What is the best way to stain your stain grade wood (European Beech)

Posted  on by Heartwood Carving, Inc.

Tips on Staining
European Beech


There are
too many stains, processes, types of finishing equipment, finishing techniques,
and products and processes to write about them all. Our attempt here is to discuss some basic
ideas that will assist the finisher in achieving the desired look of finish on
European Beech.


All wood is (hygroscopic) and will absorb stains
and finishes differently depending on the porosity and cell structure of the
wood species. Some hardwoods like Hard
Maple resist the absorption of stains as the grain structure is tight and
interlocking and cells are small. Some hardwood like European Beech, although
it is as hard as Hard Maple, has larger pores and does not have tight
interlocking grain. Both species are
contemporary, closed grain woods that sand smooth, finish to a high polish and
do not look “heavy grained” when stained or finished like open grain hardwoods
such as Oak. Since Hard Maple doesn’t
take stains deeply and requires multiple coats, it will lose almost all signs
that it is wood. The stain will hide the
grain, especially on darker finishes. European Beech on the other hand, even though it sands to a high polish,
will absorb more stain and will show the grain of the wood, even on darker
finishes. If the desired look is to mute
the grain, using a sanding sealer to fill the pores of the wood would allow
European Beech to achieve that look as well.

Why finish and stain wood:

1) To protect the wood from dirt

2) Protect it from gaining moisture.

3) To enhance the color and grain of the wood
and to bring out the natural beauty and enhance it with color.

Quote from a famous wood
finishing guru,

“100% of
finishing problems are preparation or application.”


Books have been written on this topic. Many problems can be traced back to poor
preparation. Following are some basic steps to remember.

1) Make sure to use good quality sandpaper.Carbide is the best.

2) 180 is normally high enough grit. (Over
sanding will waste time, $ , and can cause the finish to not bind as well.)

3) Make sure to round all edges, stains and
finishes do not bind well to a square edge.“ It is like trying to get finish to stay on the edge of a razor blade.”

4) Make sure sanding is uniform, no over or
under sanding. (Watch for glue spot as well.)


European Beech, we have been told that
water-based dye stains work the best as the look is more uniform and it
not look blotchy or gritty like oil-based wipe-on/wipe-off stains. The
most common problem is the blotchy or
gritty look oil stains leave when the
stain is wiped off leaving the asphaltom or gilsonite (dark tar based
colorants) lodged into the pores of the wood. This also causes the grain
to “POP”. Spray, no-wipe will minimize or reduce the grain pop or
gritty, blotchy

Colorants that readily flow into the grain and
wipe off cleaner will have more grain definition such as asphaltom, gilsonite and
transparent oxide colorants. Other
colorants may penetrate the hardwood better and do not wipe off as clean, which
produces less grain definition. Also,
lower viscosity stains tend to have more grain definition and higher viscosity
stains tend to have less grain definition.

European Water Base Stain Technology or Hydro


  • Factoring in a spray application, and in-house
    color matching, staining cost in labor and
    material may be lowered by 30% or more.
  • Make only the
    amount of stain you need
    , further cutting costs by minimizing waste.
  • Making the
    stain where you need it, “on time”,
    no longer relying and waiting on an outside
  • Many existing colors can be matched with the
    Hydro stains.
  • For Beech and Maples, European Hydro stain
    technology is considerably more uniform than any wiping stain.
  • In many cases,
    deep colors are achieved
    in one step rather than two.
  • Dry times of
    Hydro Stains are twice as fast
    as the fastest wiping stain.
  • Hydro stains are “green”; V.O.C.’s from staining would be virtually eliminated.
  • Hydro stains achieve
    maximum uniformity
    on difficult to stain woods such as Beech and
    Maple. Pre-treatment of these woods would be eliminated.
  • Because wood is made with water, Hydro stains have a natural relationship
    with wood, and therefore are the most user friendly of
    spray stain applications.
  • Hydro stains are compatible with most finishes.


  • Not
    all stain effects can be replaced with the Hydro stains.
  • Open pore woods such as oak and hickory
    achieve maximum grain strike with wiping stains.

Optional specialty colors may be offered with
the use of Hydro stains as a Pre-stain under solvent wiping stain. This
achieves the deepest of colors with clarity, uniformity and definition.

Conventional Staining Process

Conventional application of stain is generally
applied by a “spray and wipe” process using solvent base stains. The stain is sprayed on, wiped off, and then
must dry. As a wiping stain, it must be
formulated to dry slowly, or what is
known as an open time, to enable time to wipe the stain evenly.


  • Wiping
    stains require relatively little training.
  • Heavier
    pigments in these stains enhance the grain in open pore woods such as oak and
    hickory, producing a strong grain strike.


  • Wiping
    stains on woods such as beech, maple and birch usually require a pre-treatment to reduce blotchy results; this step adds
    additional labor and material V.O.C.’s.
  • From
    solid woods to veneers, uniformity of
    color is not always even
  • Application
    of a wiping stain takes 3-4 times longer
    than spray only stains
  • Dry
    times may vary from 45 minutes to
    several hours
  • Deep colors usually
    require an additional color step
    such as a spray only pre-stain.
  • Solvent
    base wiping stains are the single
    highest exposure of bodily contact
    toxic fumes.
    Fumes are absorbed not
    only through the lungs, but also through eye membrane and the skin.
  • Bleed
    back of stain from pores and crevices between frames and panels is a common
    occurrence requiring the additional
    labor for re-wetting and removal.
  • Solvent
    base stains are toxic. They are some of the highest in V.O.C.’s of
    all finishing products.
  • Wiping
    stains must be removed by hand; rag
    marks and hand prints are inevitable, costing time and money to repair.
  • Solvent
    base stains are not considered ‘green’.
  • Solvent base wiping
    stain rags produce waste.
  • Used rags are flammable and a common reason for shop
  • Rags leave behind cotton fibers in the wood, which must be sanded out
    of the finish. Used rags must be dried and disposed of carefully.
  • Much of the wiping stain is wasted. As much stain is left in the rags as in on the

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