Iím having a problem getting some hard maple to stain up without blotching. Iím using Minwax oil base stain # 218 for the color that the customer has chosen. I have tried applying the stain after sanding to 320. I have tried applying after using sanding sealer. I have even tried water base stain with conditioner. I wouldnít buy my doors. This is the first time I have had to put a color on maple, and I have only done them with clear finish in the past.
Try a sample piece and sand with 180 grit paper. Then wash-coat with 1 part sealer and 3 parts thinner just spray a regular wet coat, donít load it up, sand lightly with 220 stearated paper, then apply the wipe stain. You may need to allow the stain to dry some before wiping.
I tried sealing with linseed oil. That worked ok, but didn't give the smooth, even results I was looking for.
I finally found some Zinsser Bulls Eye Shellac.... it worked great. For my application I used the "Amber" shellac. They also have a clear, which is a bleached shellac.
The Zinsser worked just great. The Bartlett Gel stain and the secondary stain went on just fine. There was no blotching or unevenness.
I usually mix up my own shellac, but I found the Zinsser to work fine in this application. I'm assuming itís dewaxed but neither the can nor Zinsser's web site says one way or the other.
I have even dumped Minwax stain into Duravar (a catalyzed lacquer made by M. L. Campbell) but I would never condone that mixing to someone else.
But for regular lacquer that is going to be sprayed, I think that you can get away with the Minwax/lacquer mix. I do not make a practice of doing this. For me, Minwax is a last resort. Minwax stains are not formulated for production use (they dry way too slow and the linseed oil base of their stains vs. the alkyd base of commercial stains makes the Minwax stains an "iffy" stain to use in a catalyzed finish system).
Bob Niemeyer, forum technical advisor
Next, since the original questioner already has a stain that his picky customer has approved, I offered my quick and easy remedy to be used thus once, and to be used with a nitrocellulose lacquer finish schedule.
While the idea may be a little funny sounding - and I already said that this is not a practice that I would want to use except as a last resort - it can be done and it can be done successfully. The idea is to be careful in the amounts of Minwax that you dump into your lacquer.
The issue with Minwax as a chosen stain is that many of their colors are combinations of dye and pigment all in the same liquid vehicle. To suggest to someone who may not have a lot of colorants on hand and may not have the needed color mixing experience to nail a suitable toner that will come close to matching the Minwax is not always practical. Sure it is great to learn the right way to go about this.
Using the Minwax will work and then once this project is done perhaps the original questioner will want to investigate proper colorants and mixing schemes.
Now, here is a real maverick approach that I used once -- and I do not condone it despite its success -- you can dump Minwax into some lacquer thinner and add this to your Duravar (M. L. Campbell's catalyzed lacquer) to make a toner. This was a last resort for me and I had no other choice. The surface was a desktop that is getting lots of use and wear, and the coating is performing quite nicely two years down the road.
In closing, yes dumping in the Minwax can be done. No results are guaranteed and there is always a wild card of unpredictability present when you venture off the tech sheets. I did include this caveat when I made my suggestions so it's not like I was advising school kids to walk in wet cement.
From the original questioner
I would like to say that using the Minwax stain is not absolute. The customer handed me a sample of maple with that particular color on it and asked if I could match that color. That was my first try and that is how I came about to asking the question. If I showed them my sample door that had a different type of stain on it and the color was close, Iím 99% sure that it would not be a problem, for them or myself.
I am impressed with level of knowledge that is out there and the willingness to help those that donít have it. My experience has grown, but with allot of choices to make. I would like to try to stay with the WB scenario for the safety issues if I can, although the conventional OB seems to be hard to beat. I think that as long as the end product comes out the way I would like it to, that will be the main thing. As craftsmen we are our own worst critics and must live with our choices. I am in the process of trying some different samples of finish and stain that I have received and will let everybody know how it turned out.
As far as shellac goes, I would never touch the stuff. The store bought shellac will never come close to giving you a good durable finish like conversion or lacquer. With all the things you can do to lacquers, why even use shellac? I can match any kind of shellac with dye and lacquer. On top of that, I can finish it before the first coat of shellac even dries. It takes too much time, and time equals money. Donít let these die hard shellac users tell you that fresh shellac is just as durable as a pre-cat lacquer, not to mention all the steps you have to do to before you even apply it on your surface. Iíll stick popping open a 5 gallon bucket and spraying. I hope I didnít upset anyone who likes doing things the old way, in my business there is no time for old ways. I donít think the old ways look as good as what you can do now with wood.
Comment from contributor A:
Maple, because of its pore structure, is one of the most difficult woods to finish. I would finish sand to 320 grit, then wet with clean distilled water, then allow to dry. By doing this you have already allowed the pores to aborb the water. Lightly sand, then apply a water-based aniline dye, rather than an oil-based stain. You will find the results much more gratifying. The dye will color the maple evenly, allowing the grain to be the most visible.