Beth's built-in, Stain and Finish
Comments 6

Beth’s built-in: laying down some stain

Guess what I’ve been doing. It’s time for stain on my built-in project.

Well, I’ve been doing a couple of things actually. First, I have been trying to find a local source for mahogany without success. Don’t get me wrong, we have mahogany in central Alabama, but not much of it. I also have been adding stain to my built-in project. In the photo above, I have pulled out various leftover cans of stain and I went through several of them testing stain color on some scrap oak. The bathroom where the built-in will reside has a oak vanity which I made a number of years ago. Problem is, I can’t remember the stain color. After testing, I determined that Puritan Pine is the color I need.

This morning. Here is the project as it looked this morning.

During the week, I started applying stain to the inside of the top section. I got a coat on the back and both sides of the shelves when I started to run out of stain. And guess what? Puritan Pine is no longer available at both Lowes and the Home Depot. It is not even listed on the sample color pamphlet in these stores. Dang! I already have part of my project stained and I run out of it!!!

As I drove home Wednesday, I remembered an old hardware store, Bluff Park Hardware – and since they are a “Mom and Pop” store, they don’t just throw away old inventory. They not only had a can of Puritan Pine; they had three of them. So I am in good shape on this project, but this was a real scare for sure.

Pretty simple. I love staining oak. It is about as simple as it gets.

To apply the stain, I get some throw away chip brushes, brush on the stain, and with an old t-shirt, I wipe the excess off and let it dry. And then I put a box fan on the whole thing because the stain stinks something fierce. I am going to once again look into aniline dyes for my next project just because of the stench from oil based stains.

Currently. There is some slightly wierd grain on the drawer fronts, but I am pretty pleased with the results.

In the coming week, I will begin applying the wipe on polyurethane. And, I will hopefully get to work on the TV console project.

To see all the posts on this project including design aspects, click here.


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  1. Lookin good! I tell ya what. I hate the actual process of finishing, however it is so fun to watch the wood come to life. It almost makes up for some of the frustration.

    The dye's are a great way to go. There are even better alternatives to anilines. I was turned onto some that have much resistance to fading. I'll hunt down a bottle of it and send the name your way. Be sure to practice on some scraps. It's TOTALLY different than wipe ons. However on the figured woods, it looks amazing! (Sorry, I'm sure you already know all of this.) 🙂

    anyhow… looking great!

  2. Gosh you're lucky there. Or at least it would have been interesting two tone stain.

    This reminds me that one of the 'rules' of finishing was to make sure you had enough for the whole project before you start. Or further if using multiple cans of stain to mix them altogether to make sure it's consistent.

    I try to avoid stains as a general rule and just show the timbers natural colours but I have to say that's a really nice job.

  3. Jason – I hate finishing too. Any pointers you have are appreciated.

    Daniel – I need to open my projects up to different kinds of wood. I stick with oak because it a quality wood that is easy to get. It just doesn't finish that dark.

    I have discovered a limitation in my shop – I don't have the necessary tool to process rough sawn wood. This keeps me from working with woods that would finish darker without stain. That is my next thing to fix – purchasing a lickness planer.

    Thanks to you both for the comments.

  4. Jeff. Glad to offer any info I can.

    Check out:

    I use there pigment, dyes, and glazes. They are intended for spraying, which may be a small setback for you right now if you don't have a spray gun. The problem with dyes, is that the minute it hits the wood, that's your color. Period. You can play a little here, and a little there, however the hard part is getting an even finish. (hence the spraying thing) Very hard to do with wiping. Not impossible by any stretch, but a bit tough. Especially on big pieces. I LOVE dyes on highly figured wood because it penetrates and really brings out the grain. NOT the case with pigment stains, and certainly not the case with gel stains. Also a lot of other choices are available online for mail order. Order up a couple bottles and screw around. It's kind of fun. Ohh, I also love Mohawk finishing products. I use their water based conversion varnish and LOVE IT!!!!!!!

    Check out your local Woodcraft as well. They should have some good options for you.

    AND….for your mahogany, check lumber distributors. The ones that supply the actual lumber yards, and woodworking stores in the area. With the economy as crappy as it is, a lot of them will sell to people outside of the industry. You may need to buy 100 bf instead of 40, but save it for another project down the road. Just a thought.

    Ohhhh, and know there has to be some type of mill shop in the area. Talk to them about their suppliers, and see about having them machine some of your stock. I have a place here that I send 95% of all my material too. I buy all my 3/4 material as hit/miss 15/16″ Take it to the mill house, and they run it through the gang ripper to put a strait edge on it, then drum sand it all to 13/16. Then all I have to do is rip to the final width, and plane the ripped edges. It's a huge time save for me. Granted if I really need S4S material that is joined and planed for real furniture and not just cabinets, I can have them do that too, but it costs a bit more. But for a hobbyist, taking in a few boards to be dimensioned will be quick and easy for them and you can spend your time doing the fun stuff. Not prepping lumber. At one point I took in about 1000 bf of 8/4 Eastern Hard Maple. We were making massive door and window casing out of them. Each piece was about 7″-9″ in width and 7-8 feet in length. WAYYYYYYY too much mass for my dinky little 6″ joiner and 13″ planer. I tell ya what, that material came back straiter and flatter than I had ever imagined. I was blown away. I've also taken over 5 door panels that need to be sanded. Took em 3 minutes. Would have taken me 2 hours.

    OK, that's my two cents. Sorry for the long rambler. 🙂 Have a great weekend.


  5. So very nice Jeff. Can't wait to see it installed.

    Staining is a fun phase of projects seeing the various tones of the grain coming out. Makes me want to start something! That is a great story about the mom and pop store having the brand you use.

  6. Jason – thanks for the additional info. I am definately going to try some new finishes on my next project.

    I found a source for African Mahogany, Bell Forrest Products, that looks pretty interesting, so I am going to sit down tonight and do the math to make sure I order enough board feet – try to order the wood tonight which is kind of exciting.

    Jane – Bluff Park Hardware has bailed me out now two times, so sending your business to the local hardward store vs. the big box is important. We need to keep the local guy open for business!

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