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  • Newbie staining Maple...

    I have taken on my first serious woodworking project. I'm making Maple Cabinet doors. Things are going very well so far as I only have 7 more doors to make plus my drawer fronts. I'm starting to play with finishes/stains and my first attempt went down in flames. I want a light finish. My previous staining experience is a small oak job, so I'm very new to this! Here is what I did for my first attempt:

    -Brushed on Varathane Oil Based Conditioner
    -Let it sit for 10 mins, then wiped off any access.
    -Let dry for 30 mins.
    -Brushed on Varathane Oil Based Stain

    the end result in blotchy maple sample boards! I did not sand the wood at any point, however the sample board I used was a routed piece of wood. Is that my issue? Is sanding that important? If so should a sand to 180 and re-attempt?



    My next possible attempt is to use, shellac cut to 1/2lb or 1lb. The directions I have found say to cut the shellac with Denatured Alcohol, and follow it with a gel based stain. They highly recommend General Finishing brand of Gel stain. The problem I see with this method is that Denatured Alcohol is not available in Canada and General Finished Gel stain seems like it may be hard to find. Any advice on places that carry these or a good alternative?

    If all else fails, I may even leave the wood natural color. Maple is already a nice wood and my living room floor is natural maple anyway...

    Cheers,
    Mike

  • #2

    Re: Newbie staining Maple...

    Re: Newbie staining Maple...

    I use shellac and alcohol based stains. They dry fast so I spray it on.
    Shellac should be dewaxed, or it won't accept any topcoat other than shellac.

    When it comes to denaturated alcohol it's all over the place. You can get it in HD, CT and Walmart. Look to "methyl hydrate". About $10/gallon. Read cautions on the label carefully as they are not kidding.
    In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion

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    • #3

      Re: Newbie staining Maple...

      Re: Newbie staining Maple...

      Thank you for your help!

      I picked up the shellac, methyl hydrate, and gel stain. The only problem is that I accidentally bought amber shellac...I played with different cuts of shellac anyway. 1lb, and 1/2lb. My brown stain has turn amber as can be expected. I'll go buy a can of clear shellac tomorrow and play with that. Hopefully I'll get that brown back and loose the orange tint.

      Should I be sanding between the shellac and stain coats?

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      • #4

        Re: Newbie staining Maple...

        Re: Newbie staining Maple...

        I'm really trying to avoid as much sanding as possible for 2 reasons... The doors have a rather fancy design which will make sanding very time consuming and I really dislike sanding!

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        • #5

          Re: Newbie staining Maple...

          Re: Newbie staining Maple...

          Originally posted by darius View Post
          When it comes to denaturated alcohol it's all over the place. You can get it in HD, CT and Walmart. Look to "methyl hydrate". About $10/gallon. Read cautions on the label carefully as they are not kidding.
          darius, just to let you know that methyl hydrate is not denatured alcohol and far more toxic. It works fine for shellac flakes, but make sure you use appropriate PPE.

          Mike, you can buy Denatured Alcohol in marine store and i know Industrial plastic & Paints stock it, this is where i buy mine here in BC.
          It has been discussed on other topics, i think you can find it in CT now, probably in camping fuel area.
          I had really good results staining maple using "Ultra blonde" shellac flakes, it is almost clear if you don't want the amber color of the Zinsser stuff.
          I sand lightly with 400 paper grit after the shellac is done before staining.
          Good luck with your project & post pictures of your results.

          Cheers
          Last edited by Bidule; 06-04-2012, 02:13 PM.

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          • #6

            Re: Newbie staining Maple...

            Re: Newbie staining Maple...

            I have been practicing with a small bottle of the methyl hydrate, but I can easily switch to denatured alcohol. I'll swing over to Canadian tire one night this week. Is there anything particular I should be looking for?

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            • #7

              Re: Newbie staining Maple...

              Re: Newbie staining Maple...

