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Staining bare wood is a wonderful way to bring out the grain of the wood whether furniture or floors. But before you stain furniture or a floor you must be sure the wood is completely stripped. This can be done using a heavy bodied or semi-paste water soluble stripper. For vertical grooved surfaces the heavy bodied stripper will work best while the semi paste is strong enough to remove epoxies and polyurethanes. After the item is stripped you will need to scour the entire surface with gum turpentine and No. 20 steel wool. Be sure to work deep into any crevices in the item and leave the turpentine on for no less than 5 minutes before removing it with a dry cloth. When this is complete the surface will need to dry for 24 hours. Then lightly sand the surface with a very fine sandpaper being sure you move with the grain. If the stripped wood is darker than you would like for it to be you will need to bleach it. If you would like the wood to be darker, you should choose a stain that will create the color you are attempting to achieve. To begin you will need to fill in any dents or nicks with wood filler that is the color the wood will be when finished.

The least expensive of the three types of wood stains available is a water stain, which comes in a powdered form and has to be mixed with boiling water. But with this type of stain it is necessary for you to raise the wood grain and sand it before applying the stain. If this is the stain you have chosen you can raise the grain of your wood by sponging the surface with warm water. Allow the wood to dry for three hours and then sand with No 220 sand paper. Wipe the surface clean and apply your stain with a spray gun, cloth or brush. You will need to work fast when using this stain since it dries quickly.

Another type of stain is alcohol stain. These leave a sharp, bright color, don't raise the wood grain and are inexpensive. But alcohol stains are not as color fast as water stains and must be applied quickly with a spray gun for best results. When you apply an alcohol stain you will need to begin by coating the end grain with a high gloss varnish that is thinned with equal parts of turpentine. Alcohol stain should be applied quickly and evenly if you decide to use a brush or cloth. Several coats can be applied if necessary but since this type of stain dries so quickly you will not be able to correct the color when you are finished.

Oil stains are a bit more expensive than the others but they are the easiest to apply. They work both on softwoods and any hardwood with an open grain such as mahogany. When applying oil stain you should first coat all the porous end grains with a thin shellac using one part shellac to four parts denatured alcohol. Doing this will prevent the stain from darkening the end grain too deeply. Allow the shellac to dry for approximately three hours before covering the entire wood surface using a brush or wiping the stain along the grain. Wait 15 minutes and then wipe any excess stain off with a clean cloth. Allow this to sit for 24 hours and then seal the stain with a thin, even coat of shellac.