Staining Wood and Experimenting With Stains

Staining wood is a pretty straight forward process on the surface, but there is so much that you can do if you take the time to experiment with stains. If you have been making things, then you definitely have scraps laying around. Those are a gold mine for staining and experimenting with.

staining woodYou can really do some amazing things with wood stains. Staining wood is a way to color the surface and create an interesting look that the wood did not have naturally.

There is far more in this world than applying one color. Most beginning woodworkers and wood finishers apply one solid color and then move on to clear coats.  Read more “Staining Wood and Experimenting With Stains”

Wood Finishing on the Lathe – A Basic Guide

Wood finishing on the lathe is a fun process. It takes a lot of the time out of finishing, and the results happen almost instantly in front of your eyes. You also have the ability to control the level and intensity of your stained finishes. For these two reasons, I love to finish while the piece is still on the lathe whenever possible. The following covers manipulating dye stains while on the lathe.

Finishing on the Lathe – How to Start

wood finishing on the latheThe first step for finishing your piece while still on the lathe is to apply your stain. I like to use pieces of paper towel, pipe cleaners, or small gun cleaning patches that are made from cotton.

Dip one of these in your stain, and turn on your lathe. I leave my lathe at whatever speed I was using last, as long as it’s in the low to medium range. Super high speeds can turn your stain into a geyser, which is funny and tragic at the very same time. It can also be dangerous, so be careful. Touch the applicator to the piece, and rub it across until the entire surface of the wood has been coated. In this case, black is used on Briar, which turns the wood from a tan color to a jet black. Read more “Wood Finishing on the Lathe – A Basic Guide”

The Secret to Wood Finishing

There are hundreds of secrets to wood finishing. However, there is really only one that you really need to know. Thin coats make finishing 1000 times easier than anything else you can do. If you apply thin coats, you will win at wood finishing.

secret to finishingMost new woodworkers have a habit of trying to speed things along. They feel unsure of their results, so they think if they go faster, they can get to the end faster. While this does get you through the process quicker, it does not get you to the end in better shape.

Finishing is the same. New finishers tend to apply a thick layer of finish. This comes from the old thought that more is better. They think a nice thick helping of finish will make their project beautiful, and save them time.

This is where most finishing projects fail. A super thick coating can take forever to dry, and sometimes it will never fully dry. The result is a gummy mess of a finish that detracts from the look of the piece. It also may render the project completely useless, especially if the finish never dries. Where a simple attempt to speed things up fails, taking the long way actually does speed things up in the end. Read more “The Secret to Wood Finishing”

Rustic Wood Staining Technique

Rustic pieces are super popular. This rustic wood staining technique will have you creating rustic finishes on your projects easily, and with one simple application. I use this process on many of my projects, and it gives the wood a much nicer look.

rustic wood stainingThere is a look at the finished board that I am demonstrating with in this tutorial. You can see that the stain has an irregular look, and has not evenly colored the board. This difference in color density adds depth, and gives the wood a rustic look.

Pine is the best species of wood to use for the rustic wood staining technique. Thankfully, it’s also one of the least expensive to buy, and easiest to work. Pine has varying densities in the wood, and is one of the hardest species to stain evenly. This is an advantage for rustic style staining, because the distressed irregular look is what you are going for. Read more “Rustic Wood Staining Technique”

Easy Wood Finishes for Beginners

One of the biggest hurtles to woodworking is wood finishing. Thankfully, there are some easy wood finishes for beginners. Hand applied finishes have been used for centuries. These create a warm glow on your work, and leave it well protected. They are also very easy to apply.

easy wood finishesHand applied finishes are still one of the most commonly available finishes. They require no additional equipment, and can be applied with a clean cloth.

Repairing the finish is easy in most cases, as a fresh coating can restore the look.

