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The Chris Schwarz Blog

Hand Tools, Hand Work & Book Reviews
Lee Valley & Veritas

Staining Wood 101

A primer on coloring.
By Bob Flexner
Pages: 60-62

From the December 2010 issue # 187
Buy this issue now

A wood stain is a colorant (pigment or dye) and a binder (some sort of finish) with a lot of thinner added so the excess stain is easy to wipe off. This leaves some color in or on the wood.

A stain can also be just dye and thinner with no binder added.

Pigment is ground earth or colored synthetic particles, so it requires a binder to glue it to the wood. Pigment settles to the bottom of the can and has to be stirred into suspension before use.

Dye is a colorant dissolved in a liquid, so dye penetrates along with the liquid and doesn’t need a binder. Coffee and tea are examples of weak dyes.

Article: Learn how to properly sand to prepare your wood for stain.
To buy: Bob’s new book, “Flexner on Finishing,” includes 12 years’ worth of updated finishing columns.
Web site: Read more of our finishing articles.