Stain and Finish, The Tornado Bed
Comments 7

Tornado Bed: I Run Into a Problem

It is time to get ready for stain. Here I have just applied a coat of pre-color conditioner.

Finally this project, which started in May, is coming to a close. Construction is complete on the Tornado Bed (or at least I thought it was – read on). I added the last of the pins for the mortise and tenon joints Friday evening. It was good to think that I would be putting away tools like my drill for the last time on this project.

This week was basically a repeat of the steps I took in my last post, except I worked on the head board this time and fine tuned my process for eliminating drill tear out. In case you missed last weeks post, the process looked similar to this…

I have added some painters tape to protect the soft pine from the spinning drill chuck.

My drill bit is just barely long enough to go all the way through the posts. The painters tape protects the wood from dents caused by the drill. Also I have clamped a backer board securely in place to minimize tear out.

Pins which are oak dowels are driven into place.

There was still a little tear out around the holes. I wonder if this is just hard to control in a soft wood like pine? Maybe some higher quality drill bits like these would help?

The view after cutting the pins flush and sanding the post smooth.

With the end of construction comes final preparation for the finish, and this means a lot of sanding. In general, I think that like 95% of woodworkers dislike sanding. But it is a necessary evil. I try to make the best of it with fresh paper in my sander and I also have plenty of 320 and 400 grit paper at the ready for final hand sanding.

The problem
After applying a coat of Charles Neil’s Pre-Color Conditioner, I begin to lay down some stain. Since I am staining pine, I keep my fingers crossed for good luck. Everything goes well until I get to the finials. See the pic below…

I stain two finials and find that they look horrible.

These finials look really bad. Let’s just say I have a thing or two to learn about applying conditioner to end grain. The one on the right is particularly bad – note the lighter triangle coloring in the upper right of the finial. These two finials are now basically trash, and fortunately I did not proceed further with the remaining two unstained finials.

This coloring is after one coat of conditioner and one coat of stain. I knew that the end grain would be darker, but since this is the first project I have used this new conditioner on, I did not know how dark (and I think it is too dark).

To correct this, I will apply three coats of conditioner on the remaining two finials and then stain them. I need to come up with a way to test this so as not to ruin them. I will also make two new finials to replace the badly stained ones, which means construction continues. Not a big deal since they are easy to make; I consider this just a minor setback. If you have any staining ideas different from this, please tell me in the comments. I’ll update this situation when I can.

This project was built in response to the historic tornado outbreak that occurred in Alabama on April 27, 2011.

On that day, 63 tornadoes struck our state which claimed the lives of 247 people and caused between $2.45 billion and $4.2 billion in property damage (click the image at the right).

The Tornado Bed was given free of charge to a needy victim of the April 27th tornado event.


  1. I wish I still had the extra finials I made – they would be nice to do some practice staining on. My plan is to make some additional finials to experiment on.

  2. CRAP! I'm so sorry Jeff. Your so close, and then this happens. If these two finials are “trash,” it might be worth playing with them a bit. You might be able to “paint on” some aniline dye with a small painters brush to darken the uneven spots. Grab some Transtint, mix it up with water or alcohol and put it on in VERY watered down layers. It will build and build and build, and you might be able to even them out. I could also be waaay wrong. don't toss em yet. Also, you shouldn't need completed spares to experiment with. Grab a scrap, cut some end grain at 90 and at whatever your other angle is to play a bit.

    Lee Valley brad points are THE BEST! I LOVE them!!!!!!!!!!!! Highly recommend. However for consistent clean clean perfect holes, forstners are the way to go. Then switch out bits for the extra depth. Just my 2 cents.

    Good luck! Your almost there. 🙂

  3. Jason – good idea about just using scrap to test. I'll do that.

    Instead of trying to dye the bad finials, I'll just make some more. I still have some of the same glued-up stock and the jig. They are pretty simple to make.

    Thanks for the comment!

  4. For getting edge grin to match the rest of the wood, I'll sand it a few grits higher. Say I sand the piece to 220 grit, I'll sand the edge grain to 400.

    It's worked well for oak and mahogany, but I'm not sure about pine.

    Stain doesn't necessarily penetrate that far into the wood, can you try sanding down the finals and trying again? if not for the final product, at least to practice stain matching?

  5. Ben – thanks for the comment. I'll mess around with the sand paper as you suggest. My experience is that the end grain of pine soaks up stain, but I am not sure how deep it goes either. Something I should test since I won't use those bad finials. Interesting idea.

  6. Seems like this has been a great learning experience. So glad you are just about done with this.

    I can't wait for the next step of finding someone to give it to! That is exciting.

  7. Jane, I plan to be finished with it by next weekend. So much personal and day job stuff on the horizon. 🙂

    It has been a good learning experience, especially staining the pine.

    Thanks for the comment!

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