Some of these easy wood finishes include Linseed Oil, Tru-Oil, Danish Oil, Arm-R-Seal, and Shellac. Each of these have their own properties, but they all apply easily. Also, these products are not expensive. For as little as $10 in some cases, you can have a bottle that will last a long time on smaller projects. They also work well on larger projects too. Read more “Easy Wood Finishes for Beginners”

Staining Wood with Steel Wool and Vinegar

Staining wood with steel wool and vinegar is an easy way to incorporate an older method of chemically staining wood. Modern stains use dyes and pigments to add color to wood. When you use this steel wool and vinegar recipe, you are chemically altering the wood itself. This is different than adding a color layer like with a modern stain.

Steel Wool and Vinegar Stain: The Ingredients

staining wood with steel wool and vinegarThere is a small amount of preparation that you need to do before you can start staining wood with this recipe. First, head to the store and buy a bottle of Distilled White Vinegar, a couple 8oz. glass jars, and a package of 0000 steel wool.

These ingredients only cost a few dollars, and can be used to make quite a large volume of wood stain.

It is important to buy the exact ingredients on the list, and make sure that the steel wool is the 0000 type. Steel wool comes in a few different types. Each are marked with a scale ranging from 0 to 0000. The 0000 variety is the thinnest, and will work best in the reaction.

Making the Wood Stain

staining wood with steel wool and vinegarIn an 8oz. glass jar, put one of the 0000 steel wool pads. Then pour in the distilled white vinegar until the pad is covered. This will fill the jar to within 1/2 an inch from the top.

Make sure to wear your safety equipment, as you do not want to get vinegar in your eyes.

Leave the mixture to rest with the lid off for several days or several weeks. The batch in the picture was made only four days ago, and it has already turned color nicely. Some woodworkers have seen their batches take longer, but this is a little higher steel wool to vinegar ratio, so it makes a concentrated liquid.

Essentially, the acid in the vinegar eats the steel wool, creating a solution that chemically alters wood. Strain your steel wool and vinegar wood stain through a coffee filter or a paper towel, and the resulting liquid is your stain.

Applying Steel Wool and Vinegar Stain

staining wood with steel wool and vinegarDepending on the type of wood that you are working with, the reaction can be different. Some woods take a while to darken, some darken quickly. Others darken quite a bit, while some don’t change much at all.

On this piece of Briar, it only took about five seconds to darken.

Briar is a commonly used wood for making tobacco pipes. In finishing, a dark under stain is applied, and then sanded back, leaving only the dark grain. This steel wool and vinegar stain does the job of an under stain very well. It also dries fairly quickly.

staining wood with steel wool and vinegarWear the same protective equipment that you use when handling stain and finishing, and apply an even coat of your homemade wood stain to the surface.

Depending on the wood, it will darken over time as the solution begins working on the wood.

Leave the piece for several hours to allow the stain to have the maximum impact on the wood, and you can also leave the surface extra wet to increase the effect. On this piece, I left a layer of liquid on the top, and allowed it to penetrate into the wood. The more time this wood stain stays on the piece, the more of an effect it will have.

Sanding Your Homemade Wood Stain For Contrast

staining wood with steel wool and vinegarHere is another piece of Briar that I stained with vinegar yesterday. I have had good luck with sanding after a couple hours. However, leaving it overnight can produce better results on some woods.

Sand the surface with very fine sandpaper to pull back some of the wood stain. This reveals the grain, and gives it contrast.

Briar is a burl, so there is a lot of grain to see when it has a coating of steel wool and vinegar wood stain. You can control the amount of color simply by varying the sanding. If you want more black, sand less. If you want less black, sand more.

I made my wedding ring from Briar, and used this same contrast staining technique.

After sanding the wood, you can now apply a lighter color of stain, which will color the rest of the piece, and add contrast. You can also just finish the piece, and have a very interesting story to tell about how you made your own wood stain.

If you have any questions on Steel Wool and Vinegar Wood Stain, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building.

Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks

While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.

You can also Join the Community, and receive updates from me about new articles, upcoming books, and when I release new books. It’s completely free, and full of great tutorials, freebies, and great content.

Lastly, if you like what I do so much that you want to help me continue my work, please look at my profile on Patreon. This is a way for the people who enjoy my content to help me create more and better tutorials, books, and resources for woodworkers.

