An Awesome Finish For Pine
One of the most popular looks for pine lumber is the old school "honey pine" look. In my opinion, it gives the lumber an antique, aged look. If you look at antique pine pieces you will see what I mean. Luckily, with modern gel stains, you can achieve this look pretty easily. Check out the video below to see my finish recipe.
Step 1: Surface Preparation
When staining wood, you don't want to sand the surface any higher than 150 to 180 grit. The higher you go, the less the stain penetrates the surface. The end grain will absorb more finish than face grain so make sure you sand it really well. In some cases, woodworkers will even sand end grain 1 grit finer than what they sanded the face grain with. For instance, if you sand the face grain up to 150 grit, they would sand the end grain up to 180 grit.
Remember how I said the higher the grit, the less the stain will penetrate? Well, that's what we want on the end grain. This should give us an even stain appearance on all surfaces of the board.
Step 2: Staining
It's no secret that i'm a fan of gel stains for staining blotchy woods. It's not the only way to achieve a good finish on blotchy woods, but it's the way that I prefer to finish my pieces. In my opinion, it's just faster to use gel stains instead of having to apply some form of blotch control and then applying the stain.
For this finish, I used the General Finishes Golden Pine gel stain. With the surfaced prepped, I applied the first coat using a cheap 2 inch wide chip brush. The goal with the gel stains is to flood the surface, so it doesn't really matter how you apply it. With the surface covered in the stain, I wiped it all off with some paper towels. Be sure to remove all of the excess stain so it doesn't dry and leave streaks on the surface.
About 4-6 hours later, I applied a second and final coat using the same methods that I described above. The more coats you add, the more intense the finish will appear on the board. I recommend that you always use a sample board and test this finish to find the right about of coats for your taste.
Step 3: Top Coat
With the gel stain completely dry you can apply pretty much any top coat over it. If you are using a water based top coat, you will need to wait a minimum of 72 hours after you apply the last coat for it to completely dry according to General Finishes website. But if you are using an oil based finish like a polyurethane, you should be able to apply it after about 12-24 hours depending on your environment. Again, using a sample board takes all the guessing out of it.
My go-to top coat is General Finishes Arm-r-Seal in semi-gloss. It's a nice, durable finish that's easy to apply with a cotton rag. I buy a "bag of rags" which usually last me a year. I typically apply 3 coats on surfaces that will get some wear and tear.
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