Category Archives: Wood Finish Stain

Six Things Every Refinisher Needs

It doesn’t matter whether you’re getting ready to start a new project or you want to encourage someone to take up wood finishing and refinishing. Having these essential items on hand makes getting off to a good start a breeze.


A drop-cloth is critical for catching spills and splatters. The only mistake is getting one too small. I always start with no less than a 6’ x 9’. I find the all-plastic drop-cloths to be awkward to use, so I opt for the style with canvas on one side and plastic on the other.

GlovesSold in boxes of 100, disposable gloves are essential for protecting your skin against stains and finishes. Always have a box sitting on your workbench so you have no excuse for not putting them on.

SandpaperMost projects require more than one grit of sandpaper. Be sure to pick up an assortment pack with: #100 grit for rounding edges and removing deep scratches, #120 grit for smoothing the wood, #150 or #180 grit for final wood sanding and #220 grit for sanding between your first and second coat of finish.

Brushes In the same manner, most projects require more than one type of brush. A foam brush or an inexpensive bristle brush are fine for applying Minwax® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner or any Minwax® stain, but you will want a higher quality bristle brush when it comes time to lay down a smooth coat of clear protective finish.

Cloths Kitchen paper towels are too thin and quickly fall part when used to apply a stain or finish, so pick up a roll or box of heavy-duty paper towels designed for use in your workshop.

FinishesMinwax® wood stains come in so many different colors that you should pick out the stain you want depending on each particular project. But since every stain needs to have a clear protective finish applied after it dries, go ahead and get a can of each of these to have on hand. For water-based stains, apply water-based Minwax® Polycrylic® Protective Finish. For oil-based stains, use oil-based Minwax® Fast-Drying Polyurethane.

Until next time,

“If you wait until you have enough time, it won’t ever get done.”


Be sure to check out Minwax’s new “Made With Love. Finished With Minwax.” campaign currently going on. The theme is ‘Find. Finish. Love.,’ celebrating the thrill of finding real wood pieces – sometimes in the least expected places – and the joy of making them into something we love.

Made with Love: Rejuvenating My Kids’ Wood Wagon with My Fix It Up Life

Guest Bloggers Mark and Theresa of MyFixItUpLife are back with a fun project sure to pull on your heart strings. Follow along as the couples embrace the spirit of “Find. Finish. Love.” to revive an old wood wagon as a heart-felt gift for their kids. 

This wagon may not be the greatest woodworking project you’ll ever behold, but it’s made with love for my kids. Thing is, we never used it.MyFixitUpLife_Wagon_Made-With-LOve_Minwax1630-1-800x600

As with many intentions in life, we got busy. And it got stuffed in a forgotten corner; piled on with more forgotten stuff. Forgotten.


But this wagon has a story. It’s dear to us. It’s wrapped up in how Theresa and I met and our first project together. Time to take life by the handle again and to start making new memories.

The wagon is made with wood that carpenters use to build shelter—spruce and fir mostly. You can get it anywhere and it’s usually a little, let’s say, lived in. It has all the dings and scrapes you’d expect a workmanlike hunk of wood to have.

What I enjoy about working with these kinds of woods is that their beauty is brought out by what you put into working and shaping and loving them.

And, this wagon looks slightly like a monster truck because I made it originally for Jack’s older sister when I lived closer to the beach. Its first lot in life was to be a beach wagon.

But we got busy.

And life happened.

Time to make some changes. Hello past, here comes tomorrow.


Made with love, to us, sometimes means going back to the beginning. The spruce boards I made the original out of needed some serious sanding. Not a ton of fun, but we used three grits of paper (60, 100, 150) t0 bring the spruce boards back to vibrance. Also, sanding opens the grain of the wood, ideal for stain penetration.


Before applying our coatings, we took extra care to get the dust off the wood. Compressed air is great for this. If you don’t have a compressor, using an old paint brush is great too. Follow up with some spray detergent and a damp rag (like you’d clean your kitchen counter).


The neglected spruce deck boards on the wagon gulped in the Minwax® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, which we like to use as a base coat so the stain soaks in as evenly as possible.


