How to Stain Unfinished Oak Cabinets


Tools Needed:

  • Minwax Wood Finish
  • Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane
  • Natural bristle brush
  • Drop cloth
  • Disposable gloves
  • Dish pan

Unfinished oak cabinets before staining

I spend a lot of time in my garage workshop, and I also spend a lot of my time looking for bargains, so when these unfinished oak cabinets went on sale, I bought them to go with some cherry cabinets left from our recent kitchen remodeling.

1. Apply wood stain to the surface
Preparing to apply Minwax wood finish to oak cabinets

While I knew from experience that I could never make my oak and cherry cabinets look identical, as they have totally different grain lines, I also knew that the right Minwax Wood Finish, such as Red Chestnut, would come close. And to make sure that it wouldn’t ruin my floor if I accidentally knocked over my can of stain, I placed my can of stain in an old plastic dish pan.

Using foam brush to apply cabinet stain

2. Remove excess stain

Brushing stain on a vertical surface can be messy, which is why I also used a drop cloth — and wore disposable gloves — but ….

Removing excess stain will reveal the finished look of the cabinets

… when I wiped off the excess stain a few minutes later, the color really brought out the beauty of the oak grain.

3. Apply a clear, protective finish

Apply a coat of fast-drying polyurethane to seal in cabinet stain

Stain provides color, but not the protection these garage cabinets would need, so I reached for a trusted finish:  Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane. Two coats brushed on with a natural bristle brush gave both my stain and the wood itself the protection they need.

How the Finished Cabinets Look After Staining

And while the oak cabinets still look a little different than the cherry cabinets, the combination of Minwax Wood Finish stain and Fast-Drying Polyurethane made me happy — and the cabinets take away any excuse I might have had for not keeping my workshop organized.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!