Using My New Fiebings Dye Stains

I am really excited to share my experience with my new Fiebings dye stains that I picked up from Tandy Leather Factory. I have been using dye stains for years, but these are even nicer to work with. They come in lots of colors, and they can be mixed on the spot for a completely custom dye stain.

dye stainsI have several more of these, and some other dyes as well, but these four are the stains that I just picked up.

The black and the chocolate are both the standard alcohol dye, and the yellow and saddle tan are the oil dye.

The great thing about using dye stains is that they give you excellent color, penetrate deeply, and make it extremely easy to get a great looking color on wood. In particular, dye stains work very well on Briar, which is used by people that make tobacco pipes. Briar has an incredible grain pattern that is only visible when you use a technique called contrast staining…and dye stains are perfect for it.

Contrast Staining with Dye Stains

dye stainsFor this example, I am using a piece of Briar that I sanded down to 400 grit. I like to test stains on a well sanded face of a Briar block, and then saw the face off when I am done. I then sand the new face to 400, and I can test another color combination.

This way, you can get several color tests all from the same block of Briar, with little waste.

The first step to contrast staining Briar with dye stains is to stain the wood black or dark brown. In this example, I have the Fiebings black dye stain already applied. You can apply the stain with anything from a pipe cleaner to a rag, and it dries almost instantly.

dye stainsThe next step is to sand off most of the black or dark brown layer, and reveal some of the original wood color.

If you do this right, the dye stain will highlight the grain in the Briar, and give it a much nicer look than before.

Use a fine grit of sandpaper to remove the color, anywhere from 400-800. As you sand, wipe off the surface with a paper towel so that you can see how much color you are removing. The amount of color you leave is a personal preference, and it will depend on how much you sand. If you sand less, the under coloring will be darker, more and it will be lighter.

Dye Staining the Top Color

dye stainsAfter you sand the under color to where you like it, the top color of dye stain can be added.

For most top colors, use a lighter dye stain like a yellow, tan, red, amber, or orange. Earth tones in lighter shades are great, as they contrast well with the dark grain.

In this example, I use yellow oil dye from Fiebings to add my new stain layer. Again this new layer of stain will dry incredibly fast, and as soon as it does you can move on to the next steps. I used a dauber that came with one of the dyes to apply the stain, and it went on very quickly.

dye stainsTo bring out the depth and beauty, you have to buff or polish the wood. Pipe makers use a buffing system, which I have a post about.

Buff the Briar with Tripoli compound to have a look at what the final contrast will be. If you need to make adjustments, sand back the top layer a little and then stain it differently.

This is a combination of black for the under stain, and then yellow for the top stain. Both were dye stains, and both applied only minutes apart. I really like how it highlights the grain. It also gives the Briar a much more intense look than it has in the natural state.

More Examples of Dye Stain Contrast

dye stainsHere is another Briar slice that I have been experimenting with.  This has a black under stain, which was sanded back with 400 grit sandpaper.

Then, I applied a red mahogany dye, and buffed it with Tripoli compound.

I like the look, though I think that the red is a little dark for my taste. It’s a decent contrast, but again the difference between the two colors is not as wide as the yellow and black from the first example. I may reduce the amount of red in the mixture and try it again. That’s the beauty of dye stains. You can easily alter the formula to suit your needs.

dye stainsHere is another test. Black under stain, and amber for the top coat. The amber is a little light, but it has a pinch of orange, which I like.

One of the best things you can do when you are working with dye stains is to write down the formulas that you create for your colors.

If you are adding a little of a couple colors to create a custom color, you will want to make sure that you can repeat it. Dye stains allow for easy mixing. You need to write it down though, otherwise you will not be able to recreate the same color a second time. It’s worth it. Especially if you come up with a really amazing color combination.

Working on a Pipe Stem and More Dye Stains

dye stainsHere is another little item that I was working on along with testing out my new dye stains.

The pipe stem in the center is made from an acrylic pen blank. I shaped it on the lathe and by hand.

