Monthly Archives: November 2017

5 Staining Tips Every DIYer Should Know with City Farmhouse

By: Minwax

Guest Blogger Jen of City Farmhouse is back to share some wood finishing tips she learned at our Habitat for Humanity ReStore workshop. Follow along as she walks you through 5 helpful tips you should know before starting your next DIY wood finishing project. 

This is a sponsored post by Minwax®.


Here are  5 staining tips every DIYer should know…

     So before staining, it’s important to use an oil based wood conditioner like Minwax® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, if you’ll be using an oil based stain, or MInwax® Water Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, if staining with a water based stain.





  Minwax® Polyshades® It’s both a stain and protective finish in one product.   




DIY Floating Bench


Live Edge Bench


DIY Modern Rustic Beam


Driftwood Sculptures

Jen shares DIY projects and thrifty decorating solutions. Her design philosophy is that bringing style to your home doesn’t have to break the bank. Learn more about Jen and visit City Farmhouse. You Can also follow her on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest.

A Rolling Holiday Serving Cart

The holidays are always a time for parties, so when I took a closer look at this 1990s rolling microwave cart Leigh Ann had been using to pot plants in our garage, I got an idea.

All it had was a thin natural finish over the birch boards, so a light sanding with #150-grit sandpaper quickly removed it, along with the unsightly water marks.

Inside the cabinet was a single shelf and an open storage area, which I decided to use for a wine rack. Needing just four boards, it was easy to cut and nail together.

Under the shelf, I wanted to hang glasses. Using some scrap wood, I made some simple glass racks.

Birch boards always look great when kept natural, so I knew this was an ideal project to finish with four coats of Minwax® Clear Aerosol Lacquer. Note: see how I have my garage door open for ventilation? You can see, too, how the Aerosol Lacquer brings out the natural rich color of the wood.

Remember those dated round, white porcelain knobs? I replaced them with a more contemporary pair of square knobs.

When I was done, the rolling cart looked like this when closed….

And like this when open. The white center section is the original formica, after I scrubbed off the dirt from Leigh Ann’s potting projects. And in case you want a closer look at the interior….

Here it is.

So, the next time you are out hitting the thrift shops, keep an eye out for an out-dated kitchen cart you can easily transform into a contemporary serving cart.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!


A Guide to Buying Wood at the Big Box Stores

In case you haven’t noticed, the old fashioned, family-owned lumberyards are nearly extinct. If you still have one in your area, feel fortunate. For most of us, the closest home improvement store is the only source for purchasing wood, which can be daunting for those new to DIY. Here are some tips to help you on your next visit.


What to Expect

Home improvement stores are not going to have a wide assortment of wood species, especially not high-grade hardwoods, such as cherry, walnut, maple or mahogany. For those woods, you will have to find a specialty woodworking store. At most big box stores you can expect to find pine, oak, poplar, birch and fir.


Come Prepared

Be sure to come knowing what type and quantity of wood you need. Bring a tape measure and a pair of gloves for handling the wood. And you better measure your vehicle to make sure it will all fit!

SizeSize of Boards

Wood has shrunk to the point where a 2” x 4” board is closer to 1.5” x 3.5” by the time it reaches the store. Bring your plans and measure each board before you buy it.

KnotGrades of Lumber

Regardless of the species, wood is priced according to flaws. Construction grade, sometimes called #3, will be loaded with knots, some with actual knot holes. For that reason, it is the cheapest, least attractive, and least prone to accept a stain and finish evenly. Wood with only a few tight knots is considered #2 grade (shown above). Slightly more expensive, it still does not absorb stain well around the knots, even after one or two coats of Minwax® Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner. Prime #1 grade is considered clear of flaws and is both the best and the most expensive, regardless of the type of wood.

PlywoodBeware of Plywood and Particleboard

Plywood (shown above) is composed of thin layers of wood glued together. It is primarily used for construction, but you can find oak, birch and other hardwood plywoods. They are expensive, do not stain as evenly as solid wood, and you have to cover the exposed edges with strips of wood or veneer to hide the layers.

ParticleParticleboard (shown above) is sawdust or shredded wood chips mixed with glue. It, too, is used for construction, although manufacturers of shelving and some furniture top it with a layer of veneer. Be aware that particleboard bends under weight, such as in bookcase shelves. It also cannot be stained, breaks under stress, doesn’t hold screws well and crumbles when wet.

PickyBe Picky

I was buying eight-foot lengths of 1”x6” tongue-and-groove cedar recently, and at $20 per board, I was not going to just take the top boards in the stack. And I was not going to feel guilty for picking out the best boards. In most cases the boards on top have already been rejected by someone ahead of you, so pull them out, put them aside, and dig down to find the best boards that no one else has picked over. Avoid those that are warped, twisted, badly stained, and cracked!

BUT — be polite and return your rejects to the pile.

And remember, you don’t have to finish all your boards, just the ones you want to last.

Until next time,


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.









Tips for Dealing with Dust


Ask any wood finisher and you will learn that dust is the enemy of a smooth finish. Eliminate dust and you eliminate the problem. So, how do you do that?

First, recognize that dust is everywhere; on your project, around your workbench, on the floor, on the ceiling, even on your clothes. And, as soon as you brush on a sticky stain or finish, it acts like a magnet, pulling dust to it.

Second, pick your work space carefully. Working outdoors only trades wood dust for pollen, road dust and bugs. Working indoors is better, but you still want to avoid brushing a stain or finish beneath an active heating or air conditioning vent. Also, avoid areas with a strong natural breeze that brings dust indoors. If you rely on an open window for ventilation, put a screen on it to block out dust particles.



Third, a rag or a dry brush are not the best ways to eliminate sanding dust. A rag forces dust deeper into the pores of the wood, where it will come back out once you start applying your stain or finish.



A dry brush or, worse yet, an air compressor simply blows the dust up into the air, where it hovers before landing back onto your wet stain or finish.



Finally, the best way to control dust is to eliminate it with a vacuum. A soft bristle brush on the end of the hose will gently dislodge dust from the pores, joints and corners of your project while the vacuum draws it into the canister.


Even with vacuuming, however, you will still have some dust settle into your wet finish. To eliminate it, after your clear finish dries, sand it lightly with #220-grit sandpaper before applying your next coat. If needed, wet-sand your final coat with #400-grit dipped in mineral oil, which acts as a lubricant to prevent your sandpaper from leaving scratches.

Until next time.

The secret to a smooth finish is a smooth surface.


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.