Since the wagon’s rails were coming apart, I re-made them from a Douglas fir 4×4, carpenter-grade. It has the tightest, straightest grain of the construction wood available at the home center.


I love this gray, Minwax® Wood Finish™ in “Classic Gray. When staining individual parts like this it pays to have a plan, because you have to stain all six sides at once. For these parts, we stained the front, the edges, then stood them up on the thin side and covered the remaining surfaces. It’s not perfect, but it works. Always check for streaks and runs (inevitable because: Gravity). Just strike them off with the brush.


Since gravity  is always on, I use it to my advantage. Before using a stain—and this may not be in the Minwax® rule book—I tip cans upside for a few minutes before using them. To my mind, this lets the stain move uniformly through the can without me stirring it with a stick for longer than necessary. I still stir it with a stick. No shaking.


Small parts can be frustrating to sand. When possible I use an inexpensive—and versatile; you can use a stationary sander for all kinds of stuff—bench-top sander.


Applying this dark stain (it’s Minwax® Wood Finish™ in “Ebony”) was like applying a liquid mirror. And while we could have gone with the more sort of obvious colors of childhood here, we wanted a look that was a little more furniture than toy.


Using this stain required me to slow down and go to a quiet place. There’s a balance between how quickly you can apply it and how quickly the wood drinks it in off the brush’s ferrules (bristles). There’s something just a little perfect about the balance.


The last coat is one of my favorite things for outdoor protection. Even though this wagon will spend most of its life indoors, it’ll see beach sand or rain or who knows what from time to time, so I locked in the color and locked out the weather with Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane.

Bring it Mother Nature.


It pays to have a plan. Since I wanted to brush the urethane on the sides, I needed a place for them to dry where they’d barely contact anything so I made a little hanger. Is this perfect? No. But neither is life.


Love is said to be perfect though. And that—we hope—is what both kids feel when they see, use and roll around with this project from my heart.


From now through September 30th, take advantage of our Fall Home Celebration rebate and save up to $15 on select Minwax® products that make and keep your floors beautiful. These specially formulated products enhance the natural beauty of your floors and can help protect them so they look great for years to come.

Be sure to check out Minwax’s new “Made With Love. Finished With Minwax.” campaign currently going on. The theme is ‘Find. Finish. Love.,’ celebrating the thrill of finding real wood pieces – sometimes in the least expected places – and the joy of making them into something we love.

MyFixitUpLife shares design inspiration, DIY tips, and behind-the-scenes interviews MyFixitUpLife’s husband-and-wife duo, Mark & Theresa, design, renovate, and share how-to tips to make your projects easier and more fun.

DIY Bathroom Vanity with Thrifty Decor Chick

Sarah of Thrifty Decor Chick is back with another amazing DIY project. See how she created this beautifully modern bathroom vanity. 

Hey all! I just finished up a DIY bathroom vanity that I wanted to share with you.  My Dad and I built it together and I thought this would be a great opportunity to show off the staining process.

Here’s what we started with:

How to build your own bathroom vanity

I work with Minwax® occasionally to share how to bring stained wood projects into your home and I knew this one was going to be a great fit. I started with my go to, Minwax® Pre-Stain Conditioner:

Minwax prestain conditioner

It helps to prepare the wood for staining — it’s such a quick process it takes no time at all. I use a foam brush to apply:

Prepping wood for stain

You don’t even need to wipe it off, as long at you don’t brush it on too thick. I immediately started staining after that step with Minwax® Wood Finish™ in my new favorite color, “Provincial.”

Provincial stain by Minwax

It is such a pretty stain and doesn’t look nearly as red (at least on pine) in real life as it does in that photo above. It’s a nice in between brown tone. I usually use a foam brush to apply the stain as well, but when you’re working with vertical surfaces that’s a little trickier. Applying with a rag is a bit messier (use gloves for sure), but I think goes on quicker. I did two coats on the top of the vanity.

