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Hi Everyone,

I am finishing up the construction of a bookcase/shelving unit (roughly hip height but wide), which is made of mostly (98%) pine (except for some pieces that were ripped from 2x4s [not pressure-treated of course]).  Looking ahead at what I will do to finish the piece, I originally thought prime and paint it white, but a relative saw it and felt that painting it would be a shame as it would hide the nice grain of the pine, so he suggested staining at least the top of the unit.

I know from what I have read that staining pine can be tricky because it tends to  be blotchy.  I know about sanding well and using a wood conditioner before staining to help even how the wood absorbs the stain.

The main question is, after this preparation, can I stain it a dark color (i.e., Minwax Red Mahogany), or is staining pine a dark color a total "no no"?  Does it need to be a light stain?

I know to use a test piece first.

I just don't want to mess anything up.  I've painted lots of things but never stained a thing and want to make sure I do a nice job.  

I really could use some help.  Thanks everybody!

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Hey Keith,

In staining blotchy woods (maple/pine etc.), I spray the stain, you actually tone the wood.  You don't want the stain to absorb, you want the stain to dry as fast as possible and not absorb into the open grain, that's where your blotch comes from.  I buy concentrated stain from transtint dyes and mix it with denatured alcohol then spray it.  A 2oz. bottle is around $20, but it yields a gallon of dye. (I mix the stain with a whole gallon of alcohol)  If you have an air compressor, woodcraft sells a decent gun for $40 and it works very well.  You apply thin coats until you reach the color that you want.  I now also swear by oil modified poly by Minwax, it dries like lacquer, water cleanup and is very durable.  This is how I stain my cabinets and the topcoat I use.  I think there are some things on Youtube about it and you can also check out some pictures on my page.  Hope this helps.

thanks, Justin....the Minwax poly you are referring to --- that's the "water-based oil modified" poly, or their "polycrylic" product?

anybody else have any opinions?

It is true that pine can be very tricky to accept a stain.   If the table is still in the assembly stage,  have you considered making the top from Oak?   I made a table last year for first time out of pine with a oak top.   The body of the table was painted and I stained the top.   Should be a picture here if you need a visual.   I know that does not help with your pine staining question.   I have just had very little success staining pine so I know your concern.

Hi Keith. Justin and Rita are right,I have been spraying and brushing stain on ,I prefer to use a brush then wipe after a certain amount of soaking time,the soaking time is important just allow all the pieces the same amount of time. I have been using the varathane poly,I really like it a lot more than the minwax and I almost always use sherwin Williams Sherwood BAC wiping stains, I have had great sucsess and it comes out great.hope that helps

@ Rita --->  unfortunately while it is still technically still in construction (only one or two more small steps before fully constructed), the top has already been made and attached, so the Oak top, while a nice idea, won't help me here....thanks anyway :-)

@ Rich---> I will have to look into the products you referred to.  Maybe I'll give them a shot instead of the Minwax


is that Varathane poly the brush on spray can version?

Hi Keith. I buy it by the gallon then spray it on ,several coats and sand very lightly every 2coats. 3 -4 coats generally is what I do and the finish is excellent. Spraying is the best way you will really like to outcome.

your biggest challenge is the varied grain opening in pine. some open areas will suck it in while others are tighter and won't get too dark. try some of this first.

Water based Oil Modified is what you want.
Keith Woythaler said:

thanks, Justin....the Minwax poly you are referring to --- that's the "water-based oil modified" poly, or their "polycrylic" product?

anybody else have any opinions?

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