Obscuring Grain and Figure

Basic advice on finishing wood so that what's underneath doesn't show. June 22, 2012

I have a trim job starting this week for a customer. They want a dark, rich color with very little grain showing. I've never done a job like that. I usually do very little staining. Mostly spray-on lacquer. I've been trying to learn anything I can on the procedure and the best information I could find is "Staining and Blending Difficult Woods - Alder, Birch, Maple, Poplar, and..." in the Knowledge Base.

Staining and Blending Difficult Woods

My spraying equipment consists of a st390 Graco sprayer I use for spraying lacquer, and a cheap top gravity gun I use for spraying on stain. I know I need to upgrade my spraying equipment. Being that they want little grain showing, I have the option of using whatever kind of wood I choose. What type of wood would work best for the procedure I want to do? And what would be a good spray gun to pick up? I don't need any high production equipment. Just an all-around or close-to-it versatile gun.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor L:
What do you mean by "grain"? Do you mean the figure in the wood, i.e. cathedral flames? Or grain as in the pores and such (something like an oak grain that has deep pores which show through the finish). Maple has a very small pore, so you get a very flat finish. It also has a pretty muted grain which does have a dramatic appearance.

From the original questioner:
Yes... The figure in the wood. They're mainly looking for a deep dark brown, such as the top 2 shades.

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From contributor L:
Stain it lighter than the final color. Then use a shading lacquer to get the final color and depth. This will paint on the color and block the grain. The more pigments in the shading lacquer, the more the grain will be blocked. More dyes will yield a more transparent color.

From contributor J:
Use poplar moulding - it's readily available. Get some Sherwin Williams wiping stain in a dark color. It will work great. This stain has a very high solids content which lets it stain the pesky woods very evenly.