Staining with a rag instead of brush

If you use a brush to apply stain, you’ll need to wipe down any excess a few minutes after. When you use a rag you’re wiping off that extra stain as you go so you save a step. Staining is such an easy DIY project and I LOVE the instant gratification it gives. 🙂 It’s so fun to see wood come alive when you work with stain. I always like to share a few staining tips with you that I think are important:

  • You need to give yourself enough time to complete one surface at a time. If you start and stop (and let the stain dry) you will see where you left off. Always leave a “wet edge” as you work — meaning keep moving across the surface with the wet brush.
  • It is important to let each coat dry well. If you add another coat too fast it will gunk up and take forever to dry. I usually only do one coat but you can add more for a deeper tone.
  • Gloves are always recommended! Even if you don’t use a rag to apply you’ll need one to wipe off excess stain afterwards.
  • If you can stain outside, great! If not, keep windows open or a fan running. And if you notice a weird smell coming from your dryer or oven after you stain, check out this post. 🙂

I did the top and then started the bottom part of the vanity…and the two pine pieces we used weren’t staining the same. I kind of figured this would happen because the 2x4s were a little rougher than the select pine I used for the rest of it. The 2×4’s were looking more red. But I had a plan! It added about $50 to the cost of the vanity, but I’m still coming in at less than $250 for the whole thing so I’m thrilled. I had some pine boards mitered down so we could wrap the legs. Here’s a reminder of how they looked:

Building a bathroom vanity


Instead of the 2×4’s, those are now covered in the nicer wood to match the rest. I also changed the shelf a bit and I’ll show you that below. I didn’t want the cut ends of the shelf pieces showing because I knew they’d stain up so much darker than the rest. The cut sides always absorb more stain.I grabbed a lawn trash bag and set up on the floor to condition and stain each board for the shelf individually:


How to stain easily

Like I said, using a rag makes the process SO much faster than a foam brush. It’s just faster to wipe it on and you eliminate taking off the excess stain after. I went ahead and installed the slats for the shelf when the stain dried and got ready for my next step. I wanted to use a polyurethane that would hold up to the water that will inevitably get all over the countertop. I chose the Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane I used when I refinished the potting bench last year:

DIY potting bench
Outdoor urethane for stained wood

I did two coats over the whole vanity and will probably do one more to the top. Between a good poly and lots of caulk around the sinks, the wood counter should hold up fine. You can use a fine grit sandpaper or steel wool in-between coats of poly, but I’ve found my new trick works just as well or better:

Sanding in between coats

Yes, just paper bags! It knocks down an rough spots but doesn’t create a cloudy look that sandpaper can sometimes create. It’s especially great for a final sanding after you’re done. Love it! Here’s a look at the finished project! Well, minus the faucets and mirrors and other finishing touches:

Sealing wood counters on bathroom vanity

Crossing my fingers the faucets will go in today! So much progress lately. 😁😁  I finally feel like we’re in the home stretch, even though there’s still a ton left to do. I found sinks and matching drain stoppers to go with them and I LOVE how they look.Finding faucets in stock that are tall enough was a little more difficult. I moved the sinks up towards the front of the vanity a bit to make washing hands/face more comfortable:

Wood counters on bathroom vanity

I only wrapped the front legs because you really won’t see the back ones when the baskets and stuff are sitting on the shelf:

Built in DIY vanity with sinks

You can see here how the slats now nestle behind the front piece. I love this — it streamlines it a bit more, and as I mentioned, the ends of the slats would have been much darker. When I wrapped the legs I considered painting the vanity white for a hot second. I thought it would look good with white on the bottom and a stained top, and it would! But I’m so glad I went ahead with the stain. It really gives this room some warmth. I love stained wood in contrast with the dark tile and the white accents that will go throughout the room as well. Here’s a before and after of the vanity and a peek at the shower tile that was finished up this morning:

How to build and stain a DIY bathroom vanity
How to build and stain a DIY vanity

My bathroom renovation is coming together just as I envisioned and I couldn’t be happier!

Be sure to check out Minwax’s new “Made With Love. Finished With Minwax.” campaign currently going on. The theme is ‘Find. Finish. Love.,’ celebrating the thrill of finding real wood pieces sometimes in the least expected places – and the joy of making them into something we love.

