Learn How to Stain Like a Pro!

I’ve been dyeing to stain a piece of furniture for a while and I finally got to!*

Here’s how you can, too:

  1. Supplies: Figure out what color/s you want to stain your piece and head on over to your local hardware store** to pick up the following:

Supplies!

  • Some pre-stain (if you’re staining soft woods like pine)
  • Your stain/s
  • Some polyurethane finish
  • Turpentine ( for clean-up if you have an oil based stain)
  • Paint brushes (enough for pre-stain and each stain color you’ll be using – be sure to get brushes for oil based paints if you’re using oil based stain)
  • Sandpaper or a new sanding disc for your new disc sander***
  • Rags, if you’re fancy. Otherwise clean old t-shirts from that job you’re never going back to cut into rags work just as well.****
  • Painter’s tape if you’re using multiple stain colors.
  • Timer (we used our phones)
  • A stylin dust mask and pair of goggles if you’re prone to chocking on wood dust/getting splinters in your eyes like me or you can forego these if you enjoy living dangerously, like Nick:0102161210a

2. Once you have all your supplies, read the instructions on the back of all of your liquids to determine how long you’ll need to wait for things to dry/how many coats you’ll need to apply, etc. and determine:

  • What pieces are being stained
  • What color you want each piece to be

This is a good time to test your stains on a scrap piece of wood or the underside of one of your pieces if it won’t bother you. We used the underside of the lower shelf from the desk as our test piece:

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I had originally wanted the trim and drawers on the desk to be a warmer sand tone, but as you can see, the “sand toned” stain I bought for the trim was more white than anything. Therefore I chose to forego staining the trim and drawers, leaving the pine elements natural. The dark stain, however, was exactly what I wanted for the rest, so we got to work!

3. Choose a well ventilated area and begin prepping your wood.^ You’ll begin by sanding all areas to be stained until smooth. We used Nick’s fancy new disc sander to sand all our outer surfaces and sandpaper to sand the harder to reach places.0102161210bOnce your pieces are sanded you’ll want to wipe them off with a dust cloth, to make sure you get rid of all wood dust before applying your liquids. Working as a team taking turns sanding/wiping makes this part go faster.

4. Apply your pre-stain to your clean smooth surface with a clean brush. Pre-stain helps condition soft woods, so they will absorb the stain evenly. Let it dry for the time indicated on the packaging before applying your stain, but be sure to apply the stain within the window indicated on packaging. Our pre-stain said to apply stain no later than two hours after application.

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5. Once your pre-stain is dry you can begin the fun part – staining! Now ‘s the time to cover up any areas you DON’T want to stain with painter’s tape. Apply the stain with a clean brush using even strokes going with the grain and allow to sit for 5-15 minutes depending on how dark you want your piece to be (Not dark enough? Use your test piece to determine how many coats you’ll need to apply to achieve the color you want). Wipe the stain away using a clean cotton cloth going with the grain. Be careful when applying stain/wiping around any edges you don’t want to absorb stain. Your wood is like a sponge – don’t ruin it!                                               This part also went quickly since we were doing it as a team. Be sure not to let stain sit too long/too little before you wipe or you’ll have an uneven surface and you’ll have to spend more time trying to blend everything. Discard rags as they become saturated with stain and replace them with fresh rags as needed.

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When staining raw edges, apply stain to edge first and then to surface or your edges will look uneven like this:

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Also, watch out for unsightly drips when staining vertical surfaces!

When you’ve finished your staining and feel like everything is relatively even, you can pull off your painter’s tape. Voila!

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6. Once your stain has dried for the time indicated on it’s packaging, you can begin the finishing process. Using a clean rag apply polyurethane finish to all surfaces (including those you chose not to stain, like the trim in this instance) and let dry. We applied three coats of finish to all of our surfaces with a light sanding between each coat before deciding it was ready for use.

7. Add hardware and you’re done!

Give yourself a pat on the back and start using your new piece of furniture!

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*Please excuse the terrible pun.

**We love Blifferts!

***Projects like these are perfect excuses to buy new tools!

****The sleeves of said t-shirts also work great as babushkas to pin your dogs ears to their head if they happen to injure their ear and create blood splatters worthy of Dexter Morgan all over your bathroom walls.

^It being January, we used our basement. Not the best idea since our hallway smelled like fumes for about a week. Next time we’ll do it in the garage or when it’s warm enough to have windows open.

 

Hello, Wisconsin!

At the very end of 2014, Nick and I packed up all of our belongings and moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for my new job as a Young Adult Librarian (yay!). We found a cute little apartment in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood that accepted pitbulls and snatched it up as fast as we could. We’ve spent the past month and a half working diligently to make the place feel like home and this weekend I completed a project I’ve had on my plate since we moved in – make curtains for the closet.

You see, our two bedroom apartment only has one closet and it happens to be located in our guest/hobby room and it also just so happens to have no doors (the apartment is missing doors in several key areas, but more on that later…):OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you can see, it’s not the prettiest thing to look at and while I don’t care that my underwear is on display for all to see, it might make some guests uncomfortable. What I do care about is having a room that’s conducive to my creative process and to relaxation and this cluttered mess just doesn’t cut it. I need a place that’s bright, inviting and relatively clutter free!

Luckily I found just the right amount of Jessica Jones’ Leaflet fabric (one of the few fabrics that Nick and I could agree on) at The Needle Shop in Chicago last weekend.

Ian MacKaynine clearly approves and was probably hoping I’d make him some new pillows out of it. Sorry buddy…ianI went with Leaflet, because our hobby room at our old place had a teal accent wall that made the room feel bright and cheery. Plus, I liked the symmetry of the leaf pattern and it seemed fitting since the hobby/guest room looks out onto our yard.

Since I finally had a weekend without band commitments or family commitments, I pulled out the cutting table and my sewing shears and got to work as soon as the sun went down on Valentine’s Day.* OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI haven’t used my sewing machine in a few months, so curtains were a good project to get back into the swing of things, since they’re simple. Most of the work was measuring, pinning and ironing all of my seams, which isn’t so bad if you have good music to listen to…

Closet Curtain Playlist 2015

  1. Adorable – Against Perfection
  2. The Beatles – With the Beatles
  3. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – Hearts of Oak
  4. The Police – Greatest Hits
  5. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists – Living with the Living
  6. Simon and Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water
  7. Saves the Day – Stay What You Are
  8. Common – Be

After a few stabbed fingers and about a dozen songs into The Police’s Greatest Hits, curtain number 1 was done and I was ready to call it a night.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy early Sunday afternoon, the closet looked like this:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA So much better!

I even managed to get the leaves along the center seam to line up fairly well. Not perfectly, but I’ll take it!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANow that that’s taken care of, I feel like I can finally figure out what’s going to go up on the walls in that room and clear out the rest of the clutter in there so it becomes a room I want to hang out in and that I’m not embarrassed to let other people stay in.

Next big project – install doors to our bedroom and the guest/hobby room since the only room that currently has doors in our apartment is the bathroom…

*Nothing says “I love you” better than letting your partner do their thing when they feel inspired even if that inspiration happens to strike on a day when you’re supposed to be glued at the hip.