When using Baltic Birch plywood for a new dash, what should I use to prevent blotching before staining it cherry? I bought the Laurel Mountain Forge Cherry stain and it looks pretty good on a scrap piece of plywood - nice and red! However, it seemed to blotch pretty bad. Any suggestions? I've heard using a pre-stain conditioner would help.
Don't be shy with the pre-stain conditioner, if you try that. Experiment with a scrap piece first. There are other pre-stain washcoat options. Send me a pm with your email address and I will send you some pages from a finishing book I have - regarding this subject.
Often the blotching is caused by glue residue, which prevents the stain from being absorbed in places where the glue is. Try giving it an overall light but thorough sanding before staining.
What most don't realize is that ALL wood benefits from a sealer coat before staining...even though the stain makers say no need to.
When it comes to the food chain of lousy woods for staining...Baltic birch is also towards the bottom of the list.
Oh, you can eventually get it balanced with coats and spot fix, but then your color always comes out lot's darker than expected by the time you are done.
Real furniture makers use what is called a cut coat/spit ocat of shellac on the wood BEFORE the stain coat is added. It's sort of a wash, and you sort of need a few scrap pieces to play with if you are really trying for excellence. (I'm the idiot that will generally start with a spit coat at 10% and then do 5 coats if that particular wood worked best with a 50% cut but then I can get spot on to match perfectly something done in the 19th century.)
Just want a generally even base for your cherry? Gets easier...Mix 1/3 Zinser sealcoat with 2/3 denatured alcohol to make your cut/spit coat. Try it on a scrap, followed by the Cherry. I think you'll like it and the cherry should go on without blotch. Leave a spot sealed but not stained, and try a second coat of your spitcoat followed by your stain. Now, you can control the depth of the cherry in a wipe on/wipe off way if you are not using an all in one finish.
Just a quick update, I used your easy cut/spit coat formula and it worked great!!! I put a heavy coat of it on the dash, waited 10 minutes and put on a coat of Laurel Mountain Forge Cherry stain and it looks GREAT!!!!! Not a blotch to be found and I think the pre-coating gave the Cherry stain a darker, redder look (which is exactly what I was hoping for). Thanks again for all the helpful insight everyone! I'll post pictures of the finished dash once I apply all the spar-varnish.
I do not have a great deal of success using stains without blotching, so now I add the stain to the spar varnish. That way it goes on much more evenly. If it is not dark enough, I can always add more stain to a second coat of varnish. It usually takes three coats of varnish to get a good result anyway, so doing it this way gives real control over the job.
Hope this helps.
Allan from down under.