By Bob Flexner

As these samples show, gel stains differ in thickness, but they all stain wood more evenly than liquid stains.

Gel stains have been on the market for more than two decades, but they've only recently become popular with woodworkers. They're thicker than liquid stains (see samples above), so they're less likely to drip. They're often marketed for this quality. But their real value comes from their ability to stain difficult woods more uniformly than liquid stains.

About Gel Stains

In composition, gel stains (also called "gelled" or "paste" stains) are similar to other stains. Most contain pigment suspended in a varnish binder thinned with mineral spirits. Some gel stains include dye in the varnish binder, or dye in a water-based acrylic binder. (For more on stains, see aw * 17.)

Gel stains differ from liquid stains because they incorporate a property called thixotropy. Thixotropy means the ability of a substance to liquefy when stirred or shaken, and return to a gel when left alone. Ketchup is an example of a thixotropic substance. You have to shake the bottle to get the ketchup out. When the ketchup hits your food, it remains as it landed until you spread it with your knife.

The most critical characteristic of gel stains is this resistance to flow,

Splotching occurs because of uneven penetration.

Splotching occurs because of uneven penetration.

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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