Flexner on Finishing: Understanding Stains

Don’t let the dizzying array of choices get you discombobulated.
By Bob Flexner
Pages: 90-93

From the June 2006 issue #155
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Go to any home center and you will probably be offered a choice of four types of stain: oil, varnish, water-based and gel (though the shelf arrangement and labeling of these stains rarely makes this clear).

Go instead to a paint store that caters to the professional painting and finishing trades and you will likely find lacquer stains and NGR (non-grain-raising) dye stains in addition to all or at least some of the stains available at home centers.

Shop at a woodworkers’ store or from a catalog that caters to woodworkers, and to many of the stains already mentioned you can add water-soluble dyes and sometimes alcohol- and oil-soluble dyes.

Instead of buying any of these products to color wood, you could use “natural” stains such as the juice from walnut husks (boiled in water) or berries, or even coffee or tea. Or you could use a chemical such as lye, ammonia or potassium dichromate. (Natural stains fade rapidly; chemicals offer limited colors and are dangerous to use and difficult to control.)

From the June 2006 issue #155
Buy this issue now