I faced it, drilled it, and rounded it on the lathe, and then sanded the flats by hand. The bit came next, and then a final sanding with 400 grit paper. After that, I buffed it with Tripoli to reveal the scratches I couldn’t see before. More sanding with 400, and then a final buffing to remove each and every last scratch. I don’t have a stummel for this pipe yet, but the stem looks great.

If you have any questions about Using My New Fiebings Dye Stains, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building.

Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks

While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.

You can also Join the Community, and receive updates from me about new articles, upcoming books, and when I release new books. It’s completely free, and full of great tutorials, freebies, and great content.

Lastly, if you like what I do so much that you want to help me continue my work, please look at my profile on Patreon. This is a way for the people who enjoy my content to help me create more and better tutorials, books, and resources for woodworkers.

How to Buff Wood to a High Sheen

The best way to buff wood to a high sheen is with a buffing system that is meant for use on wood. There are a number of buffing systems that you can buy, and even buffers for metal will do the job in a pinch. However, if you really want to create the smoothest surface you have ever created on a piece of wood, then the Beall Wood Buff System is how to do it.

beall buff woodI have owned this buffing setup for a very long time, and I use it frequently for all sorts of projects. The nice thing about buffing wood rather than finishing it, is that the process is so much faster. A small project can be finished in minutes, and the sheen is amazing.

The reason that I recommend this sytem is because I have been using it for so long. If you know of another system that works as well, please leave a comment and share your experience with it. Since this is the only way I buff wood, this is the tool that I am comfortable explaining and recommending.

When you buff wood, you are actually smoothing the surface with an abrasive, similar to the sanding process. The compounds that are applied to the spinning wheels have small abrasive particles in them. Those particles cling to the buffing wheels, and then abrade the wood as it’s held against the spinning wheel. It’s almost like you are making sandpaper on the spinning wheel, and then the wheel does the work to sand the surface.

beall buff wood tobacco pipeBuffing wood has been the primary way that tobacco pipe makers finish their pieces, and is where I learned about the method. Sometimes, trying something new can really broaden your woodworking ability, and I wrote a whole article on how that can be beneficial.

A fine tobacco pipe typically has no finish other than a buffing and a layer of carnauba wax. If you look at one of my pipes on the left, you can see the shine and gloss. This is not a clear coat, it’s just from buffing.

Both pieces of wood have been stained to bring out the grain definition, then they were buffed with compounds. Finally, a layer of carnauba wax was applied with a buff as well, and the piece is ready to handle. I am so glad that I started making tobacco pipes, because I learned how to buff wood. Now, I buff wood all the time on many different projects.

How to Buff Wood to a High Sheen – Video

The video shows how to buff wood with the system, and how fast the wood goes from dull to incredibly shiny and smooth. It’s only a few minutes long, and really shows the system in action. The Briar takes on a completely different look after buffing.

The Beall Wood Buff System comes in a couple forms. The one that I have in the video is meant to be used with a small motor. I happened to have a 3/4 horse power swamp cooler motor laying around the shop, so I chose to use this version. There is also a version that attaches to the lathe, and the rotation comes from the headstock.

The bottom line is that you will need to have some kind of motor to turn the buffs. If you do not have either, then consider investing in a mid size lathe. The motor that I have was about $200 by itself. In comparison, a mid size lathe can be found for $350-$450 depending on the features. Some can be found for closer to $200 if you look around.

Also, buffs need to be turned at a certain rpm to be effective. My motor turns at about 1100 rpm, which is great for the buffing system. A traditional metal buffer will turn a lot faster, and most of them are too fast for wood buffing. Make sure that you look for a motor that matches the speed recommendation for any buffing system that you choose.

beall buff woodThe price of the kits are about the same, so if you are going to spend the money, I recommend that you buy a lathe rather than a motor. At least you end up with two great tools instead of just one.

Most lathes have a speed adjustment, whether by moving a belt or adjusting a dial. This will allow you to drive the buffs that the speed that you desire for buffing.

