Last winter, with the help of you guys on this list, I built a bathroom vanity of maple (it came out really nice - thanks for answering all my questions). I stained it with Zar oil based stain because I couldn't find a Minwax that was the color I wanted. I've pretty much always used Minwax and I know to apply it, let it set and wipe the excess off. However, that approach didn't work with the Zar as it wasn't as thin a mixture as the Minwax. It took a lot of work to get the color I wanted with the Zar stain. The person at the paint store showed me to apply it as if I were rubbing wax on a car. I used that approach but had to redo some areas as the color wasn't consistent. I'm doing another vanity this winter and am wondering what the secret is to staining maple without having to redo it several times to get the right color.
One additional note. I had heard that maple has a tight grain so I used medium sandpaper when preparing it for staining with the thought that this might offset the tight grain.
After you have sanded to the desired smoothness I would use a "pre-stain conditioner" prior to staining. It keeps the stain consistant without blotching. I never use water based stain and keep with the oil base stains. Call me old fashion but I always apply the stain with a brush going in the direction of the grain. Like you discovered the consistancy of stain vary from company to company from oil to paste consistancy. This will determine how long the stain is left before clearing it off. Generally stain has done it's deed with a couple minutes. I remove while it is still moist. Any longer and you will have to rub to get it removed and the consistancy will not come out right. If it just happens to dry faster than anticipated I use mineral spirits and brush over the entire area and then wipe off.
It is always good to use a piece if scrap wood to test your stain choice. In addition when putting the final finish you should use a clear gloss for the first coat and then either follow-up with the same or switch to a satin afterwards. This first coat allows more of the wood detail to show.
Just my $.02This message has been edited. Last edited by: redoverfarm,
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