(iel stain is nothing more than pigmented gel varnish. It has the same pudding-like consistency. And it's applied the same way: Load up a lint-free cotton rag and rub die wood's surface in a series of overlapping circles to spread the stain and wipe oil'the excess. Finish by wiping with the grain to remove any streaks. That's all there is to it.

Just because gel stains are easy to apply doesn't mean you can take it easy when you prepare the surface, though. You must sand thoroughly. because gel stains highlight surface blemishes, such as sanding scratches. Sand up to ISO-grit paper and examine the surface with a raking light to make sure no scratches remain from coarser grits. Color Wood Evenly

^ . Gel stain doesn't soak into wood the way liquid oil stain does; it stays bOME LIMITATIONS near the surface, like paint. This is important to remember when you

^ , , stain unevenly porous woods, such as maple, birch, pine and cherry.

Gel stains set up faster than liquid oil stains, Jhese WQods comajn randomly located pockets of super-absorbent grain so divide staining into manageable sections. that are virtually invisible—until you stain. Liquid oil stain makes these

For example, stain the panels on a large door woods look biotchy and unattractive. Gel stain colors them first: then tackle its stiles and rails. Using gel much more evenlV Both samples pictured above have

,, . . one coat of walnut-colored stain made by the stains on large flat surfaces, such as a desktop. same manufacturer is a challenge. Work at a steady pace and End grain is also super-absorbent.

maintain a wet edge. Liquid oil stain soaks in and

Most gel stains slightly obscure the wood's turns end 9rain biack-

, 1M . , Gel stain stays near figure, because, like paint, they contain pig- the surface SQ jt ments. For this reason, you shouldn't use them keeps end grain look-

directlv on bird's-eye maple, quartersawn oak ing like face grain. g or other highly figured woods. Also, putting Both samples shown §

more than one coat of gel stain on finely of walnut-col-

grained woods, such as maple, can completely hide the grain.

Gel stains need to be topcoated. Wiping on several coats of gel varnish is easiest: brushed or sprayed on polvureihane is more durable.

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Wood Working 101

Wood Working 101

Have you ever wanted to begin woodworking at home? Woodworking can be a fun, yet dangerous experience if not performed properly. In The Art of Woodworking Beginners Guide, we will show you how to choose everything from saws to hand tools and how to use them properly to avoid ending up in the ER.

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