How to Stain Pine – Make this inexpensive wood look like a million bucks.

I read a lot and I save work that is of interest to me and I never record from where I’ve read it. So I cannot give credit to where I’ve found this piece of valuable information from. However, I feel that this information may be of great benefit to you which is why I’m posting.

By Tim Johnson

Antique pine often has a dark, mellow colour. Unfortunately, when woodworkers try to duplicate that colour on new pine by using stain, the results are usually disappointing. It’s easy to end up with mega blotches and it’s hard to avoid “grain reversal,” a peculiar effect that makes stained pine look unnatural. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. If you follow the process presented here, you can give pine deep, rich-looking colour without losing its natural appearance.

Pine is hard to stain for a couple of reasons. First, its grain is unevenly dense. Typical wood stains cause grain reversal because they colour only the porous earlywood; they can’t penetrate the dense latewood. Second, pine’s surface is usually loaded with randomly occurring figure and super-absorbent pockets that suck up stain and look blotchy.

Our staining process includes four ingredients: water-based wood conditioner, water-soluble wood dye, dewaxed shellac and oil-based glaze (see Sources, below). Our process isn’t fast, because there are several steps. But it isn’t hard, and its home-shop friendly. You don’t need any special finishing equipment, just brushes and rags.

In a nutshell, the conditioner partially seals the wood’s surface to control blotching. Dyes penetrate both the earlywood and latewood, so they minimize grain reversal. Shellac and glaze add colour in layers, creating depth and richness. This colouring process works on all types of pine, although the end result varies from one species to another.


Staining usually causes blotches and always makes pine’s porous earlywood darker than its dense latewood, just the opposite of unstained pine (inset). This transformation is called “grain reversal.”

Before You Stain

Look Before You Leap

Before you touch your project with a brush or rag, get familiar with the materials and the process by practicing on good-sized pieces of scrap. Experiment on end grain, face grain and veneered stock. Practice until you’re comfortable with the process and know what to expect.

Fix Loose Knots

Before you sand, stabilize any loose knots by dribbling epoxy into the gaps. To make cleanup easier, keep it off the surrounding wood surfaces. After the epoxy has set, sand it flush with the surface. Clear epoxy transmits the dark colour of the knot. If your epoxy cures milky-white, touch it up later, after you’ve dyed the wood and sealed it with shellac.


FILL GAPS and stabilize loose knots with epoxy. Tape the back of the knot so the epoxy can’t leak out.

Sand Thoroughly

A good-looking finish always starts with a thorough sanding job, especially with a soft wood like pine. Here are some guidelines:

Sand with a block. Orbital sanders leave swirl marks that make the stained surface look muddy. After power sanding, always sand by hand, using a block, before you go on to the next grit. Sanding with finger pressure alone wears away the soft earlywood, creating an uneven surface.

Change paper often. Pine gums up ordinary sandpaper with pitch-laden dust that quickly renders it useless. Dull paper mashes the wood fibres instead of cutting them, which also creates a muddy appearance when you stain. Stearated sandpaper lasts longer.

Sand up to 220 grit. First, level the surface with 100-grit paper. Then work through the grits to create finer and finer scratch patterns. 220-grit scratches are fine enough to disappear when you stain, as long as they don’t go across the grain.


SAND WITH A BLOCK angled across the growth rings. Because of the difference in hardness between the earlywood and latewood, bridging as many rings as possible helps to keep the surface level.

Raise the Grain

Invariably, sanding leaves some fibres bent over. Water-based finishes swell these fibres so they stand up, leaving a rough surface. For smooth results with these finishes, raising the grain prior to finishing is essential.


PREEMPTIVE GRAIN-RAISING is a must-do for all water-based finishes. After you’ve finished sanding, dampen the surface, to raise the grain. Then sand it again, with 400-grit sandpaper.

Two Coats of Conditioner

Water-based wood conditioner (see Sources, below) makes the water-based dye easy to apply. It limits the dye’s penetration by partially sealing the wood, like a thin coat of finish. Two coats are necessary to control blotching (Step 1).

It’s important to keep the surface wet until you wipe it, and then to wipe thoroughly. Any conditioner that’s allowed to dry on the surface will seal so well the dye won’t penetrate.


  1. Brush on two generous coatsof water-based conditioner. With each application, keep the surface wet for three to five minutes, then wipe off the excess. Let the conditioner dry thoroughly, then sand it with 400-grit paper. Go lightly on contours and edges, so you don’t cut through.


Two Coats of Dye

We used Transfast “antique cherry brown” water-soluble dye powder (see Sources, below). Water-soluble dye from other manufacturers will work just as well, although the colour will be different. Dissolve the dye at the label-recommended ratio of 1-oz.powder to 2-qts. hot water (Step 2). Be sure to let the solution cool to room temperature before use.


  1. Dissolve powdered dyein hot water. When the powder is completely dissolved, transfer it to a lidded container and let it cool.

On the conditioned surface, the dye acts like a liquid oil stain (Step 3). Let it penetrate for a couple minutes before wiping. The second coat of dye imparts a deeper colour and a more uniform appearance.

It’s tough to get uniform penetration on end grain. Fortunately, you can minimize any uneven appearance later with the coloured glaze.

When you have a large surface to cover, use a spray bottle to apply the dye and a brush to spread it. Simply re-spray previously worked areas to keep the entire surface wet until you’re ready to wipe it dry. Spraying and brushing also works great on vertical surfaces. Start at the bottom and work your way up.


  1. Brush on a liberal coatof dye and keep the surface wet. Wipe the end grain occasionally to check its appearance. After the surface is uniformly coloured, wipe off the excess dye and let the wood dry. Then repeat the process.


