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IndustryArena Forum > WoodWorking > General WoodWorking > Need Help!- Staining a hard maple relief carving
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  1. #1

    Need Help!- Staining a hard maple relief carving

    Need some finishing advice.
    This is the piece. Attachment 268404
    When finished it will be mounted an another board with a shallow recess that matches the profile.
    I already ruined the first one attempting to stain it. The stain turned out very blotchy and uneven with some areas nearly the original color of the wood and some dark brown. This resulted in most of the details in the relief being obscured.
    Material is hard maple. The relief is about 7" across.
    I used Minwax Prestain for oil based stains. Applied 2 coats 20 minutes apart after lightly sanding with 500 grit sand paper. At this stage the maple had took on a very faint gold appearance and looked good but lacked contrast.
    After letting the prestain sit for about 2 hours I again lightly sanded the piece with 500 grit, brushed it clean and applied 2 coats of Minwax Espresso oil stain. Each coat was applied evenly and then wiped off after about 10 minutes.
    After the first coat of stain the problems appeared. The stain did not absorb evenly at all. The 2nd coat just magnified the effect more. I let it sit for a few hours to see if anything would change. It looked like crap. I didn't bother using a clear coat at this point and the piece went into the trash.
    Ideally I'd like the recessed areas to be slightly darker than the higher areas. Not sure if the color I was trying to use was just a poor choice being so much darker than the wood. I was going for a rich warm brown but am open to any suggestions that would finish well.

  2. #2
    Community Moderator
    Join Date
    Mar 2003

    Re: Need Help!- Staining a hard maple relief carving

    You could spray tone it, use a sprayer to paint on the stain.

  3. #3
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2009

    Re: Need Help!- Staining a hard maple relief carving

    if you wont to just enhances the look off it use a oil I use penetrol wood oil it brings out the grain and gives it a nice glow see pic for non oiled and oiled, non oiled is on top of oiled and it seals it to.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  4. #4
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2004

    Re: Need Help!- Staining a hard maple relief carving

    Stains were developed for furniture, not carvings. In most furniture, you have a wood surface that's pretty much even; it's usually cut with the grain, and the stain is absorbed the same way across the whole piece. Carvings are different; there's a combination of side grain, end grain, and diagonally cut grain that all absorbs at a different rate. So the greater the proportion of end grain that's exposed, the darker the wood will get.

    Even an oil finish will show this effect to some extent, but stains accentuate it. Sealers can help to some extent by blocking the pores, but this also interferes with the absorbtion of the stain. A more gentle approach uses a preliminary coat or two of oil, so the stain isn't the first thing to hit the raw wood. Finishes for wood carvings are traditionally composed from a drying oil (like linseed or tung) and beeswax, which is not as apt to be sucked into the endgrain. Some people use straight paste wax, but I find that it hangs up in the bottoms of crevices. If you want your wood carving to be dark in color, the best thing to do is to carve it from a dark-colored wood.

    Andrew Werby
    Andrew Werby

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