i have a bunch of African mahogany doors for a kitchen to stain fairly dark, I have stained the boxes and center island straight to the wood. these are all false louvers so when I stain and seal the grain raises pretty good. and takes a bit of sanding which can lead to cutting through the stain. would a 10% or so wash coat help prior to staining or any other tricks.thanks
Jim, you didn't say, but looks like you're using a waterbase stain? You will often hear the suggestions to wet the wood to purposely raise the grain, knock it back, and then stain. A faster and just as effective approach would be to stain and then put on the seal coat. The seal coat keeps the fibers in the raised position, making it easier to sand smooth. This works with whatever sealer you are using, shellac, nitro, etc.
Jim - I see a few different types of wiping stains on the Mohawk site but they are all solvent based and should not raise the grain. Maybe it's just the wood...(?) I've had rare cases where the wood got crazy nibs when I sprayed the sealer - see the attached picture. I just sanded carefully and re-coated. It ended up taking an extra coat - I had to sand the second coat aggressively to get it smooth.
If you use a wash coat on the wood before staining it will lighten the color quite a bit. You could replace the color with a shading stain or toner, but it will look different than the cab boxes and island. It's best to use the same steps on everything to avoid the job being rejected.
Is the wood still smooth after you wipe the stain (the grain raises when you spray the clear)? If so, try dusting the sealer on until it forms a coat that you can sand (very thin coats - just wet enough to wet the surface of the stained wood before it flashes off).
Anything come to mind that might explain why the grain is raising?
Jim - I thought of another idea you can try. Add a little fast drying polyurethane or boiled linseed oil (BLO) to your stain. Normally you'd want to take into account that linseed oil dries slowly and can cause adhesion problems if you topcoat it too soon. But you're using vinyl sealer and that will take care of the potential problem.
A basic stain consists of a binder, pigment, and lots of solvent. The stains we use typically have a very weak binder that dries fast and doesn't seal the wood. By adding the polyurethane or drying oil, the stain will seal the wood and stop it from swelling when you apply the finish. Note that the added poly/oil binder will also glue the pigment to the wood much stronger so you won't be able to go back and easily fix streaks, drips, smears, glue spots, and scratches before you topcoat
Add the fast dry poly or BLO at 5% - 10% by volume and use the stain per usual. If you use the linseed oil, take precaution against spontaneous combustion by laying the stain rags out flat or submerging in water until the stain dries.
I recently had some cabinets made with cheap oak veneered ply come in for finishing. The grain was fine after staining, but the first coat of sealer pulled whiskers up out of the veneer. Which, of course, cut off white when we scuffed. The very thin sealer coats like Paul mentioned avoided it. I think the 'pull' of the shrinking sealer lifted the whiskers.
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