              Hello Mike

              It's ok to use Methyl Hydrate if you use respirator and gloves. The Denatured alcohol is used for cooking fuel, i have never seen Denatured Alcohol at my local CT, HD and Wallmart.
              Just read the label before you buy it. You might want to read this post about Methyl Hydrate vs Denatured Alcohol if you really want the real stuff.
              Denatured alcohol i believe, evaporates a little bit slower. It's a personal choice, but for me, i don't take any chance and stay away from Methyl Hydrate. (methanol)

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              • #8

                Re: Newbie staining Maple...

                Re: Newbie staining Maple...

                You said in the beginning you want a light finish, so why is staining necessary? I recently built some kitchen cabinets and the maple I used had very irregular grain, lots of ribbon. I looked into spraying on an alcohol based stain and in the end chose to use clear danish oil and amber shellac and found that I liked the color, which is a bit amber I suppose. I like to sand my material but only to 100 grit or so , then apply danish oil, then on the next couple of coats of danish oil, I apply that with about 120 grit wet or dry paper. not much dust that way and it sort of fills the grain. I let that dry and applied the shellac with the french polishing method, I was happy with the project and avoided any issues of blotchiness, it set off the ribbon effect nicely,but if you want to add stain for a darker color you can also add a bit of tint to the danish oil, just not on the first coat.
                Last edited by phil; 06-04-2012, 06:27 PM.
                “The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” -Bertrand Russell

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                • #9

                  Re: Newbie staining Maple...

                  Re: Newbie staining Maple...

                  Originally posted by darius View Post

                  When it comes to denaturated alcohol it's all over the place. You can get it in HD, CT and Walmart. Look to "methyl hydrate". About $10/gallon. Read cautions on the label carefully as they are not kidding.

                  No!
                  Methyl Hydrate is NOT, repeat NOT denatured alcohol.
                  It is methanol, methyl alcohol or wood alcohol and is extremely poisonous. It can be very easily absorbed through the skin, eyes, ears, nasal passages etc and immediately attacks the nervous system. It will pass through most gloves and carbon filters for respirators.
                  It is so poisonous that it is added in a 5% to 7% volume to ethyl alcohol (ethanol) to make it undrinkable. This mixture (plus pyridine) is marketed as denatured alcohol.
                  Due to some quirk of Canadian alcohol marketing laws, denatured alcohol is not available "on the shelf" in Canada. You can get it in any major hardware store in the US however.
                  It can be ordered in small quantities through your local pharmacy, but you may be required to sign a "poison control" type of document. Most major finishing supply stores will either order it or may even stock it. I know Goudey's stocks it in Toronto. I order mine in 5gal pails from my finish supplier and it comes from a plant in Kitchener.
                  To dissolve/thin shellac, you can also use Isopropyl alcohol, not the "rubbing alcohol" from the drug store shelves, but the veterinary/farm grade product available in rural Co-op stores or similar outlets.
                  To the OP, in the end it's your health so you make your choice, but base it on the facts.
                  Paul
                  Last edited by Paul O in Paris; 06-04-2012, 10:06 PM.

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                  • #10

                    Re: Newbie staining Maple...

                    Re: Newbie staining Maple...

                    Thank you to all who have advised me on Methyl Hydrate. I will not use it anymore. Not worth the risk to me and my family. Is there anywhere I can take it to get it out of my house? Good thing I only bought the small bottle!

                    I will check my local canadian tire and home hardware for Ambiance fuel or Bio-Flame as per the link provided above. Failing that I'll get Isopropyl alcohol from a Co-op store.

                    Will either react differently when used with a Shellac then the test stains I have already done using Mythel Hydrate? Will it just have a slower dry time?

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                    • #11

                      Re: Newbie staining Maple...

                      Re: Newbie staining Maple...

                      Ouch! Full frontal assault!
                      Indeed, methyl hydrate is NOT denaturated alcohol! Repeat NOT denatured alcohol.
                      Although some denaturated alcohol contains methanol and so it will first attack eye nerves if used improperly, just like methyl hydrate.

