Hi J, use the stain first. It won't 'take' if you seal the wood first. I usually leave the wood a good 24 hrs (or even longer) after staining before sealing as the stain can become wet again with the sealer and come off when you sand down. Don't forget to post a pic when you've finished!
They say that Ignorance is bliss - well I must be the happiest person in the world or the dummest. I was under the impression that you apply a sealer to eliminate the blotching etc. - based on the advise given here am I to assume that you are to stain AND then apply the sealer? If i'm wrong then I'm elated that I learned something - If I'm correct than I'm really confused - If I'm mis-reading this comment than, I apogize and will admitt I'm just confused!
Angus, to me (sanding) sealer does just that. It seals the grain so you can cut it back for a smooth finish. I found to my cost that putting the sealer on first resulted in exactly what you described - blotching - as the stain wouldn't take evenly due to the pores being sealed. To overcome uneven staining on raw timber I always clean the surface with spirit before applying the stain then the sealer. But hey - I'm open to persuasion otherwise!
There is no one way to treat all types of wood. Pine is usually hit with a sanding sealer before stain is applied to prevent blotching. Hardwoods are usually stained and then finished. Porus woods are treated with fillers before staining. Those are general rules of thumb. Some woods require cleaning before anything else is done to them. How do you know the right method for your project? Ask a professional, read labels and check out magazine articles offering step by step proceedures. Finishing is both a science and an art. There is no shortage of unqualified opinions, and I am the first to admit I study labels and then ask if I have further questions. I have a small box of samples; different types of wood treated with different finishes. Each is marked so I know the method used to achieve that particular finish. This is a perfect reference for future projects. One valuable lesson I learned is to use quality brushes by Purdy. Prompt cleaning, combing and drying in the supplied sleeve keeps these brushes in top shape.
Thank you Mike for you info - I makes us,(Geordie and I) both somewhat correct - Now I have to wonder if Gordie is refering to a "filler" and not a sealer. I've just checked every label in my shop and called 3 different cabinet shops - all in agreement (including the labels) with my comments- I know I'm kicking a dead horse and I'm not trying to be difficult. As I said I'm confused.
I'm wondering the same thing Angus. The 'sanding sealer' I use is like Danish Oil to look at. It fills the grain, so it might well be called a 'filler' in your part of the world. I found that when I need to use it on coarse grained wood I need to apply any stain first otherwise it just 'floats' on the surface and wipes off with the first application of top finish no matter how long you leave the stain to dry.
Talk about two nations separated by a common language!
OK. Angus prompted me to take another look at my finishing technique and I found this website. It looks as if I should be thinning my sanding sealer so I can apply a stain after it. I'll give it a go on some scrap and see how it works. Here's the site if your interested; http://www.furniturefinishwizard.com/washcoatsolids.htm
Thank you Geordie for the web-page you listed - I'm working with some cherry right now and have not been very happy with the finish - there is a excellent article on this page regarding cherry - this weekend I'm going into the shop and see what works and what doesn't.
Also PLEASE let me know what resulft you get from your tests.
Your comment "two nations seperated by a common language" tells me you may not be USA - where are you at?
Jfisher, The answer to your question is: With red oak you should not need any filler or sanding sealer. Work your way through different grits of sandpaper until you have the surface you desire and after cleaning with a tack cloth apply your stain. Keep in mind that most top coats or finishes will usually change your color slightly, most with a yellowish tint. As I mentioned before, a test piece of your wood with information about how long you leave the stain on, if there is more than one coat of stain, which finish you use and how many coats are applied will show you exactly how your project will turn out. Keep this for future reference. If you are building a water bed you might consider spar varnish instead of polyurethane as your finish coat.
Sanding sealer is made to fatten the bottom line of the people who make it. The first coat of any film finish is a sealer.Tack cloths are rags to keep dirt & oil in to spread on new projects, most finishers & woodworkers I know do not use them. Spar varnish is a long oil varnish so it is softer than regular varnish. In my opinion polyurethane varnish should never by used on any furniture.Oak is a ring porous wood so the pores are noticeable,filing is a personal choice. The good news is oak takes most ,if not all stains, very well (doesn't blotch) so don't waste money on a conditioner.
Ok, this will be my final post on this subject. I contacted my favorite expert and he reviewed this thread and gave me accurate information to post here. So there is no confusion lets break this down into specific questions and responses.
1. Red oak does not require a filler or sanding sealer. It takes stain very well.
2. There are different types of sanding sealer which are designed to seal, build quickly and sand easily. This is not true of all finishes. To find the recommended method for finishing your project please visit www.woodanswers.com where an industry acknowledged expert will respond to you.
3. There is more than one definition of a "tack cloth" and that can lead to confusion. English is a very specific language. Commercial tack cloths as sold in hardware or big box stores should not be used on untreated wood. Some are oil based and they could leave deposits. They do create static electricity if used on raw wood which in effect attracts dust.
A clean lint free "tack cloth" slightly dampened with water will remove dust and water defeats static electricity. "Tack cloths" that are dirty should not be used; either wash or replace them.
4. When in doubt after reading a label consult a qualified expert. By this I mean a professional with the scientific knowledge and accurate information. Again, I suggest visiting www.woodanswers.com
Here is a copy of a private message I sent to Jerry. Since he chose to not respond I am posting it here:
Jerry, perhaps you don't realize it, but you contradict everything I say. You are very knowledgeable about applications of several finishes, and this is of great value to the forum. I strive to provide accurate information, I contact nationally known professionals to resolve questions. I also contact manufacturers to assist members with product problems. I'm sure you will agree that vocal discussions are far better than typed messages. It is very easy to misunderstand a persons intent or meaning, and I try very hard to communicate effectively. I fail to be clear at times, a good example would be the tack cloth issue. I do not use commercial tack cloths and failed to explain that my understanding of tack cloth meant a clean, lint free cotton cloth dampened slightly with water. While the latter is acceptable/recommended the other is clearly not. Members needed to know and understand the difference so there was no confusion. Perhaps you are unaware that during the past 10 years most manufacturers have taken to calling their exterior finishes spar varnish, regardless of it's composition. One major manufacturer's formula is actually water based acrylic and polyurethane. You are correct in saying these finishes are softer than others; at the same time waterbeds are unique creatures... the side boards are subject to a great deal of flexing and stand a good chance of getting wet from time to time. Perhaps you see my reasoning for suggesting spar varnish for this application, it is far less likely to crack and fail. I have been sleeping on water since 1974 and worked as a builder/refinisher for Michigans oldest and largest waterbed store.
The bottom line is this: it is not my intention to offend you or be unfriendly. You do need to realize there is no one solution for finishing everything. Many professionals use polyurethane for finishing furniture. I highly value your input to the forum. I have learned a few tips from you that have helped me to become better at finishing. Peace.
I stand behind everything I said. Tack cloths (with resin) usually cause problems. The first coat of any FILM finish is a sealer. Filling the pores on oak is a personal choice. Oak takes stains well. In my oppinion(As I said) polyurethane varnish should never be used on furniture.
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