Staining a New Bench with Zevy Joy

By Bruce Johnson

Annie of Zevy Joy shows us how she stained a beautiful Shaker style bench using Minwax® products.  

Finished bench with flower bag

So you may remember last month when I shared about my visit to the Seattle Renegade Craft Fair and my time with Minwax® there. Inspired by the campaign for this project, I’ve partnered with Minwax® again for this post. I’m sharing how I used their stain to finish a beautiful Shaker style bench.

I had a great time trying their products out and really am so pleased with the final product. It was so much easier than I had ever thought staining would be and the color stain is right up my “decor” alley.

Here is what I used and the steps I followed to get this white stained bench…

Tools and Minwax products used for the project

Here is how I completed these simple steps, including the pre-staining process all the way to the final polycrylic finish.

Sanding wood

I made sure the wood was free of dirt, paint or stain. Once it was ready to start, I gave the unfinished piece a light sanding with my 220 grit sandpaper.

Wiping off sawdust from the wood

Next, I wiped the sawdust away with a clean lint-free cloth.

Conditioning the wood with Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner

I then took the Minwax® Water-Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner (after stirring) and used my synthetic brush to apply it in the direction of the grain. I let it sit for no more than 5 minutes and then I rubbed any extra off (making sure not to let any excess unsaturated conditioner sit and dry). Once the piece was coated, I let it dry for 15 -30 minutes.

I came back after the wait time and lightly re-sanded in the direction of the grain to smooth out any raised grain (from the conditioner). As before, I wiped away the dust with a lint-free cloth.

Staining the wood

Now came the fun! I carefully applied the Minwax® Water Based Wood Stain in Pure White (making sure to carefully stir it before use). I used my synthetic brush to paint it on (always going in the direction of the grain) and then followed up with a lint-free cloth to smooth it out. I let it dry for 3 hours and then repeated the staining step once more with a second light coat and let it dry for another 3 hours. When I was done staining, I gave the stain a full 24 hours to set and dry. Then it was ready for the Polycrylic top coat.

Applying Polycrylic finish

I used my clean synthetic brush to apply the Minwax® Polycrylic® Protective Finish (always stirring before use). This protective finish needed 2 hours to dry in between coats.

Sanding after the stain is applied

Once dry, I gently sanded with my 220 grit sandpaper (this ensures an even second/third coat) and repeated the steps. I applied a total of 3 coats with a 2 hour wait time and sanding in between. The final 3rd coat remained unsanded as it is the final finish.

And that is it! I let it dry for a full 24 hours before we put it in its’ new home.

A couple things I learned along the way…

  • To practice beforehand. I tried out the process on some small unfinished pieces so that I could play around with colors and dry times etc… I thought that this step was valuable as when I went to work on the bench, I felt confident with the products and how they were applied.
  • Move fluidly with the stain, to always follow the grain and swiftly. I would be aware of drips or unevenness before dry times so that they were easy to adjust.
  • If needed, I could re-stain spots that were lighter than others to make the stain consistent. I didn’t need to do this in very many places but it did work
  • Just to go for it ;)… I didn’t worry too much and I enjoyed it. That is an important part!

Close up of stains bench legs

Here is the final product and I couldn’t be happier. The protective finish gives it a smooth coat on top that just enhances the shine. And my favorite part about this stain is how it really lets the wood grain steal the show.

Close up of bench side view

Finished Bench

Even though I love painting, chalk paint and more; stain is a wonderful way to achieve color while allowing the wood to show through and give detail to the piece. Or more so, it allows the wood grain to shine.

Wood grain showing

As you can see above, this bench is white, but the pattern of the grain goes unhidden.

It has become such a lovely addition to our dining set and it will continue to grow with our family over the years

Close up of bench side view with bag

Getting to try this out really set the record straight, that stain truly is user friendly and colors available today are versatile. They range from traditional wood tones to coastal colors. More than anything, staining allowed me to make this piece special for our family and give it my own style.

As I was working on this piece of furniture it was during the thick of warm summer days, I had my music going and the smell of sanding wood instantly brought me back to childhood memories.

My dad was a carpenter and as a little girl, he would work many days/nights out in our backyard (in his workshop) with music on, sawdust everywhere… I was always so proud of how he worked so hard and used his hands to make beautiful things…

with-chandelier

White table and finished bench

This project really was nostalgic for me. It was a delight to finish something like this myself, be reminded of those childhood memories and of my daddy making things too. I saw my kiddos watch from afar and through the windows as I fondly worked on this bench. It now has a dear place in my heart and I am anxious for the memories we will make sitting on this bench together here at this table. A little stain, a lot of heart and more memories to come; this time around with this sweet family of my own.

You can also head over to LIKE Minwax® on Facebook for more woodworking/wood staining inspiration! You can also watch this inspiring video that shares the heart behind the whole idea of, “Made With Love. Finished with Minwax®.”

I hope this post shows you how easy it can be to stain and how user friendly these Minwax products are. All opinions are 100% my own and I was flattered at the opportunity to work with Minwax on this project.

In her blog, Zevy Joy, Annie shares her experiences living on a budget, dressing for less, and decorating with what she has. See he story one project, recipe, and room at a time. Follow her on Facebook and Pinterest for more inspiration.

About Bruce Johnson

Author-craftsman Bruce Johnson has introduced millions of do-it-yourselfers, craftspeople and antique collectors to the world of wood finishing and antique restoration. As the official spokesperson for Minwax®, the leading manufacturer of wood finishing and wood care products, Bruce motivates people to take the initiative to beautify their surroundings. Through his many books, magazine articles and columns, as well as frequent appearances on national television talk shows, Johnson is recognized as an authority in the do-it-yourself community. Appearing on PBS, HGTV, The Discovery Channel, and currently hosting “DIY Woodworking” and “Build A Log Cabin”, on the DIY cable network, Johnson has brought the illustrious craft of wood finishing to the forefront of the American home.

An expert in wood refinishing, antique restoration, and home improvement, Bruce has published more than a dozen books on these topics, including Fifty Simple Ways To Save Your House, The Wood Finisher, The Weekend Refinisher, and The Official Identification and Price Guide to the Arts and Crafts Movement. For more than 20-years, he penned an antique refinishing advice column, “Knock on Wood,” which ran in dozens of antique/collectibles publications. Currently, he writes a column on Arts & Crafts for Style 1900 magazine.

A rare combination of craftsman and journalist, Johnson began his career as a high school English teacher, but left teaching to set up his “Knock on Wood Antique Repair & Restoration” shop. He spent the next 10 years as a full-time professional refinisher, but eventually returned to writing. Yet, Johnson says, he won’t ever be without a workbench and a couple of refinishing projects down in the basement.

Johnson is also the founder and director of the Arts and Crafts Conference and Antique Show held every February in Asheville, North Carolina, at the Grove Park Inn. The conference, which includes the largest Arts and Crafts antiques show, attracts more than 1500 Arts and Crafts collectors each year to its many seminars, tours, demonstrations and exhibits. Johnson is proud to have played a role in reviving interest in designers like Gustav Stickley, who founded the Arts and Crafts movement. His latest book, “Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Furniture,” was awarded the 2009 Thomas Wolfe Literary Award. These furnishings are treasured by such collectors as Steven Spielberg and Bruce Willis, among many others.

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