Glazing is the process of adding and manipulating pigmented color between coats of finish. By definition, glazing is always done over a sealed surface, never directly on the wood. When color is applied directly to wood, it is called staining.
Though you can use a stain to glaze wood, products labeled “glaze” work better because they are thickened so they don’t flow easily; they stay where you put them. Gel stains are similar to glazes and can be used in place of glaze.
Glazing can be used to tweak the color of the wood, whether stained or not. But glazing on furniture and cabinets is most often used to highlight the three-dimensional look of moldings, carvings, turnings and raised panels.
To glaze a three-dimensional surface, apply some glaze over the sealed surface using a rag, brush or spray gun. Allow the solvent in the glaze to evaporate to the point that the glaze dulls. Then wipe or brush the glaze to leave just the amount in the recessed areas to get the look you want.
Alternatively, you can abrade off excess glaze after it has dried too hard to wipe or brush. Steel wool and synthetic steel wool usually work best for doing this. But control is easier before the glaze dries.
After the glaze dries fully, apply at least one coat of finish to prevent the glaze from being rubbed or scratched off.