Uneven Stain Absorption

Added on April 17, 2007

This week’s question comes from Robert. He writes:

When staining soft maple Kitchen doors and drawers from a millworks shop the painter applied a special walnut stain directly to the raw wood. The stain did not take well on wood milled with the grain, and on cross cuts the stain soaked into the wood giving a dark black color. How do we prevent the cross cut problem and promote a uniform acceptance of the stain.

And here was my reply:

“Hey Robert. Uneven staining can be a real pain. There are a few things you can do to even things out in the future. First, you should sand the end-grain to one or two grits higher than the rest of the piece. So if the piece is sanded to 180, you should sand the endgrain to 220 or 320. The finer sanding will help prohibit stain absorption. Another technique is to apply a glue size to the endgrain. Make a 10:1 mixture of water and yellow or white glue. Brush this solution onto the endgrain and give it several hours to dry. Once dry, sand lightly and proceed with staining. The embedded glue will prevent excessive stain absorption. You can also use a light coat of shellac or any sealer to the same end. And remember to always test on scrap or inconspicuous areas to ensure you get the look you are after. Hope these ideas help.”

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