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Old 01-13-2020, 11:56 AM   #1
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Why is the wood staining differently on a couple of boards


I'm staining a bunch of Poplar that I am using for trim. I have a bunch of it here to finish you off but I got one batch done. What really threw me off was a couple of the boards took the stain extremely differently. It almost looks like a totally different type of wood. But it's not. This is all popular and purchased at the same lumber yard. I did all of the prep and used wood pre conditioner. I let it set and then wiped off any excess after 15 minutes and began to stain. I used red mahogany by Minwax. I don't understand why a couple of these boards look like they were burnt. Everything looked identical before I stained it. What could be going on with this? I'm afraid to continue staining and ruining some other boards.
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Old 01-13-2020, 01:17 PM   #2
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Re: Why is the wood staining differently on a couple of boards


If you want to preview wood for color or defects just run a coat of mineral spirits on them before any staining. The dark one just look like they didn't have conditioner... as in that is what poplar looks like with a generic oil stain on poplar without conditioner.


BTW you can safely ditch minwax in the can. Plenty of better quality stains out there.
General finishes waterborne hybrid or dye stain for example does not need conditioner on poplar.
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Old 01-13-2020, 01:19 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cocomonkeynuts View Post
If you want to preview wood for color or defects just run a coat of mineral spirits on them before any staining. The dark one just look like they didn't have conditioner... as in that is what poplar looks like with a generic oil stain on poplar without conditioner.


BTW you can safely ditch minwax in the can. Plenty of better quality stains out there.
General finishes waterborne hybrid or dye stain for example does not need conditioner on poplar.
For the future I will probably do that. But I've got enough wood stained right now that I don't want to waste it. I would have to start all over. I did use conditioner though. That's the mystery. I religiously went over every board. Is there a chance that the condition or did not take to the wood? And if so what would those reasons be?
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Old 01-13-2020, 01:34 PM   #4
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Re: Why is the wood staining differently on a couple of boards


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Originally Posted by RetroJoe_1 View Post
For the future I will probably do that. But I've got enough wood stained right now that I don't want to waste it. I would have to start all over. I did use conditioner though. That's the mystery. I religiously went over every board. Is there a chance that the condition or did not take to the wood? And if so what would those reasons be?

Then it probably didn't get sanded the same. If its just a couple boards sand them out and redo the stain. Can't think of a reason for a product to take on one piece but not the others from the same cut.



I don't use minwax products so can't help much more. I use benite or lenmar/General finishes clear base as conditioner.

Here is some lenmar stain (middle) next to minwax on alder so you can see what your missing:

Why is the wood staining differently on a couple of boards-571865077_01.jpg
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Old 01-13-2020, 01:50 PM   #5
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Re: Why is the wood staining differently on a couple of boards


Other than what @cocomonkeynuts has mentioned is that it is due to the actual wood.

Sapwood and Heartwood take stain differently. Looking at the wood that is darker, it is more figured (has more grain pattern) than the others and is probably more sapwood which takes up more of the stain. (or more heartwood, can't remember which is which)

What are you building? Can you hide the darker stained piece somewhere? Or can you cut it done and use smaller pieces of it? Also, try using Naptha or Alcohol to remove some of the stain to lighten it.
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Old 01-13-2020, 02:01 PM   #6
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Re: Why is the wood staining differently on a couple of boards


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Originally Posted by ktownskier View Post
Other than what @cocomonkeynuts has mentioned is that it is due to the actual wood.

Sapwood and Heartwood take stain differently. Looking at the wood that is darker, it is more figured (has more grain pattern) than the others and is probably more sapwood which takes up more of the stain. (or more heartwood, can't remember which is which)

What are you building? Can you hide the darker stained piece somewhere? Or can you cut it done and use smaller pieces of it? Also, try using Naptha or Alcohol to remove some of the stain to lighten it.

Doesn't look like sap/heart wood. Just looks like poplar that took stain unevenly. Look how blotchy it is.


Again an easy way to tell how a piece of wood will stain is to put some spirits on it first. That will highlight any issues or surprises with color or physical defects
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Old 01-13-2020, 05:43 PM   #7
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Re: Why is the wood staining differently on a couple of boards


Poplar isn't normally used for staining because of all the different colors naturally in the wood. More than once I've seen stained poplar that you'd swear was done with a different stain. Occasionally on the same board. Using a wood conditioner first helps but isn't a cure all. Your best bet is to take those darker boards and group them together where the difference won't be as noticeable.
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Old 01-13-2020, 06:16 PM   #8
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Re: Why is the wood staining differently on a couple of boards


That's why Poplar is referred to as paint grade by most woodworkers.

It tends to be more stable than pine when used for trim. It is similar to Alder. Basswood is lighter than both Alder and Poplar.
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Old 01-13-2020, 06:37 PM   #9
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Re: Why is the wood staining differently on a couple of boards


I don't know what kind of wood conditioner you used, but, I know the Minwax says to stain within one hour of applying the conditioner. Not saying that happened in your case, but, you have about one hour of open time.
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Old 01-13-2020, 06:43 PM   #10
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Re: Why is the wood staining differently on a couple of boards


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Originally Posted by Gymschu View Post
I don't know what kind of wood conditioner you used, but, I know the Minwax says to stain within one hour of applying the conditioner. Not saying that happened in your case, but, you have about one hour of open time.

I havn't used the minwax conditioner does it lose effectiveness after that hour?


I mostly use benite where you can come back to stain after 6 months...
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Old 01-14-2020, 06:10 AM   #11
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Re: Why is the wood staining differently on a couple of boards


I usually make my own wood conditioner - 1/2 sanding sealer & 1/2 mineral spirits.
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Old 01-14-2020, 09:36 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Gymschu View Post
I don't know what kind of wood conditioner you used, but, I know the Minwax says to stain within one hour of applying the conditioner. Not saying that happened in your case, but, you have about one hour of open time.
I used the Minwax wood conditioner and I waited 20 minutes, wiped down any excess very lightly and immediately started staining. I didn't even let a half of an hour ago by. That being said, I did use an older bottle of wood conditioner but I didn't think there was some kind of expiration on it. And I did Stir It. Not sure that you have to.
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Old 01-14-2020, 09:37 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by mark sr View Post
I usually make my own wood conditioner - 1/2 sanding sealer & 1/2 mineral spirits.
I'm not familiar with sanding sealer. Where can you get that? And with this mix that you make, how long do you have after you apply it to put the stain on? Minwax gives you between an hour and two hours.
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Old 01-14-2020, 09:38 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by ktownskier View Post
That's why Poplar is referred to as paint grade by most woodworkers. [IMG class=inlineimg]https://www.diychatroom.com/images/smilies/biggrin.png[/IMG]

It tends to be more stable than pine when used for trim. It is similar to Alder. Basswood is lighter than both Alder and Poplar.
I'm regretting using poplar for the staining right now. I know some boards have more green color in them than others. Seems like Pine, even though it's a bit softer, stains more evenly. But I'm using this as Trim in a bathroom and I thought that the poplar would be more stable. Even though in the end I'm going to be putting Poly on it.
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Old 01-14-2020, 09:53 AM   #15
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Re: Why is the wood staining differently on a couple of boards


With today's lumber quality and attempting to stain Poplar I think you were fortunate and did very well to only have a couple of pieces to reject. This could be a inexpensive lesson learned about selecting lumber from a stack of most any species.
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