Color Selection
Color is determined by four factors:
1. The color of the stain.
2. The nature of the wood species and how porous it is. Different species of wood absorb stain differently. Test the color on a hidden section of the wood you are using.
3. How long the stain is left on.
4. The extent of wiping when removing excess stain.

You can mix General Finishes stains together to create custom wood tones or colors. Be sure to mix enough to complete the entire project.
Other preparation
Remove dust with an air hose, damp cloth or "oil free" tack cloths. Do not use tack cloths which contain linseed oil when using water based finishes. Oil free tack clothes are available from your local unfinished furniture or woodworkers store.
Optional pre-wetting of the wood. On certain woods such as oak and ash, pre-wet the wood with a damp cloth to raise the grain before final sanding. Allow the dampened wood to dry 30 minutes before the final sanding. This will provide a smoother final finish.
Stir the contents of the can every time you open it! And we mean stir. Whether you are using oil base or water base products, wood stains and milk paints contain colored pigments and dyes that settle to the bottom of the can and must be thoroughly mixed before application. It may take several minutes to thoroughly mix the contents of the can so that the color remains consistent as the contents are used up.
The open time with waterbase products is shorter than oil, so stain one surface at a time. Don't be stingy when applying water base products. Load up the foam brush or handi-painter with product and apply LIBERALLY, keeping the surface you are working on wet with product until you are ready to wipe that section off. As you stain each area, remove excess stain by wiping with a cloth. It is important to wipe off the stain thoroughly and consistently (in the direction of the grain) to get an evenly stained surface. A second coat, applied after the first one is dry, will give you a darker and deeper color.
Look for ways to disassemble the furniture to make staining easier. Just by removing a few screws you can remove the back of a piece of furniture.
Custom mix colors!!! Don't let a color chart slow you down. Our water based products; Country Colors, Milk Paints, Wood Stains and Topcoats can be inter-mixed to create custom colors. Let your creative side come out and play! The interior color shown here and in the photo above is a blend of Red Pepper, Yellow Sienna, mixed right in the can until Chris got the color she wanted for the inside of the Rooster.

The tools you need
Before starting almost any wood finishing project, have these items on hand. Get enough gloves, sanding blocks, brushes, etc. Just like golf balls are in golf, supplies are the cheapest part of the game.
Quality paper towels or lint-free absorbent wiping cloths.
" gloves, even with waterbase products. Get several pairs if you are planning to layer colors on your project. Applicators will rinse free very well, but the dyes and pigments in waterbase products can stain your hands.

Chris prefers the snug fit of the latex-free gloves from your local ********. Any glove will work. Here is a tip: when cleaning up your work area after using WATERBASE products, just grab all the wet application cloths in your gloved hand and peel the glove off your hand over the cloths for quick disposal. Never do this when using oil based products. All oil based application materials must be carefully disposed of in accordance with the standards of your local fire department.

Aluminum foil and paper plates. Paper plates covered in aluminum foil provide the perfect container for application. Throw away the foil and reuse the plates. Remember, oil based products are combustible. Dispose of them in accordance with the standards of your local fire department.
Prepare raw wood surfaces using fine grit sandpaper such as #180-#220. Use #320 for sanding in between coats. 3M sanding pads can also be used between coats.
Choose your favorite application tools. You can apply any stain with an old rag or bristle brush, but we recommend the following.

Use foam brushes for small surfaces and corners. Flimsy foam brushes fall apart in minutes - a good foam brush can be used several times. We prefer the Polybrush by JEN Manufacturing. Buy enough quantity to make life easy on yourself. We usually have several either in use, rinsed or drying. They can be stored after drying and reused several times.

" old bristle brush for dragging excess stain or paint out of corners.

We love using Handi Painter paint pads for large surface areas. They make it easy to apply a lot of product to a section FAST, and are good for oil base or waterbase applications. We cut ours in half to make two applicators. Note that when Handi Painter Pads are new, or cut in half, they shed. Be SURE to brush or rinse off any fuzz before using. The loose fibers will show up in the finish! If you are using waterbase products, they can be washed and reused many times.

Don't work like a dog sanding anymore. Use soft back sanding sponges! They fit on standard palm sanders, are very flexible, easy to clean (rinse with water), and last a LONG time. om is still using one that he started with in 1994. They work great for buffing between coats of finish and are available in 4 different grades - fine enough to rub out finishes! Our favorite for final finishing is the SUPERFINE grade.

Use Blue Scotch 3M Painters masking tape to section off your project. Great for two tone finishes or for creating specialty looks such as this checker board pattern. Directions for creating the checkerboard will be posted soon.
Clean up materials: paper towels, cotton swabs, mineral spirits and sealed metal containers, such as empty paint cans (for cleaning brushes, and, with the addition of water, for disposing of rags and waste soaked with oil finishes).
Old clothes are recommended. They are usually expendable, lint-free and make great Halloween costumes.

Work Area Tips

Cover the floor with drop clothes, news paper or plastic sheets. Make sure you cover the floor area around your project enough to easily walk around it. Be mindful of the bottom of your shoes - don't walk through drips and then track onto finished flooring. If your project is small enough, put it on a dolly with wheels to easily access all sides. The dolly shown here was purchased at Home Depot, and is useful for many other things around the house.

When staining door and drawer knobs, punch the knobs into the bottom of a cardboard box for easy finish application. Simply cut slots in the cardboard, and slide the screws (with the knobs attached) into the slots to make them free standing.

Use old boxes for drying racks for small pieces such as drawer fronts. Recycling bins work well too.