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Thread: Problems with staining my knife handle

  1. #1
    CR333
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    Default Problems with staining my knife handle

    I have a knife with a curly birch handle and want to darken it up quite a bit. I sanded it down lightly with #220 paper and applied a coat of Minwax Dark Walnut stain on it. Wiping excess off after about 15 minutes as directed, I found it still too light and applied another coat after an hour or so of drying. I repeated removal of the excess stain and allowed it to dry overnight for at least 8-10 hours. It was a nice shade at this point, but still very tacky to the touch. Growing impatient, I washed it with soap and water to remove the tackiness and was left with the original finish just a little dirtier looking. I now have a handle that is still the same basic curly birch finish just looks a little more worn and older. Not what I am after! Any pointers here? Did I screw up by adding that second coat prematurely? I couldn’t understand why after so many hours, it was still so tacky.

  2. #2
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    It sounds like your wood is stabilized. It can't be stained.

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    Yup, I'm gonna say you have a knife with stabilized scales or handle wood.

    PMZ

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    If your handle is stabilized then its not gonna absorb stain.

    There is a recipe for curly birch and maple tho that works pretty well for raw wood. I have a bunch of curly birch so I figured I could fool around on the lathe with different handle shapes, and then I used the acid recipe on it. Took a few pics. Heres what it looks like ..... You can go lighter or darker depending on what dye you use with the recipe. Mine was water based reddish brown transtint. In this pic the handle is just the acid and the dye, theres no "oil" or anything else, so it appears flat, but you can see how the acid pops the grain. The bottom pic shows the acid and a more finished look with ebony butt cap......The acid / oil/ etc is a surface finish....compared to stabilized which is all the way thru the handle.





    Last edited by Shaughnessy; 10-06-2010 at 06:47 AM.

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    I usually don't dabble with stains, but I've heard it is a good idea to cut the first coat with paint thinner so it absorbs into the wood more readily. The second coat goes on full strength. Hope this helps

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    I agree with Lil Red. First I clean the wood with alcohol to break down any grease left by my fingers. I then apply the stain thinned down with thinners or white spirits first. I think many people make the mistake of trying to go too heavy with the stain the first time around. Make several light layers and darken according to taste. When you get to the right shade you can stop. It's much too difficult to get it right with one thick coat. This is the technique I used with this knife:



    I prefer lighter shades as the darker you go, the more it obscures the beautiful features of the wood. I used 4 coats of teak stain and I finished the knife with 5 coats of danish oil.

    Paul.

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    If the stain remained tacky, then it's just floating on the surface because of sealed pores. Either your handle is stabilized, or you didn't sand down far enough. If your really after a darker finish, you could try sanding it some more to expose the untreated wood, if there is any.

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    Yep sounds like its been stabalized
    Nie pogrywaj ze mna

  9. #9
    CR333
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    Thank you for the replies! I will attempt to sand and apply another coat of stain and let it sit for a good 24 hours as I have no idea if it is stabilized. Discovered that Minwax has misleading indications as per their drying times. I also learned that a stripper can be used if that is the case. Though I have never stripped wood in this way. In retrospect, I have a hunch that I didn't allow it to dry long enough and use a thin enough coat. Hoping it's that simple!

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    Often times if it's a piece of wood bought from a shop, they can give it a coat with danish to expose expose the features and make the grain visible. If this is the case you need to give it a good sanding and a very good clean. Any finish will repel the stain and end up looking blotchy. This is another reason to choose pieces that are at least a half inch bigger in every direction than you need. This wood removal is important in giving you that surface the stain will absorb into.

    Paul.

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