Buffing Wood – The Advantages over Finishing

The real advantage to having the beall buff setup is that you can apply a finish in record time. Plus, it looks amazing when you are finished. I love to finish smaller projects and buff wood with my setup. It takes smaller things like wooden rings, pens, small turnings, and tools, and makes them look incredible in a short amount of time. In most cases, the finish looks better too.

beall buff woodIf you have a couple dozen small items to finish, like if you are making items to sell, then buffing will save you time and money. It’s also easy to repair a buffed finish. All you have to do is sand the damaged area, then buff it again.

Finishing multiple items for a show or an event can consume a lot of time. If you are making things that can buff well, then this is a great option. I enjoy making wooden rings, and I finish the majority of them on the buff. Not only do they look great, but they only take about a minute each to finish. This cuts down on my time investment, and increases my profit per ring.

If you have any questions on How to Buff Wood with the Beall Wood Buff System, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends online. It helps me show more people the joys of woodworking. Happy building.

Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks

***Please note that the links to view the Beall Wood Buff System are affiliate links, which take you to Amazon. If you buy one of these systems on my recommendation, I earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps me maintain the website, and continue to operate Westfarthing Woodworks.

You can also Join the Community, and receive updates from me about new articles, upcoming books, and when I release new books. It’s completely free, and full of great tutorials, freebies, and great content.

Lastly, if you like what I do so much that you want to help me continue my work, please look at my Patreon page. This is a way for the people who enjoy my content to help me create more and better tutorials, books, and resources for woodworkers.

Danish Oil For Adding Age to Wood

danish oilDanish Oil, in particular Medium Walnut Danish Oil, is a very easy way to add age to a piece of wood. Rustic and aged pieces are very popular, and having a go-to product to add that rustic look to a piece of new wood makes it very easy.

I have used Danish Oil for a long time, and it is a pleasure to work with. You can find Danish Oil in a number of places, and it is carried in most hardware stores. Even some stores that have hardware or painting sections carry it.

The product comes in several shades, including natural. The difference between them is the color of stain that is added to the mixture. Medium Walnut is the shade that I use in this example. I also have a Dark Walnut that has a much more amplified coloring effect.

Using Danish Oil to Age a Piece of Pine

danish oilIn this example, I am using Pine. Lighter colored woods take up the stain better, and transform more after coloring. The board in this example actually ends up becoming a Growth Chart Ruler, which I have instructions for in another article.

The first step is to prepare the surface for finishing. Sand the wood smooth, and remove any large defects. After the initial surface leveling, switch to 220 grit and sand the entire piece smooth. Scuff the edges to break any sharp corners, and then wipe off all the sanding dust. An air nozzle works great for removing the dust, but a rag will do the same thing. If you have any large voids to fill, do that as well, which I have instructions for here.

danish oilBegin by using a clean cloth or a paper towel, and fold it up into a small bundle. Place it tightly over the lid of the can (which you have already swirled around to mix) and tip the can over to coat the pad.

Work in small sections, and begin applying the Danish Oil to the wood. The secret to getting a nice looking and streak free finish is to wipe the oil to the point where it feels like you are wiping the section dry.

The thinner you apply the oil, the better the finish will look. The beauty of Medium Walnut Danish Oil is that is faintly darkens the wood. This slight change is what naturally aged pieces look like. The more natural the look, the more believable your finish.

danish oilContinue working around the entire surface in the same way. As you run out of Danish Oil, lay the bundle over the mouth of the can, transfer more finish, and rub it on the board.

You don’t need to work incredibly quick, but keep going until the entire surface has an even coating of oil.

Pay attention to the wood as you finish. Some areas are going to take up more finish than others, and that’s ok. Pine in particular has harder and softer parts to the wood. The softer areas will take in more stain than the harder areas. This will only enhance the rustic look, and make the piece appear more natural.

danish oilHere is a before and after look at the board, which clearly shows the change. On the left, the board is pale and lacks color. On the right, the wood looks more like the bench below.

