Water based stains have been around for a while and seem to get mixed reviews. For a number of reasons, I think these are excellent products. First of all they dry very quickly, which means you can often finish a project in a day. This in it'self is not an achievement, but what I like about this is that finishing a project quickly means that there is less time for dust and dirt to land on your still-drying-project.

Applying the finishes is usually done indoors (also to avoid dust and particles) which means somewhat of an enclosed area. Most water based stains have little (if any) odour which makes them more pleasant to use in confined areas. And finally ... clean up. I hate clean up at the best of times and any time I can save the environment and use something as simple as old fashioned soap and water to clean my brushes with ... is my kind of product.

Water based stains have been around for a while and seem to get mixed reviews. For a number of reasons, I think these are excellent products. First of all they dry very quickly, which means you can often finish a project in a day. This in it'self is not an achievement, but what I like about this is that finishing a project quickly means that there is less time for dust and dirt to land on your still-drying-project.

Applying the finishes is usually done indoors (also to avoid dust and particles) which means somewhat of an enclosed area. Most water based stains have little (if any) odour which makes them more pleasant to use in confined areas. And finally ... clean up. I hate clean up at the best of times and any time I can save the environment and use something as simple as old fashioned soap and water to clean my brushes with ... is my kind of product.

One of the advantages of water based stains is they come in a variety of colors. This means that a woodworker how has different ideas on finishing can mix n' match colors to create some truly outstanding projects. Most water based stains benefit immensely from pre-stain or wood conditioning products, especially for softer woods or mixed (heartwood/sapwood) pieces.

The disadvantages of water based stains and finishes that most woodworkers complain about is the lifting of the grain. The reason wood grains "lift" is because the wood fibre can absorb some of the water from the stains, making them swell, and thus leaving a slightly rough finish after the stains have dried. To my knowledge there is no magic bullet to fix this as it has to do with the mechanics of water molecules versus wood molecules.

The solution, in most cases is to lightly (I said LIGHTLY) sand after the staining, then finish with a water based clear coating. You may have to re-sand slightly after the first and maybe even the second clear coating, but the finished work will be well worth your efforts for the final finish you will receive. So if you haven't tried some of the new water based stains, try it, I think you will be pleasantly surprised, and will probably open new doors to finishing techniques in the future.


Copyright - Colin Knecht
woodworkweb

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