Clear stain- oxymoron or real thing?

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Clear stain- oxymoron or real thing?

Postby kevindford » Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:21 pm

So I'm coating the cabin walls, 1/4" birch ply, absolutely gorgeous grain, with:

1st layer: Sanding sealer -
2nd layer: light pine stain
3rd layer: polyurethane coating

In my test applications, the light pine stain is really dark- all I really want is a glossy finish to make this birch grain pop- is there a stain for that, or do I just skip the stain and apply the sealer?

Thank you-
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Re: Clear stain- oxymoron or real thing?

Postby greygoos » Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:38 pm

Skip the stain
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Re: Clear stain- oxymoron or real thing?

Postby pchast » Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:49 pm

Don't you have some scrap pieces to do tests on first?
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Re: Clear stain- oxymoron or real thing?

Postby Woodbutcher » Tue Jan 23, 2018 9:02 am

Just use a clear finish, no sealer/stain controller. Light and time will darken and turn birch a golden color.
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Re: Clear stain- oxymoron or real thing?

Postby tony.latham » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:21 am

George at the Teardrop Fixit Shop (http://teardropparts.com/) has rebuilt and created many of the old classics ––and marvelous work I might add.

He uses some kind of blondish stain to give the birch that aged varnish color. You might give him a call.

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Re: Clear stain- oxymoron or real thing?

Postby kevindford » Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:31 pm

pchast wrote:Don't you have some scrap pieces to do tests on first?


Yeah, that's what I'm working with
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Re: Clear stain- oxymoron or real thing?

Postby kevindford » Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:32 pm

Woodbutcher wrote:Just use a clear finish, no sealer/stain controller. Light and time will darken and turn birch a golden color.


Thanks for the advice- what situation do I use sand sealer?
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Re: Clear stain- oxymoron or real thing?

Postby Woodbutcher » Wed Jan 24, 2018 8:33 am

kevindford wrote:
Woodbutcher wrote:Just use a clear finish, no sealer/stain controller. Light and time will darken and turn birch a golden color.


Thanks for the advice- what situation do I use sand sealer?



Some people recommend a stain controller prior to staining to give a more even color without as much grain variations. I do not like them and tell people to avoid them. They are nothing more then a thinned down sealer. If you want to replicate that old honey color of an aged Birch that an old trailer has you will need to stain it first. Then clear coat with Polyurethane, or what ever you like. Most of the old 50's era kitchens that were Birch were just clear coated with WaterLox . I don't know if they even make it anymore.
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Re: Clear stain- oxymoron or real thing?

Postby VijayGupta » Wed Jan 24, 2018 3:07 pm

Yes, they still make Waterlox. It's a very good varnish but a bit darker than the big box polys. It is a varnish made from phenolic resin and tung oil combined and heated to convert to varnish. It is not tung oil any more than a loaf of bread is a bag of flour. The web site is a bit deceiving playing on the mystique of tung oil, except for one small section that says "what we make is a varnish." They recently came out with a tinted version called "Tru Tone." I've not used it as toned varnishes tend to be difficult to apply without streaking and I prefer other methods to color that I can control.

Another option is to use a dye dissolved in water and apply that as a light a stain as you want (controlled by the % of dye added).

Still another option is to add a coat of shellac prior to applying your varnish. You want to use a dewaxed such as SealCoat. Bullseye variants are waxed.

Don't use a water-borne poly if you intend to get get some ambering effect. Most are very clear (known as "water white").
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Re: Clear stain- oxymoron or real thing?

Postby kevindford » Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:10 am

Woodbutcher wrote:
kevindford wrote:
Woodbutcher wrote:Just use a clear finish, no sealer/stain controller. Light and time will darken and turn birch a golden color.


Thanks for the advice- what situation do I use sand sealer?



Some people recommend a stain controller prior to staining to give a more even color without as much grain variations. I do not like them and tell people to avoid them. They are nothing more then a thinned down sealer. If you want to replicate that old honey color of an aged Birch that an old trailer has you will need to stain it first. Then clear coat with Polyurethane, or what ever you like. Most of the old 50's era kitchens that were Birch were just clear coated with WaterLox . I don't know if they even make it anymore.


Ok thanks, that's what I'm doing with interior panels.

I have another question- I'm happy with the look of the interior panels with several coats of minwax polyurethane and the water resistant properties are good- is there a similar exterior product with UV protection?
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Re: Clear stain- oxymoron or real thing?

Postby willrothfuss » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:58 pm

If you don't want to "stain" the wood, you don't need stain. :lol: As for sealer, all sealers darken the wood a little- more so on wood that is dark to start with. I have found water base top coats darken wood less than oil base topcoats which soak in more. Consider a polyacrylic (if you haven't already finished the wood. I realize this isn't a new post)
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. Ralph Waldo Emerson
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