Beginner’s Guide To Staining and Finishing Wood

Beginner’s Guide To Staining and Finishing Wood

Woodworking of any kind is an amazing hobby to dig into. Whether you’re an expert with a jigsaw or just starting your first witling project, it’s a fun and useful pastime. After completing a piece, however, the next step is to add color and a protective coat. This beginner’s guide to staining and finishing wood is essential for first timers looking to dip their toe into this art.

Basics of Staining

For the most part, stains come in pint-size paint cans. They can be gently applied with a brush or rag—either method will produce streak-free results. Once a piece has been covered in stain, it can be left to sit for five to ten minutes for a darker result. Otherwise, simply wipe away the excess and allow it to dry. If a piece turns out too light, more layers can be added freely.

Stain is also sometimes difficult to clean up. Wearing disposable gloves will help keep your fingers from matching your latest project. Laying down newspaper or similar expendable surfaces underneath a work area will keep unsightly markings from soaking into anything important.

Choosing Your Stains

When it comes to choosing a stain, there’s no right or wrong answer. Ultimately, it depends on what you need or prefer. The most common type of stains are oil-based though various varnishes, lacquers, and water-based alternatives are also available. Oil has a pronounced scent that often surprises first-time users, but it deeply stains and protects the wood it’s applied to.

Stains also come in a broad array of colors. Often, they’re named after the recommended wood species it should be used on, but there isn’t a wrong answer. For instance, the best stain for alder wood is harder to nail down than cherry or mahogany due to its rich acceptance of many colors.

Choosing Your Finishes

Although it’s the final step, take your time choosing and applying the finish. What makes this product different from stains is its ability to completely seal the wood. While stains help ward water and weathering with oils, finishes put a coat over the entire surface, locking out moisture. Choosing the best finish depends on the needs of the project.

Each comes with different durability, degrees of gloss, and application methods. Waterproof acrylic is a great solution for first timers using the beginner’s guide to staining and finishing wood as a project primer. It’s easy to apply out of a paint can, comes in different glosses, is free of toxins and severe fumes, and the waterproofing qualities will keep your creations safe from watermarks.


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