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Can I Make A Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner?


A wood conditioner’s job is to partly cover porous wood grain, allowing the stain to permeate uniformly and create consistent color. Many companies make Pre-stain wood conditioner products.

Typical recipes require a high proportion of solvents, including petroleum distillates or naphtha, conveying a disintegrated solid, like styrene plastic or an alkyd resin. If a solution like this sounds too hard to combine manually, consider simplifying the conditions: A wood conditioner is essentially a wood finish that has been thinned down to a beautiful texture.

Can I Make A Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner?

Yes, you can make your own pre-stain wood conditioner. You can make wood conditioner from a solvent-based wood thinner rather than a water-based one; water-based coatings are complicated, and merely putting water won’t produce an efficient wood conditioner. Varnish, shellac, and lacquer could be used as wood conditioners if the proper solution is used.

Varnish can be used as a pre-stain conditioner by diluting it with mineral spirits or turpentine.

To thin down shellac, apply denatured alcohol.

Employ lacquer thinner if you wish to utilize lacquer. Employ a thinner with a low evaporation rate if the temperature is excessive to prevent the wood from retaining water and generate haziness.

The amount of finishing you use varies on the kind of wood you’re coating as well as the finishing itself, so you might need to try it out on a scrap of wood first.

Start by wiping some thinner and finishing on the wood, allowing it to cure before applying stain. Lower the solids percentage by applying additional thinner if the stain color is too light or doesn’t permeate. To correctly estimate quantities, utilize a turkey baster.

What Could the Wood Conditioner Do?

Take, for example, knotty pine. Whenever you apply a stain without first using a pre-stain conditioner, the stain absorbs into the sapwood and clings to the resin-rich knots’ top. Because the stain can’t permeate as thoroughly into sapwood as it could into bare wood, a wood conditioner soaks into the sapwood. It avoids discoloration, resulting in a much more consistent, albeit brighter, ultimate color.

Refinishers frequently start with spraying lacquer by applying a wash-coat, a skinny coat of the same lacquer as the topcoat. An ultra-thin coating of varnish will be a comparable wash-coat for a varnish topcoat.

An ultra-thin coating of varnish will be used as a topcoat. On softwoods and hardwoods with uneven grains, like birch and hickory, the wash-coat, which is comparable to a wood conditioner, produces a significant impact. It permits the stain to enter just deep sufficient to color the wood without highlighting grain irregularities.

What You Shouldn’t Do With Your Wood Conditioner?

While a wood conditioner has the similar chemical makeup as a wood finish, it isn’t one, and it shouldn’t be left on the top; it needs to absorb into the wood. The conditioner must be scarcely visible once it dries and you scrape the wood with 220-grit sandpaper. However, it might darken the original color of the wood slightly.

Yes, you could prepare your pre-stain wood conditioner, but bear in note that it must be light enough to rub on with a napkin, but you may even use a brush to distribute it. Before applying the stain, you might need to smooth down the wood grain using 220 grit sandpaper.

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Kevin Nelson

I will always have a special place in my heart for woodworking. I have such fond memories working on projects with my parents on the weekends in the garage growing up. We built tables, shelves, a backyard shed, 10' base for a water slide into the pool, 2 story fort playhouse with a fire pole, and so much more. This woodworking blog allows me to write helpful articles so others can enjoy woodworking as much as we have.

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