Using Gel Wood Stain – Our Coffee Table Part 2

If you’ve been following along, yesterday I used General Finishes Gel Stain in Brown Mahogany to stain the pine coffee table Justin.  Today, I spend another productive evening applying a coat of General Finishes Stain Clear Gel to protect our piece.

Just like with the stain, the satin finish gel is applied with a clean cotton cloth.  I would also suggest a pair of disposable gloves because even though the gel is clear and won’t technically stain your hands it’s still sticky and smelly and you probably shouldn’t be bathing it in anyway.

When I show this product to our customers I often compare it to snot.  Seriously, this stuff looks like it just came out of your nose but it gives your furniture the most beautiful finish while protecting it from dirt and spills.

Just like with the stain, I used a cotton cloth to wipe on the satin gel in the direction of the wood.  It won’t streak like a traditional varnish applied with a brush and dries in about four to six hours.  It’s pretty thick so it won’t run (don’t tell my husband I didn’t put down a drop cloth) and clean up is as easy as throwing a rag in the trash.  All in, this part took about fifteen minutes!

Okay, now that the top of the coffee table is finished (the bottom will be getting a paint job this weekend – more on that later), it’s time for a couple of general tips for working with gel stain.

First of all, I much prefer a stain and sealer system to those two-in-one products where the varnish is already mixed in with the stain.  By applying the stain first, you have a much better chance of avoiding blotches and streaks.  When varnish is mixed with stain, wherever it’s brushed on thicker it will be darker.  It will be lighter in areas where it’s been stretched out.  With gel stain, there’s plenty of time to wipe it on evenly and then remove any access with a clean cloth.

Also, gel stains are thick so there’s little chance of making a mess.  Okay, there’s ALWAYS a chance of making a mess but I find the General Finishes gel to be super easy to work with.  It won’t splatter and drip all over the place.  Just remember to wear gloves.  I will stain your hands and after it dries it’s a real pain to take off.

Finally, remember that any paint product needs TIME to not only dry but also cure (reach it’s full chemical hardness).  Even though by now my gel sealer is dry enough for me to run my hand on the coffee table, it is not CURED.  If I tried to put my drink glass on it, I would have a water mark in no time.  Most paints, stains and vanishes take about twenty eight days to cure.  That doesn’t mean we won’t be able to use our coffee table until Christmas.  It does mean that coasters and place mats will be a must until then.

Now that the top is done I will spend the weekend painting the bottom.  Stay tuned for more posts!

Do you have a stain question?  Leave us a comment below or visit the shop.

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