The bench I use was first owned by my grandfather, then my father, and finally owned by me. It’s close to 100 years old. Notice how closely the board with the Danish Oil matches the bench. This is the secret to adding age to wood quickly and easily. If you were to make a bench and then use Danish Oil on the surface, you could make a new workbench look aged as well. New benches are nice to have, but a trusty old bench has a much warmer look.

Drying and Curing the Danish Oil

After you have applied the Danish Oil, you need to allow it to dry. The normal time is typically six to eight hours, but I recommend giving the finish at least overnight. The longer you let a piece dry, the better the finish will perform over time.

After the first coat dries, you can add more coats if you like. The coloring will darken a little more with each coat, but only by a very small fraction. If you are looking for a much darker color, then I recommend using the Dark Walnut instead of the Medium Walnut.

That wraps it up for using Danish Oil to age wood. If you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building.

Additional Information About Westfarthing Woodworks

While I publish the overwhelming majority of my woodworking content for free, I also have several books available as well. You can see them on my Available Books Page, and they cover several different woodworking disciplines.

You can also Join the Community, and receive updates from me about new articles, upcoming books, and when I release new books. It’s completely free, and full of great tutorials, freebies, and great content.

Lastly, if you like what I do so much that you want to help me continue my work, please look at my profile on Patreon. This is a way for the people who enjoy my content to help me create more and better tutorials, books, and resources for woodworkers.

How to Make Traditional Wood Filler

This is how to make traditional wood filler. Wood fillers are available everywhere. However, many times they are made from random ingredients. If you are looking for a traditional wood filler that has a long history of use, this is the one for you.

traditional wood fillerTraditional wood filler simply means a homemade filler using traditional ingredients. Many store bought fillers have plastics and modern ingredients. While these help make a good filler product, they are not traditional.

The old masters used the ingredients that they had at the time to make their fillers. They used sawdust and glue, and they also used sawdust and finish. Shellac was the primary film finish for a very long time, and this traditional wood filler recipe uses shellac.

How to make traditional wood filler:

Gather some sawdust that is the same color or a little lighter than the piece you want to fill. The color will darken some in the mixture, so test it out if you are concerned about a perfect color match. One of the best ways to make sawdust for filler is with a belt sander.

Use an air hose first to blow out the sander, as well as the dust collection bag. Make sure you spend a little extra time on this, especially if you are filling a lighter color of wood. If you are working with a dark or medium color, you can get away with more.

Once you have the belt sander clean, sand the heck out of a piece of wood that matches the color of dust you need, and collect it in the bag. This can take a little time, but you will soon have more sawdust than you will ever need for a few simple fills. I collected a ton of sawdust when I restored my fathers workbench, which I used for the fills.

Next, make some shellac. You can use store bought shellac if you like, but you can make it yourself too. I have an article on working with shellac if you need a little help mixing. Use a clear or blonde shellac, as anything else will alter the color too much. Again, if you are working with a darker wood, it will be far more forgiving.

In a small container, add an ounce of liquid shellac. Then start adding sawdust and mixing until you have a paste that is about the consistency of loose oatmeal. It should be easy to spread, not crumbly, and should not be liquid enough to drip. It should feel about like any other store bought filler.

How to use traditional wood filler:

traditional wood fillerThe easiest way to apply traditional wood filler is with a putty knife or curved knife. Pick some up on the end of the knife, and smear it into the area that needs a fill. Over fill it slightly, as this kind of filler tends to sink a little.

Traditional wood filler also sands very easily. This is why you see that I smeared it on without much thought about having to sand it later. You can power through a thick layer of this kind of filler in a few seconds on the belt sander, or a little longer on the palm sander. If you over fill now, you won’t have to fill a second time later.

Once you fill all your voids, allow it to dry overnight. Depending on how deep the fills are, it can take several hours to fully dry. Don’t rush this step. The mixture needs to dry thoroughly before sanding. If you rush this step, it will ball up when you sand, and you will have to fill the voids again. After everything is dry, sand the surface flush with a power sander. Then, sand with the grain by hand with sandpaper and a block. Inspect the surface, and if you have areas that need more filling, address them.

If you have any questions about how to make traditional wood filler, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building.