Avoiding Spray "Shadow" in Profiles

Advice on spraygun technique for even coverage of surface detail profiles. August 17, 2009

When applying stain to a cabinet door by spraying, the stain often will not be applied at the edges of the wood on-lay, leaving a shadow. How can this be avoided?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor J:
If you are referring to light or no stain in the recessed areas of the profile, the best ways to combat this that I have found are:

1. Spray with the lowest air pressure possible to minimize the blow back effect.

2. Thin the stain out so you are getting the final color in multiple passes or coats, the stronger the color is, the worse the shadows will be.

3. Spray from different directions, angling your gun slightly towards the profile on the first pass and then in the opposite direction on the return pass.

4. Make a fill glaze.

Sometimes the shadows and light areas just cannot be avoided and the way to deal with it may be to make a glaze that is the same color as the stain. Apply after sealing with a brush into the profiles in the same manner as a highlight glaze, only the goal here is to "fill in" color instead of it being a darker, highlight color.

From contributor R:

What type of stains are you talking about? If itís an oil based stain just wipe it real good into the bald areas when youíre done spraying. The same goes for a water-based stain. Solvent dye stains that dry quick need a bit of skill to get all the nooks and crannies evenly covered.

I try and mix a dye stain after spraying where I reached the color intensity I was looking for. Air pressure is important just as contributor J pointed out. I understand that one of the big manufacturers makes a gun thatís pretty much designed for applying a dye stain but I have no personal knowledge or experience with said product. Something else that goes along with mastering the shadow is practice and patience.

From contributor S:
Contributor J - great advice. I have sprayed dye mixed in clearcoat before but I am spraying stain for the first time on a soft maple and birch kitchen. I took your advice on thinning and spraying technique and I can see it working pretty well. I am about to start my third stain coat and it is looking pretty good. I did a sample board with three coats. Sherwood BAC Wiping Stain (Cherry 3207) thinned 500% with Min Spirits.