Fast Finishing

Water-based stains are the key to an easy-to-apply finish. And best of all, you can start in the morning and be done in the afternoon.

h ow would you like to apply stain to a project like this table in the morning, a clear top coat in the afternoon, and have it out of the shop by the end of the clay? The secret behind this fast finishing technique is water-based stains and finishes.

Besides speed, water-based stains have a couple of other things going for them. First of all, they add a deep, clear color to wood. Second, there aren't any fumes that can make the whole house smell like stain. Finally, water-based stains and finishes are safer. Brushes or rags won't spontaneously combust, and all it takes to clean up is a little dish soap and some warm water.

By now, you're probably thinking that this sounds like the perfect finishing system. And it does have a lot of advantages, but there are a few drawbacks as well. First, water-based products raise the grain of the project which can leave you with a "whiskered" surface.

Another problem you may encounter is blotching and lap marks. This is caused by fast, uneven penetration. But don't

Thick â– water-based stains (shown on the left) penetrate slowly giving you time to wipe off the excess. Thinner stains (right) require a wood conditioner.

worry, there are a few simple steps you can take to get rich, even color and a smooth finish.

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