Please look at this bookcase, and offer advice.

tomatotomataDecember 29, 2009

I have this little bookcase, made of inexpensive wood (I think it cost $40). I'm sure you've seen it before:

I'd like to stain and finish it, but it staining a bad idea? As you can see, it has a lot of color variety in the wood.

I know I would have to use a wood conditioner, but even with that, is the stain a bad idea? Should I just put a finish on it?

I'm not trying to make it look like a valuable antique; I'd just like it to look as good as possible.

Please forgive the large pictures; I'm still learning.

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I think you should cut back on the coffee before taking pictures. :-)

Stain sticks to bare wood, not finishes so you'd need to remove whatever finish is on it now. What are you trying to accomplish?

    Bookmark   December 29, 2009 at 9:09PM
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I would like a dark stain on it, but I don't want it to turn out blotchy. Do you think a wood conditioner prior to staining would be sufficient to even out the stain? Or should I just live with the light color, and put a finish on it?
And in that case, varnish? oil?

    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 12:46PM
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It's unclear from the photos if this wood has a finish on it now or now. As Mike says, in order to use stain, you need bare wood.

You can, however, apply a toner (finish with color in it) or a glaze (color _between_ layers of finish).

To be effective, you almost have to spray a toner.

You can buy canned glazes, mix your own, or irony or ironies, use a gel stain as a glaze.

In either case, you need to use products compatible with what is on there now. If this is a factory finish, it is probably lacquer. However it could be a two-part finish. Unless you did it yourself, it is probably not a "varnish."

It's also unclear what wood(s) are in the bookcase. Wood conditioner does not work all that well, particularly when used according to directions (!) Gel stains and spit coats tend to work better.

If you can answer these questions, we can explore these options more.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 9:00PM
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My previous response to the post appears to have disappeared, but I'd vote for painting it a dark color (satin black or a rich chocolate brown, maybe even gray, since that seems to be the hot color these days.

From another point of view (decorating), I think it would be important to know more about the room that it will go in, what other pieces are there, what colored wood and textures you are working with in the room etc.

If you are set on staining or putting some kind of "clear coat type finish" on it, then you definitely should sand it well and get it down to the bare wood (as stated). The things I have stained in the past being both nice wood and not so nice and have generally not used any kind of conditioner.

I'd take better pics and then post again, but I think you will make it look like a more substantial piece by painting it. (just my 02 worth)

    Bookmark   December 30, 2009 at 11:37PM
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