How To Stain Wood

A simple, step-by-step tutorial on how to stain wood

About a month or so ago I was wandering around one of my favorite home decor stores (The Wood Connection) and I saw a cute shadow box with the patriotic decor that had been stained.  The result was a more antique look to the wood since you could see the grain.  Now, up to this point, I’d never stained anything.  Paint is my go-to and wood stain was totally foreign to me.  I decided it was time to add it to my skill set and took it up to the front to pay for it, along with the shadow box.  I talked to the ladies up front and got a couple of tips and went on my way.

As I pulled out my supplies I went through a mental checklist of the things I needed:

  • sandpaper
  • wood stain
  • paintbrush
  • old t-shirt or rag
A simple, step-by-step tutorial on how to stain wood

The first step is to prep your wood by sanding it.  The instructions on the can of stain say to use fine-grade sandpaper (#220), but I only had #150 so I used that.  The wood was already pretty smooth with the exception of one edge.  Then I used a baby wipe to wipe off the excess wood dust.

Next, I popped open the can of stain.  (I used Minwax Wood Finish Penetrating Stain in Provincial 211.)  I dipped my paintbrush in the stain and applied it to the shadow box in the direction of the wood grain, trying to get an even coat.

A simple, step-by-step tutorial on how to stain wood

After I finished applying the stain, I let it sit for about 10-15 minutes.  Then I took an old t-shirt and started wiping the excess stain off.  Then I let it dry outside for an hour or so.  (It was too stinky to keep inside.)

A simple, step-by-step tutorial on how to stain wood

When I brought it in, I finished it off with some scrapbook paper on the bottom and a wood cutout of the United States that I had mod podged while the stain was drying.

A simple, step-by-step tutorial on how to stain wood

A simple, step-by-step tutorial on how to stain wood
See that grain?  So pretty!

Now that I’ve stained wood, I don’t know what was keeping me from doing it in the first place!  It was so easy and the result is exactly what I was looking for.  (If you’re nervous about it, just start with something simple like a shadow box or a wood block.)

Do you have any tips for staining wood?

12 thoughts on “How To Stain Wood

  1. Thanks Amanda! And I'm sure you are right about bigger projects being more work. This shadow box took me about 20 minutes (not including drying time), but a kitchen table would take hours I bet!

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