Two Coats of Shellac

Shellac prepares the dyed surface for glazing (Step 4). It also keeps pitch sealed in the wood. Without shellac, pine’s pitch can bleed into oil-based finishes, leaving fissures or shiny spots that remain tacky, especially around knots.


  1. Seal the surfacewith two coats of 2-lb.-cut dewaxed shellac. Sand after each coat with 400-grit paper.


Apply Glaze

Glaze is nothing more than paint formulated for wiping. It’s easy to make your own proquality glaze (Step 5). Artist’s oils contain high quality pigments for pure, clear colour. Glaze medium makes the artist’s oil easy to spread and quick to dry (within 24 hours).

Glazing adds a second, separate layer of colour that really makes the pine come alive (Step 6).


  1. Make your own glazeby dissolving artist’s oil into glaze medium (see Sources, below). You don’t have to be scientific about the ratio as long as you use only one colour. Don’t go overboard with the amount you mix—a little glaze goes a long way.11
    1. Glaze actsas a toner on the sealed surface, resulting in a deep, rich colour and a uniform appearance. Just brush it on and wipe it off. Blend uneven areas by varying the amount of glaze you leave on the surface.



    You need to protect this layered finish with clear topcoats. Any topcoat will work as long as you wait until the glaze has completely dried. To check, wipe the surface gently with a cotton rag. If it picks up any color, wait another day.

Two more tools to my arsenal added

Amongst the multitude array of woodworking tools I have, I added two more little beauties to my arsenal. The one on the top is now my dovetail saw and the one below is a flush cutting saw. Take notice of where it’s made. Once upon a time all the best saws came from Sheffield, England. Good old mummy England.

I’m looking forward to sharpening the dovetail saw and put it to use.

Well that’s it from me, I’m technically out of a job and stuck at home. I’ll have plenty of time to catch up on some projects and work on releasing the next issue of “The Lost Scrolls of handwork.” Till then be safe and be happy, be mindful of others and live your life.

The Art of “Salting” Oak

The American public at large is familiar with the phrase and the practice of salting a mine. This method of deception practiced upon the “tenderfoot” was and still is a favourite one with a promotor who wishes to get good money for a worthless mine.

The reader will not have to entirely revise his conception of salting mines to understand the term “salting” as applied to oak. When common oak three inches or more in thickness is piled with strips a rapid shrinkage is liable to take place which will form deep cracks along the silver or medullary rays. Rains and other conditions introduce dust and dirt into these cracks, thus seriously injuring the stock. The lumberman soon finds that he has a worthless pile of lumber on hand. The cracks from the opposite side will often pass each other so that if the material is resawed the boards will literally fall to pieces.

To get the lumber in condition so that someone will buy it the unscrupulous lumber dealer sometimes resorts to salting. This is accomplished by taking down the lumber pile, removing the strips and sprinkling fine salt over the surfaces of the stock. The lumber is then replied without strips. The salt being slightly deliquescent, draws sufficient moisture to cause surface swelling which closes the cracks on the outside of the lumber, making it appear firm. The presence of the salt prevents the fungi growth which causes dry-rot, and thus makes it possible to leave the stock piled solid for some time.

Even an expert dealer in lumber may be completely deceived by the surface appearance of lumber which has been treated in this way. The only way to detect it is the rule employed for detecting a bad egg, that is, look to the inside, which necessitates the sawing of some of the pieces in two in the middle and planing or smoothing of the exposed surface. Simply sawing with the handsaw may not be enough. The rough surface exposed may not show the conditions plainly enough to be detected.

We know of one case in which from 15.000 feet of 3-inch oak which had been salted only 1000 feet could be used. The rest was good for absolutely nothing but firewood. That is what it was used for; though the buyer paid for the material, which was claimed to have been air-seasoned for five years.

New angles on tool sharpening

Article from CPT 17 June 2019

Here’s a better way to hold tools securely while you’re grinding them—and take the guesswork out of creating the right bevel angle. It’s a short piece of 2×4 with an angled end and a 1-1/4-in. hole for a clamp. We made one for chisels and plane blades, and a few more with different angles for wood-turning tools. Large labels with the tool’s name tell you which blocks are for which tools.

For a Delta grinder with a 6-in.-diameter wheel, a 5-1/2-in.-long piece of 2×4 aligns the tool to the wheel just right. For other grinders you may need to adjust this length.

Note: The angle you cut on the block is not the same as the tool’s bevel angle. To determine the block angle, turn off the grinder and hold the tool’s bevel flush against the wheel. The angle of the tool shaft to the workbench is the angle to cut on the 2×4.



This beautiful deluxe version of our popular Ultimate hand brace has a smooth black gunmetal finish shaft which looks striking against the solid brass elements and the fine grained Kotibe wood handles.

These superb quality hand braces will accept both brace shanked and hexagonal machine shanked augers (square shanks engage a square hole behind the chuck and the jaws reach around to grab the shank).

A three position ratchet mechanism allows the brace to be used in situations where there isn’t space available to swing the crank through a full revolution (also handy when using it with sockets or screwdriver bits).

Length 360mm (14″)

Throw 120mm (4-3/4″)

Jaw Capacity 3.5mm to 16mm.

Not suitable for very short shanked spoon bits.

I’m not an advocate for the above business nor do they sponsor me etc, etc, etc. 

I am posting this link because it is so awesome to see quality hand tools coming back on the market and beautiful ones too. We, the hand tool users have created a market for hand tools to be manufactured again.  As the price of some antique tools are costing more than the price of a new one,and, most times are not any better than a new one,  it makes sense to buy new over used. Just a thought.