Applying Stain & Varnish Basics

Applying Stain & Varnish Basics Featured image

Let’s take a look at the basics of applying stain and varnish. A careless finishing job can ruin the appearance of the most careful work. On the other hand, a skillful finisher can often make less-than-perfect woodworking look better. It always pays to put your best efforts into finishing.

Why bother to finish wood?

Let’s face, wood grain can be pretty sexy. Staining the color of the wood and highlighting the grain are important steps to gorgeous wood, so much that applying stain and varnish can make even inexpensive wood look like an exotic wild species. Clear finishes let you see the wood and give the even the most boring of grains a rich, fabulous look. Clear finishes, however, do more than just make wood look exquisite. A high quality and effective finish will protect wood from either soaking up or releasing moisture too quickly. When moisture is absorbed or expelled too quickly this spells bad news for wood, leading to problems such as cracking, warping, or even the potential for loose joints. Effective wood finishes also protect against dirt, oxidation, spills, and stains. Also, when you properly finish wood it is easy to clean the surface since you can just wipe off dirt off of it that might otherwise penetrate or stain.

Skimping on the prep work is a bad move

Don’t want your wood to hate you? Make sure you don’t skimp on the prep work. Remember, the final look of a beautiful wood finish is always created through a variety of steps that you can’t see! First meticulously sand to a smooth surface, followed by exacting removal of all dust prior to staining, dying or applying the clear coat. Lightly sand inbetween coats, making sure to remove all of the dust, and be certain to keep your work area spotless while you work.

A good finishing location will help

Should you be lucky enough to have your own work shop you can do the majority of your final preparation at the workbench you most likely have in there, this does for sanding as well. Even so, you must be extremely careful to remove all loose dirt of their particles before you finish your wood. You can also work in a garage or your basement for these final steps however, stay away from your furnace or heater, as the fine particles or fumes from your finish coat can be flammable or explosive. Always be safe, make sure you have appropriate ventilation and of course bright lighting.

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