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  • Any stainmasters here?

    Perhaps I should have looked up some of the how to stain poplar articles before I picked the wood, but here I am. I've done a couple applications of minwax ebony stain to these, and they're not really turning out how I want them to yet. Any ideas on how to make these more even / rich / dark, keeping in mind I have pretty limited resources for money and tooling, but plenty of time.

    ​Here's how they look after a single application. The second application of stain looks a little darker, but not as much as I would have expected. The end grain is pretty much black, but the rest is staying pretty much like this. Currently I plan on doing some light sanding with 220 / 400 grit, then applying another application or 6 of the stain

    Click image for larger version

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    Electronics engineer, woofer enthusiast, and musician.
    Wogg Music

  • #2
    Did you use the pre-treatment for stains? I highly recommend that. If the wood is oily, a master finisher recommended wiping on and off a coat of paint thinner (naphtha), letting it dry, and then proceed with your stain.

    Later,
    Wolf
    "Wolf, you shall now be known as "King of the Zip ties." -Pete00t
    "Wolf and speakers equivalent to Picasso and 'Blue'" -dantheman
    "He is a true ambassador for this forum and speaker DIY in general." -Ed Froste
    "We're all in this together, so keep your stick on the ice!" - Red Green aka Steve Smith

    *InDIYana event website*

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Wolf View Post
      Did you use the pre-treatment for stains? I highly recommend that. If the wood is oily, a master finisher recommended wiping on and off a coat of paint thinner (naphtha), letting it dry, and then proceed with your stain.

      Later,
      Wolf
      ​Yeah... no. Probably should have, but I learned about that bit reading the poplar articles after hitting them with stain. At this point I can let them dry overnight, hit them with some high grit sanding and mineral spirits or other thinner, then continue staining cycles?
      Electronics engineer, woofer enthusiast, and musician.
      Wogg Music

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      • #4
        I've used Minwax Ebony stain and it turned the wood pretty much black instantly. I didn't like ebony for this reason, and found I like Varathane Espresso much better for a dark wood colour. I have to ask a stupid question - did you shake and stir the can before use? If the can wasn't shaken/stirred that would certainly explain the results.

        Apart from that, as others have said, the wood should be cleaned before applying stain. I wipe down with acetone myself, it evaporates very quickly. Then saturate the wood with stain. I don't think I've ever done more than one coat with stain, just apply liberally - soak the wood in it.
        Don't waste your money on a new set of speakers, you get more mileage from a cheap pair of sneakers. Next phase, new wave, dance craze, anyways it's still rock and roll to me!

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        • #5
          Poplar is very forgiving. It can be colored to match many woods. A lot of cabinetmakers use it to face the edges of veneered plywood. When I was building kitchen cabinets years ago the most popular were cherry, the oaks, pecan(it was really hickory), and of course maples(this is Vt after all). No problems matching the poplar to them, and it machines real nice. I think if you put a nice warm halogen worklight on it, give it a wipe w/solvent(even now) and stain again, you'll be fine.
          Last edited by davidB; 09-02-2017, 06:50 PM. Reason: sp

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          • #6
            Gel stain works well on poplar and other unruly woods like pine and some maple. You can control the color by how much you leave on the surface.
            John H

            SLS-85, BMR-3L, Mini-TL, BR-2, Titan OB, B452, Udique, Vultus, Latus1, Seriatim, Aperivox,Pencil Tower

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            • #7
              Stain has pigments, think of pigments as small particles of color that get lodged into scratches in the wood. If you sand too smooth there are fewer places for the pigments to get lodged and left behind, so most of the pigments get wiped off of the wood when you wipe with a rag etc.

              The reason the end grain is darker than the top is because there are more places on the end the grain for the pigments to get lodged.

              Take a scrap piece of wood and try only sanding to 180 or lower to test if the results are darker.

              Sanding the end grain to one grit higher may help even the color between top and end grain..

              As jhollander said gel stain is another option.
              Last edited by mike s; 09-02-2017, 09:18 PM. Reason: add gel stain comment

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              • #8
                I never have much luck w/ Minwax finishes, I always felt they turned out quite a bit lighter than I anticipated.

