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Wiping Off Excess Stain

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The rule for applying stain successfully is to apply a wet coat and wipe off the excess before the stain dries. There’s no problem doing this with common oil-based wiping stains. They dry very slowly, so there’s plenty of time to get the excess wiped off before the stain dries.

But water-based and lacquer stains dry rapidly, so it’s often difficult to get all the excess wiped off before the stain begins to set up. An example of the problems with water-based stain is shown in the accompanying picture.

Here are three ways to overcome the problem:

  • If possible, divide the project into smaller sections and work on just one at a time.
  • Wipe or spray the stain onto the wood, rather than brush it on, which is very slow, and work faster to get it all wiped off.
  • Get a second person to help you. One applies, the other wipes off before the stain dries.


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