Today was/is STAIN DAY for the nightstand. I'll tell you, staining is much more gratifying than stripping. As of now, all the stain's on. All that's left is putting on the polycrylic.
I used my "old" nightstand as a stand to stain the "new" stand. How many times can one person use stand in a sentence?! This allowed me to access it more easily and to get the sides the whole way to the bottom. It was the closest I could get to a workbench.
Here are my materials. Plastic dropcloth (warning--if you use canvas, it will seep through, so put something under it), Pre-Stain, Stain (Mine is water-based Minwax Onyx), Polycrylic, painters rags, foam brushes, staining pads, & vinyl gloves.
One last look at my unstained, hard-earned stripped and sanded nightstand!
Staining is very easy. The process, in a nutshell, goes like this: sand the piece down and wipe off the sand dust. Put on the pre-stain with a rag. This is not as critical with a hardwood previously-stained piece like mine, but with, say, a pine piece from Ikea, it's CRITICAL. That old nightstand was my first experience with stain (that I bought at Ikea and never read any instructions on how to actually stain something) and I was shocked at how it just absorbed right in. After letting it sit for about 30 minutes, sand and wipe off the dust.
Now, you can apply the stain!
I use water-based stain and finish because it's lower-fume and you can clean up with soap and water. You really CAN, too, that's not just b.s. I had stain all over my arms, and it came right off. Some people don't like it, but it's all I've ever used, so I don't know any different. Seems just fine to me.
I tried staining pads for the first coat, but I wasn't thrilled with that result. You can use staining pads, lint-free rags, foam brushes, or bristle brushes to apply stain. I like foam brushes, because you can dab on stain in little corners and it's not quite as messy. Be sure to smooth out any bubbles and go completely to the edge for an even, complete coverage. Go thin and with the grain. After covering a small area (in my case, one side of the stand), and letting it sit for a few minutes (no more than about 3), wipe it off with a lint-free cloth dampened with stain, wiping with the grain. Repeat for each surface. I let mine dry about an hour between coats--the directions say 2. When you're done staining, let it dry 3+ hours before applying the protective topcoat (Polycrylic). Sand the topcoat lightly with fine grain sandpaper, wipe off the dust, and reapply the topcoat.
Here's the progress:
Coat 1: I was a little concerned that the coverage wasn't working--it seemed uneven and splotchy, especially in the places where the veneer came off.
2 coats: looking better!
After 4 coats: Finally the level of coverage I wanted!
I'll be sure to post the FINAL photo tomorrow!