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First time staining unfinished furniture. Help!


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I bought a small unfinished pine nightstand from IKEA (this one:) http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/50219609/  which needs to be assembled.


#1) Should I assemble it BEFORE I stain it or stain the pieces seperately?


#2)  I have no idea how to proceed.  I bought a can of Minwax PolyShades (stain & polyurethane in 1 step).  The girl at Home Depot told me to wipe down the unfinished wood first with mineral spirits, but that didn't sound right to me for some reason. She also told me to use 220 sandpaper after the first coat.  But then I read online that you should use a pre-stain wood conditioner first to help the stain go on smoother.  Do you have any tips or thoughts about this?  I don't necessarily need a "perfect" look, I just want it to look decent without too much trouble.

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Yes, clean the wood with mineral spirits.  That cleans the wood without raising the grain.  With pine, I use a pre-stain wood conditioner first.  Pine is notorious for not taking stain evenly.  The conditioner helps the stain go on smoothly. 

I use a sponge brush to put on the stain with the grain and then wipe it off with rags.  You might have to do multiple coats of stain. Sand between coats because water based stains raise the grain.  You don't have to sand like crazy, just until it feels smooth.  

If you poly, you'll need to sand with 220 after the first coat of poly too and then add a second coat.

And I would put it together first....it's just easier to deal with.  


I have a big, pine farm table to stain this week.  Hubby just built it for me. I love to redo furniture but I'm dreading all the sanding in the heat.   




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