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Frequently Asked Questions
Start your project confidently and get the answers
to some of the most frequently asked questions
regarding wood staining.
Preparation - Dry Time of Mineral Spirits
Q: I’m finishing new oak kitchen cabinets. After sanding I will use mineral spirits to remove sand dust. How long do I have to wait after wiping with mineral spirits to apply stain or clear urethane? Some of my friends told me to wait 24 hours for mineral spirits to evaporate. Is this true?
A: Nope. It varies, depending on temperature, but mineral spirits typically evaporates in fifteen or twenty minutes. Youíll see it when it does. Wood wetted with mineral spirits looks wet. When it looks dry again, you are good to go.
Preparation - Rubbing Out Waterbased Finish on Cabriole Legs
Q: I have a table with Cabriole Legs. What kind of rubbing compound or polishing compound can I use by hand to rub out the water based finish on these curved parts?
A: Any automotive rubbing or polishing compound will work. The tough part will be sanding the legs, since the process of rubbing to gloss starts with sanding the cured finish through the grits from 600 through 1200 before going after the finish with polishing compound. Remember, too, that waterbased coatings take at least a month to cure, and you should wait that long before attempting to rub the legs up to gloss.
Preparation - Using Mucilage and Hot Water to Raise Grain
Q: An old book I inherited recommended using a wash of one ounce of mucilage to a pint of hot water to raise the grain before finishing. The idea is that the water will raise the wood whiskers and that when they are sanded off the dilute glue will prevent new whiskers from forming when using a water based dye or finish. What do you think?
A: Raising the grain is a good step prior to using waterbased dyes or finishes, but adding glue is completely unnecessary and will block stain to some degree. For the record, hereís the grain raising process I follow.
After your last sanding step, wet the wood liberally and thoroughly with clean water, then wipe off any excess so there are no standing water puddles. Let it dry overnight. By morning you will notice a fine fur of raised fibers. Cut them off by sanding very lightly and quickly with 400 grit or finer sandpaper.
The object is only to de-fur the piece, and not sand into the wood below. It is a bit like shaving; you cut off the hairs that stand up, but donít cut into the skin. Once you cut off the shredded and raised fibers, no new ones will be there to rise up provided you donít sand aggressively enough to cut into the wood. Thatís why itís wise to sand very lightly and quickly using 400 or finer grit. That will remove the fur without creating more.
Preparation - Preparing to Strip a 50 Year Old Bedroom Set
Q: How does one prepare to strip a 50 year old bedroom set?
A: First, clean the surface by scrubbing with mineral spirits or TSP on fine nylon abrasive pads. The solvent will remove any surface grease, oil or wax. At that point, you can decide if you want to remove the finish or simply rejuvenate it. Should you decide to remove the finish, use paint remover. If you need more detailed instructions than you will find on the can of stripper, pick up a good book on finishing and refinishing to guide you step by step through the process.
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