Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It Can Be Kind Of A Pain To Work With Stain

I'm being generous when I say "it can kind of be a pain to work with stain." Nightmare is more accurate :-) When my husband and I first bought our home we were moving from a small apartment that I lived in my last year of college. Most of our furniture was an eclectic mix of Goodwill finds that we really didn't want to keep after college nor take to the new house. However, having just paid for a house downpayment, new furniture wasn't in the budget. We graciously acquired some quality, although outdated, pieces of hand-me-down furniture from my husband's parents which included a coffee table and matching end tables. Eventually we sold the coffee table and replaced it, but I didn't think we would end up keeping the two matching ends tables for as long as we have. They are made of really solid wood and very functional for either end tables or nightstands. Well, I couldn't bring myself to sell these just because they were a little outdated for my tastes, so I decided to restain the tops of them. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. These babies were pain to work with and I unfortunately tried a new staining technique I had seen online. I had read that a rag or towel works great for applying stain to wood. Sadly, mine just ended up being a shedding cloth mess. It initially took me two hours to sand and stain because of the cloth I used (you have to apply dozens of coats of stain as each one only applys a small layer of stain, unlike a paintbrush were you can coat it on thicker). The cloth didn't start shedding until I was almost done and the stain was dark, making it harder to see the pieces of dark cloth getting stuck to the finish. Sigh. I had to redo the whole thing the next day. Fortunately the stain had set into the wood nicely so the real work was sanding off all the tiny pieces of dried cloth. Afterwards it only took me two quick coats of stain. I think it was worth it though, I love the darker finish as opposed to the original light wood finish. It will be awhile before I conquer more stain projects though :-). Now for the pictures.


1st step was to sand the thin layer of sealant on the wood and to cover the base of the nightstand to prevent unwanted paint mishaps.

I used Rustoleum stain in the American Walnut color. I had an old paint tray that I poured the stain into and used a foam brush after my 1st attempt failed using a stain cloth for application.

I applied many layers of stain so that it wouldn't have a thick paint appearance. It took a lot of patience and time!

Making progress!

=(  This is what happened during the first day of staining. The cloth I was using started to shed and since the cloth and stain were dark colored, I didn't notice it until it was too late. I had to let it dry and then sand it all off the next day. Fortunately, the stain had set into the wood so I only had to apply 2 layers of stain after I sanded the top.  Chalk it up to a learning experience!

On the 2nd day of staining I had to go out and get a new paint tray. Fortunately, our local dollar stores sells them. The check-out clerk advised me of a clever trick - line the paint tray with tinfoil for easy clean up and re-use of the tray! Brilliant! 
For the knobs, I just rolled them in the tray of leftover stain and then used a brush for the bottom portion of the knobs. Anyone recommend a better trick? Although, this seemed to work fairly well.

Did I throw you for a loop with the Raisin Bran pictures? =)  Look closely, it's actually a drying box for the knobs!  I used an empty cereal box and poked four holes with a screwdriver and then pushed the attached nail of the knob through each hole to let the knobs dry. 

After 1 major failed attempt to stain correctly (ie, application towel shedding and ruining the finish), 2 trips to Lowe's, 1 trip to the dollar store, and letting everything dry overnight, here are the newly improved nightstands!



Have you ever worked with wood stain before? Would love to see links to any projects you've completed similar to this one. Happy Tuesday!

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