                      The label says it is great for shellac, and that same label also contains some warnings, which I pointed out, trusting that if someone can read posts here they can read product labels. In fact, the product is used for more applications than many are aware of:

                      Methyl Hydrate is used for:

                      Thinning shellac
                      Cleaning brushes that have been used with shellac
                      Cleaning windows, when mixed with water
                      Defrosting air line hoses on tractor trailers & commercial vehicles during extreme cold temperatures
                      Fondue fuel
                      Fuel for marine unpressurized alcohol stoves
                      Dissolving gums, resins, and celluloid

                      And Paul, I dunno what kind of gloves you mean. I use long rubber gloves and I can't see how methanol can get through those but not through the bottle it is sold in. The mask, any good quality organic vapor mask, like 3M, is good enough. I understand safety and that's why I pointed out to the label warning, But there is a difference between staying safe and being paranoid. Most chemicals we use in the shop are dangerous. From oil based paints which can cause fires and explosions to meat eating tools. Heck, even some wood species are worse, much worse then the others.

                      Caution in the shop is always important, and even after we leave the shop it's good to change the clothes, and wash the used ones immediately. Even if all those awesome laundry drier fluids and sheets, and many laundry detergents, contain formaldehyde (aka methanal). Methanol is used in its production. Formaldehyde is a proven cancer causing agent. Do we wear breathing protection when doing laundry? Pumping gas?

                      I wouldn't be surprised if we caused ourselves more harm through regular use of those smelly drier sheets than from an occasional use of methanol with safety precautions in mind.
                      Last edited by darius; 06-04-2012, 11:18 PM.
                      In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion

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                      • #12

                        Re: Newbie staining Maple...

                        Re: Newbie staining Maple...

                        No worries here. I did take note of your initial response which did contain a warning. Thank you for that. I did read the label. I wore gloves as per instructions. I didn't wear a mask for the few sample boards that I did, but I did work right beside an open window for ventilation. The cap was only off for 10 seconds. Can't say the same for the mixture of shellac/methyl hydrate though.

                        My concern is while testing a few samples I have minimal exposure for only a few minutes, doing this procedure on 30+ doors will increase exposure time and risk. If I can find a safer product for the complete
                        project I'd feel better.

                        Not sure if my gloves were appropriate though... I had a box of powered latex medical gloves.

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                        • #13

                          Re: Newbie staining Maple...

                          Re: Newbie staining Maple...

                          I would encourage you to read an MSDS and TDS on appropriate safety precautions on the products you use. Its amazing the amount of people that think they are safe because they wear a mask and gloves only to find out it is not appropriate protection for the items they are using. Keep in mind different cartridges for the same mask is available. I stock 4 different cartridges for respirators for different applications, 3M has many more.
                          Mark
                          www.masterfinishing.ca

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                          • #14

                            Re: Newbie staining Maple...

                            Re: Newbie staining Maple...

                            Mark, MSDS often contains very sparse info, such as "appropriate protective gloves". For breathing protection OSHA's 29 CFR 1910.134 compliant mask is recommended.

                            Similar precautions are recommended for shellac, paint thinners, paints water and oil based, lacquers, turpentine, epoxy resin and other adhesives. Lumber, other than yielding a lot of dust when processed, contains mold and fungus - some leading to very serious conditions. I never saw anybody warning others about paint thinners. Or fungus in lumber?

                            Add to that the noise, vibrations, electrical hazards, the risk of open wound injury and pretty much every thread will inevitable have to have a gazillion lines of disclaimers and warning.

                            The product I mentioned in my original post is:

                            - legitimate
                            - specific for the purpose stated
                            - safe when used properly

                            My incorrect assumption was that everybody goes by the safety rules related to tools and products they use.
                            Last edited by darius; 06-05-2012, 12:14 AM.
                            In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion

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                            • #15

                              Re: Newbie staining Maple...

                              Re: Newbie staining Maple...

                              Mike, forgive me for chiming in if you have already gotten enough information, or if I'm repeating a suggestion that's already been made.
                              I have used maple for several projects. My most successful finishes have occurred by first using the water-based dyes from Lee Valley (you mix a powder with water), and then using a topcoat of water-based polyurethane. Not blotchy at all, simple, and easy to clean up. It's worth trying just to see if you like it, and if not, the expense is minimal.
                              --------------------------------------------------------
                              Dave in Waterloo

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