Staining project - Did I do something wrong - Need help.

family_manOctober 27, 2011

I need help with my staining project.

I have a new piece of birch butcher block (from IKEA) that I wanted to stain to use as a bartop. I sanded down the piece using first 120 grit, then 220 grit on a palm grit sander to remove the coating on the butcher block. Then I applied Minwax prestain with a foam brush and wiped off the excess. About 20 minutes later I applied Minwax stain (English Cheustnut) with a foam brush and wiped it off 5-10 minutes later.

If you see the attached picture it shows that the stain had black streaks on the piece.

My only other time staining, I stained birch veneer plywood using the same technique above (sand down to 220, prestain, stain with English Chestnut), wipe off) and it looked a lot different - see picture

Did I do something wrong? On the butcher block I was expecting a more even color without the black streaks. I don't have enough experience to know what may have gone wrong. Or is that just the way two different pieces of wood will look?

Any help is appreciated.

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water based or oil based "pre stain"? Did you sand in between?

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 12:49PM
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it was an oil based prestain. I did not sand after the prestain and before the stain.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 1:06PM
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What you seem to have is severe blotching.[some parts of the wood takes stain more easily than other parts] My guess is that the end grain of some fibres really sucked up stain and turned very dark. You're going to have to get it out with stripper, solvent and sanding, then start over. Typical staining methods will like not work. It might even be difficult with shellac. If that happened with a conditioner, then I think you're in for an adventure. Get it off then come back and we'll get you through it.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 8:03PM
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Did you thoroughly stir the stain before applying it? Did it start to dry in places before you wiped off the excess? I don't do a lot of staining, but that looks to me like too much pigment settled into pores in the wood and stayed there.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 6:44AM
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Wood conditioners don't work all that well. Bob Flexner wrote an article a few years ago and he discovered they work better if you ignore the directions and let them dry overnight, not just the 20 minutes or so recommended on the can.

But he prefers to use a gel stain.

You can also use a wash coat of shellac (0.5 lb cut) as a conditioner.

You might also have a better time using a stain with dye only instead of pigment. Problem is, few of the manufacturers tell you this property. If there is sludge in the bottom of the unstirred can, that's the pigment. If the can is clean all the way down, it's dye-only. Some stains have both.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 1:05PM
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It looks to me like the butcher block was previously oiled. Was there a factory-applied oil or coating of some sort?

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 5:21PM
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Hey everyone - thanks for responding. Sorry for the delay in my response, this weekend was busy and Trick or Treating with the kids last night have kept me away from the computer.

I looked again at a piece of the original butcher block and I realized that there was a good amount of variation in color to begin with. I think that applying the oil stain brought out the differences in colors and in addition, made all the grain and specs pop. I think this was the biggest surprise for me and what was the most concerning.

So I tried one more sample with gel stain (Minwax Mahogany gel stain) and I like the result much more. It had a great color and the contrast was more consistent with what I wanted. I think I am becoming a fan of this product.

Thanks again everyone for your help.

    Bookmark   November 1, 2011 at 10:45AM
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