                I'd avoid pre-stains, as they will likely prevent deep penetration of your stain. They'd give you a more even result, less blotchy, but overall not as dark/rich.

                I know a lot of woodworkers use black ink if they want a very dark finish. But India ink can be expensive.

                Whatever you end-up with, keep in mind that dark stains can lift quite a bit when it is time to apply your final finish. Even if the stain has dried quite a while.

                A spray of your first coat of finish or some spray shellac can lock it all down. After that, you can apply more finish with a brush or via wiping or whatever your preferred method.

                And remember the first, second, and third rules of finishing: Test, test, test on scraps. Gets your finishing schedule set before working on your project.

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                • #9
                  Did you stir up the stain before using it, because it almost looks like most of the pigment had settled on the bottom of the can.

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                  • #10
                    Thanks everyone! I'm thinking my main error was over sanding with 320 grit, then not surface cleaning with a solvent on the first pass. I hit them with mineral spirits and another good soaking last night and they're much better, the grain is starting to show as intended through the darkness. What if I use a brown tinted (walnut or even espresso) oil poly on these instead of clear? I'm thinking that would add some more richness. Sent from my SM-G920P using Tapatalk
                    Last edited by wogg; 09-03-2017, 10:29 AM.
                    Electronics engineer, woofer enthusiast, and musician.
                    Wogg Music

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                    • #11
                      Ahh, that's looking pretty nice!

                      Don't feel bad, I've had issues with uneven color as well.

                      Now, whenever I use any stain on solid wood, I always use a pre-stain on the wood... it allows whatever you do to be even on the face- as well as the end-grain. That's my biggest peeve with staining solid wood... the end grain soaks up the stain through it's 'straws' and looks so much darker than the rest of it. Using a pre-stain fixes that mostly. Happens even on oak, a very hard wood.

                      Also, like Phil mentioned...even after you put poly on, you can scuff slightly and apply more stain to the areas you want, then spray on a few quick coats of poly to 'seal' it so you won't rub it off when you apply more clear. I've done that before as a fix with no issues. As long as you haven't built up much clear, it won't look weird.

                      But those are looking pretty nice, sometimes you just gotta stick with it! Man, I almost always have some issue with finish work, glad I'm not alone!

                      TomZ
                      *Veneering curves, seams, using heat-lock iron on method *Trimming veneer & tips *Curved Sides glue-up video
                      *Part 2 *Gluing multiple curved laminations of HDF *Cello's Speaker Project Page

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                      • #12
                        If you add a colorant to a clear coat the "clear coat" becomes a "toner".

                        Minwax Polyshades is a colored polyurethane

                        http://www.minwax.com/wood-products/stains-color-guide/

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                        • #13
                          That's what I got, Bombay Mahogany PolyShades, and applied it this evening over that ebony stain. I'm going to sand / coat / sand / coat until I like it.
                          Electronics engineer, woofer enthusiast, and musician.
                          Wogg Music

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                          • #14
                            No sir... don't like it. The color is good, the texture is bad. I hit a small portion and a test block with the 400 grit paper I had, which drastically changes the color. First, I have to turn off my manstinct to avoid directions since the can says natural bristle brush and light coat and I used a foam brush and a thick coat. It also says steel wool for smoothing, so I suppose I can go get that, some 0000 I imagine. Or... perhaps I should just sand it back smooth and put another coat on with the proper brush. Sent from my SM-G920P using Tapatalk
                            Electronics engineer, woofer enthusiast, and musician.
                            Wogg Music

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                            • #15
                              You will raise the grain a bit.
                              Wolf
                              "Wolf, you shall now be known as "King of the Zip ties." -Pete00t
                              "Wolf and speakers equivalent to Picasso and 'Blue'" -dantheman
                              "He is a true ambassador for this forum and speaker DIY in general." -Ed Froste
                              "We're all in this together, so keep your stick on the ice!" - Red Green aka Steve Smith

                              *InDIYana event website*

                              Photobucket pages:
                              http://photobucket.com/Wolf-Speakers_and_more

                              My blog/writeups/thoughts here at PE:
                              http://techtalk.parts-express.com/blog.php?u=4102

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