Originally Posted by FannBlade
I hate gel stains they just don't soak in. You may try some regular Minwax it is VERY thin solvent based and will really get in the grain.
Originally Posted by DeeJay1337
Yea bro, Gel Stains really are the long process. Why not work with something more lacquer based?
Roger that - funny, there are a lot of people who don't like Gel Stains and a lot of people swear by them. I'm willing to try them both out, however. The reason I went with a Gel Stain originally is because from what I understand, maple is a bit difficult to stain, and a Gel Stain may reduce the chances for blotchiness, and also give me a much better colour. Anyways - you'll see in this update my experience with an oil-based stain!
Some of you may have wondered - "You stained 2 small pieces of wood in the past 2 weeks?! That's all you have to show for progress on THE ULTIMATE DESK?!"
Well, not quite... Really - I did more, I swear.
As you all know, the first staining attempt went really poorly, so I immediately went out and started on a second staining attempt. This time, I purchased some pre-stain wood conditioner, as well as a traditional oil-based stain. I also set out to do this the right way. If I'm going to spend a week staining small samples, I might as well have something to show for it. I cut 8 small blocks of wood, and sanded them all to 120 grit, just like before, and tacked them all off.
I had a plan this time - I was going to see what kind of colour combinations I could get with just 2 stains, and 1 wood conditioner (The gel stain, for what it's worth, had been mixed several times, and had been kept upstairs for a few days). Here is the wood conditioner I used. You can see in the background that it tints the wood just slightly.
Here is the oil-based stain I picked up. It's a Minwax product, Red Mahogany.
And of course, the Varathane Gel Stain that you've already seen, also, Red Mahogany.
In this picture you can see a bit how the oil stain reacts to the wood conditioner. The wood conditioner seemed to have hardly any effect on the gel stain, most likely because gel stains don't really penetrate the wood the same as an oil stain.
And in this picture you can see the whopping difference between the oil stain and gel stain, which are, strangely enough, supposed to be the same colour. The one on the left is the Minwax, and the one in the middle is the Varathane. Neither the first or second piece have wood conditioner on them. The piece on the right has wood conditioner + Minwax oil stain.
Here's the production line, the stain is still wet, I haven't wiped off the excess yet.
And here is the result of 2 days of staining. (First day sanding, tacking, wood conditioner, first coat of stain, second day some of them got a second coat).
From left to right, here is what I did to get the different results (Some of them obvious, some of them pretty darn subtle).
1. Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain
2. Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain
3. Wood Conditioner + Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain
4. Wood Conditioner + Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain
5. Wood Conditioner + Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain + Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain
6. Wood Conditioner + Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain + Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain
7. Wood Conditioner + Minwax Red Mahogany Oil Stain x 2 Coats
8. Wood Conditioner + Varathane Red Mahogany Gel Stain x 2 Coats
Wow! It's pretty amazing the different shades you can get when using just 3 pretty simple substances.
I then set about the next 4 or 5 days applying one coat of high gloss polyurethane each day (That was a long and boring process). Basically, get home from work, go downstairs for a whole 5 minutes, do a quick sanding, tacking, and another light coat of poly, done for the day, wait for the next day.
Here's the final result of Staining Attempt Number Two. Please keep in mind, they are not in the same order that I mentioned above.
There's no doubt that I will use this method again in the future. I also now have a great set of staining samples for maple plywood that I will surely fine handy in the future (They are all marked on the back what the process / stain used was).
Guess what though. None of them really came out the way I wanted. I'm still in search for that rich, deep, red mahogany / cherry look, and these just won't cut it (Though I admit, I do like #5 and #6, but maybe only because of their really spectacular grain pattern).
See you next time for Staining Attempt Number Three! *sigh*
Oh - and here's another snap of the kittens - they are 20 days old when this picture was taken, and they had just opened their eyes only a couple days beforehand.
I won't be posting another update until next week, as I've decided to take a trip to the East Coast to celebrate St.Patricks day! I'll be in Halifax if anyone wants to go for a few pints! Have a great weekend everyone!