Sarah’s blog, Thrifty Decor Chick, features more great DIY projects that will help you have lovely home without spending a ton of money. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, or Pinterest for more. 

Glass Light Shade Vase: Three Ways with Not JUST a Housewife

Guest blogger Stacy Risenmay of Not JUST A Housewife is back with a chic, whimsical DIY solution for displaying your summer flowers. Follow her tutorial and see how to create your own glass light shade vase.

When I finished the bathroom in the basement, we couldn’t do recessed lights because of all the pipes and such in the ceiling. I had to find light that didn’t hang down very far from the ceiling since the ceiling is lower in the basement than upstairs and I have a tall husband. I have a love affair with seeded glass (glass with bubbles) and so I ordered some seeded glass light shades online. I ended up with an extra one and it has been sitting on the window ledge for almost two years collecting dust. Every time I get in the shower, I see it sitting there and think that I should do something with it. I decided to make a vase out of it but never got around to it since I could not decide on which base idea to create. Well, this week I decided to make all three and see which one I liked best!


Ever since my first trip to Trader Joe’s a couple weeks ago, I have been wanting to go back for some more fresh flowers. A post about vases was the perfect excuse! It is probably a good thing it is an hour away or I would spend most of my money there.

 Vase 1: Hanging Vase

This first vase I decided to make round. You could make it any shape you want really. After tracing a bowl on the wood, I cut out the 9 inch circle. I then traced another circle in the center. It was 4 inches. Drill a hole large enough that your jigsaw blade can fit then use the jigsaw to cut out the center circle. Be sure to sand it all really well with a 220 grit sandpaper.


I stained it the same color as the peg board and boxes in my new office closet. I love it!


Once the stain was dry, I drilled three small holes evenly around the circle and threaded faux leather lacing through it. I knotted the ends so it wouldn’t pull back through the small holes.


I still can’t believe these giant sunflowers were only a few bucks at Trader Joe’s!



Vase 2: Gold Legs

For this one, I cut out an 8 inch by 8 inch square. I traced a 5 inch circle in the center. Just like the one above, I drilled a hole big enough for the jigsaw blade to fit. I cut out the hole and sanded the whole thing really well.

I had a 1 inch wooden dowel I was going to use for the legs so I used a 1 inch drill bit to drill holes in each corner. Measure and mark it before drilling.

I cut the dowel into 2 1/2 inch pieces for the legs. I didn’t want to too tall, but it needed to be just tall enough that the bottom of the vase wouldn’t touch the table top. Think pot bellied pig verses gangly teenage boy.


I stained it using Minwax® Wood Finish in “Early American.” The legs I spray painted gold. I added some wood glue and pushed the legs into the holes. I waited for the glue to dry before turning it over and adding the vase.


I love that you can see the legs on the top!


I ended up liking the 5 inch size hole better than the 4 inch hole.



Vase 3: Geometric!

I started out by cutting three 8 inch squares out of plywood. You can use any wood, I just chose to use scrap wood for these vases. Once I had the square cut, I measured and marked about an inch and a half from each corner, drew a line, and using the miter saw chopped off the corners. It helps to have clamps to hold the wood in pace on the base of the saw. This created the octagonal shape.

Like the hanging vase, I drilled a large hole for the saw blade to fit through. I used the jigsaw to cut out a center circle in two of the pieces.


You will end up with two pieces that have center circles and one that does not. You can either use wood glue to attach them together or a brad nailer. Putty it really well and when dry, sand it smooth.



I painted it my favorite cobalt blue!



It looks so cheery on the shelf!



Real gerbera daisies are so perfect that they look fake even in person! They are such a great cut flower.



Be sure to check out Minwax’s new “Made With Love. Finished With Minwax.” campaign currently going on. The theme is ‘Find. Finish. Love.,’ celebrating the thrill of finding real wood pieces – sometimes in the least expected places – and the joy of making them into something we love.

Stacy Risenmay is a DIY enthusiast. In her blog, Not Just a Housewife, she shares her adventures of fixing up her 1938 cottage. She believes that whether it’s big or small, everyone should love their space. Learn more about Stacy and visit: You can also follow Stacy on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram