Staining Maple

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More tips on getting Maple to accept a dark stain. May 17, 2005

I need to stain some maple cabinets to a rich brown color. I have tried shooting some dye on first, then using alkyd stain on top, but the stain will not soak in at all to give me any depth of color. Does anyone have a finish schedule to get maple to a dark color?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor M:
I stain maple by first using ML Campbell Microton dye, then their Woodsong stain, then I tint the Magnamax or Krystal and then an untinted coat.

From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
Some stains work better than others. If your stain isn't adding much color, then use a darker dye and let the stain just bring out the grain. Using a toner over the sealed stain will add color as well. Do some samples, the larger the better, to work out thinning ratios for the dye, stain, and toner.

From contributor A:
When staining maple, I first use a 1/2 lb cut of dewaxed shellac to seal and help get an even tone.

In addition to the good suggestions you've found here, you might look at the Varathane stains. I've just done a couple of pieces with them and they really gave nice depth. You can control the darkness by the number of coats.

From contributor I:
If the stain you're using now is too light, you may want to try this trick. Take a solution of 50% water/50% denatured alcohol and lightly wet the wood (don't soak it down). This will slightly raise the grain and give the stain something to color. Give this a try - it works real nice if you need to get the darker colors.

From contributor J:
Here's a schedule for a popular colour in my area. They call it Old World Walnut. No need to treat the wood. Stain full strength Chemcraft walnut 825 7205. Then shade with just the stain full strength. I usually go over all parts 4 turns. Don't worry - it'll look too dark, but it will lighten later on. You shouldn't be able to see much grain. With a piece of plastic wool, gently scratch all parts with the grain. The stain will get a reddish hue as you scratch. Long, even strokes - sometimes I use a block to get it more even. Then seal with vinyl sealer. Sand with a sponge or 500. Finish with pre-cat low sheen with 10% walnut NGR mixed in.