Staining The Bench

I stained the seat and the back rest before assembling the Shaker Bench. That way I didn't have to tape the spindles or worry that the stain would bleed under the tape.

precautions. I took a couple of precautions before staining. One was to sand all the parts up to 320-grit sandpaper. This helps the cherry to accept the stain evenly across the face and the end grain.

Cherry stains don't usually look like naturally-aged cherry. But I found a gel stain that does.

I also took another simple precaution. (I tend to be very careful when it comes to finishing a project.) I plugged the holes in the seat, see photo above. I did this to keep the stain from seeping in and preventing the glue from bonding when I glued in the spindles. (But since the stain is thick and dries quickly. I doubt that you'd have any problems if you left the plugs out)

raising the grain. Using a water-based stain also requires another step before you begin — you have to raise the grain.

When wood gets wet the loose fibers stand up like whiskers. So you have to "pre-wet" the project, and then lightly sand off the whiskers before using a ivater-based stain.

I wiped both the seat and rail with a damp rag. Then after the wood had dried, I lightly sanded the surface again with 320-grit paper. Don't sand too much, or you 11 expose new fibers and have the same problem again.

applying the stain. At this point, the cherry is ready to be stained. I found the Liquitex stain dries very quickly, and lap marks can be a problem. So to extend the drying time, I lightly misted the wood with a spray bottle of water before applying the stain. Then I squirted on the Liquitex stain and wiped it in with a cloth, see photo.

I worked one large section at a time, starting with the concave section on top. From there I stained the flat section (with the holes). Then the edges, and finally, the bottom.

The best time to even out lap marks and light areas is while the stain is still wet. For this, I use the same rag as I used for staining, but lightly dampened with additional stain. And to avoid swirl marks, I always wiped the stain with the grain — not in circles.

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