprayer. I know folks have had mixed results spraying Polycrylic but it seemed to work fine for me. I set up my shop for spraying, ensured I had adequate ventilation and wore a respirator. Here is the carcass after a couple of coats.

One other thing I debated on was whether to glaze the piece. By glazing I mean highlighting some edges and such with black. I didn’t want to brush and wipe the glaze because I wanted more of a blended look like our furniture. I decided to try my hand at using an airbrush to get this look. I just used plain ‘ol airbrush acrylic paint and attempted to apply a somewhat random width glazing pattern on the skirt and raised panels. On the drawer fronts I was a little more bold with the glaze so they would stand out. Here are my results:

The next installment in this series will be the final assembly.

-- Todd, Huntsville, AL

4 comments so far

View CaptainKlutz's profile


4678 posts in 2655 days

#1 posted 06-03-2014 07:37 AM

I’m going to embark on finishing some cherry in the very near future. Could you share your Transtint to water ratio or the recipe you used? TIA!

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View xraydav's profile


218 posts in 3131 days

#2 posted 06-05-2014 10:55 AM

Amazing… I think your project would get a lot more attention if you listed it in your projects, just saying..
Love the color looking forward to seeing the finished project..

-- David, Norwood Mass, [email protected]

View Todd's profile


421 posts in 2837 days

#3 posted 06-05-2014 03:24 PM

Dave and Captain, thanks for your kind words! I will list it in my projects when it is complete…hopefully within the next week.

Captain, I’ve been meaning to get that ratio to you but the info is in my shop notebook! I’ll try to remember tonight when I get home…

-- Todd, Huntsville, AL

View Keyser_Soze's profile


68 posts in 2732 days

#4 posted 06-10-2014 03:02 PM

Oh man, I love the glazing you did – can you point out more details on how you did this, airbrush you used, any videos you may have watched? It’s a very small change that makes a very big difference in terms of finish quality. Very nicely done.

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