View Full Version : Wood finishing question?

Taylor Tarvin
02-10-2008, 05:16 PM
I'm making a table for a vessel sink for a friend of mine. The legs and skirt are mahogany and the top is cherry (the choise of wood is my friends). Normally I wouldn't stain mahogany but my friend and his wife want it finished with a rather dark stain. I'm at the point of assembling the bottom and am trying to decide whether or not to stain the pieces before assembly. Any thoughts as to the pros and cons of staining prior to putting a piece together? Thanks

Memphis Mike
02-10-2008, 06:14 PM
I've done a bit of furniture refinishing. It's easier to stain before you assemble. Stain is very runny and will get on the parts that you don't want it on if you're not careful. I always apply stain with a cotton rag or even an old sock. Too many drips with a brush.

Bob Smalser
02-10-2008, 06:19 PM
Any thoughts as to the pros and cons of staining prior to putting a piece together? Thanks

Staining beforehand saves a lot of ugly mess if you use a gummy glue like Titebond.

Use a water-based stain or aniline due in case you drip some on a gluing surface. It won't interfere with glue as badly as oil-based stains do.

If you decide to assemble before staining, use UF resin or hide glue as they sand nicely and squeezeout remnants won't blotch the stain like Titebond.

02-11-2008, 11:53 AM
Not only should you stain (if you must) before assembly, but you should also put on a couple of coats of the top coat. It makes getting a beautiful even finish much easier, AND any glue squeeze out can be easilly popped off of the finished piece w/o marring the wood.

George Roberts
02-11-2008, 12:15 PM
Don't stain at all.

Taylor Tarvin
02-11-2008, 01:46 PM
I agree George but the friends I'm doing this for want it stained. Just started the process I'll see how it goes.

John of Phoenix
02-11-2008, 02:35 PM
I run into this all the time with projects for friends - they want a beautiful piece of wood to be hidden with some glop from Ace hardware. They must think it HAS to be stained. Try this - take a scrap piece and finish to their specs - a dark glob with no visible grain. Then finish another piece the way you think it should be done and have them compare. If they still choose the glob, fine - you've appeased the wood gods and it's not your karma that bears the burden.

As to your original question - stain before or after glue up - the problem really seems to be how to get a uniform finish around the glue joints. Or to be exact, how to handle the squeeze out.

I forget who passed this along many years ago, but thanks again to whoever it was.

If you're using an oil based finish (varnish, oil, stain), carefully rub paraffin (a white candle will do) on the faces of the joint you want to protect before glue up. It prevents the squeezed out glue or epoxy from soaking into the wood and altering the finish yet it will dissolve when the finish is applied.

Worked like a champ for me.


Taylor Tarvin
02-12-2008, 10:25 AM
Thanks for the advice everyone. You might say the dye is cast, started last night.

John, I had already done what you recommended. All the furniture I have done from mahogany is finished natural. We have a table made of mahogany in our front hall that is finished with a dark stain. I show them all the pieces finished clear and they went for the one piece finished dark. Go figure. BTW those are great looking doors!

Paul Girouard
02-12-2008, 10:42 AM
Worked like a champ for me.


Fugly door bottoms / sweeps though:D

Bob Triggs
02-13-2008, 01:34 AM
Behlen's Solar Lux NGR dyes

methanol base
Fast drying
Non fading
easy to control
any finish covers it well.

I would not stain or dye joinery areas that will receive glue-up
I would work hard to prevent glue contamination of areas that will show.
Hide Glue might be a very good choice for this project.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
02-13-2008, 05:00 AM
I may as well confess - much of Mirelle's interior is swirly grained iroko, with a "teak" stain. The rest is either light oak or real teak. Of course, boat cabins are joinery, not cabinet making. It has fooled a few surveyors. I incorrectly stained after (epoxy) gluing and gave myself a lot fo extra work! :)

Taylor Tarvin
02-13-2008, 08:56 AM
Andrew, the friends I'm making the table for are Brits. Is there something in your collective pasts that attracts you to dark wood?