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Kitchen Cabinets: Staining

April 19, 2011
This is the look I am going for – white cabinets on top with stained cabinets on the bottom. I think that all stained cabinets would be overwhelming for the small space.
After all of the stripping I identified the cabinets as oak. I expected as much. What a great deal though! Solid oak cabinetry would cost me a fortune. The best I could get would be MDF or particle board veneered in oak, and that would still cost thousands. If your house still has original cabinets, or cabinets that are 30 years or older, they are most likely solid wood and you are better off refinishing them. You will have a much better product in the end and it will last forever. When we are done these will look custom.

The first picture above is the cabinet after the sanding yesterday. Today I made a boiled linseed (1/3)/turpentine (2/3) mixture to clean and condition the wood. The linseed oil replaces the natural oils in that were stripped over time and by the sanding/paint removal process. The turpentine penetrates the wood and helps to dissolve any remaining paint stuck in the grain and opens the pores for the linseed oil to soak in. I scrubbed the mixture into the wood with 000 steel wool. I repeated this twice over the course of 6 hours. After the mixture was scrubbed in I wiped the wood down with rags to remove any remaing residue and let it dry for several hours. The steel wool also prepares the wood for stain by giving the final light sanding to smooth the wood’s texture.

I used painters tape to protect the dishwasher and other appliances.

Minwax 61980 Polyshades 1 Quart Satin Wood Stain, Bombay Mahogany
I used Minwax Polyshades in Bombay Mahogany with a satin finish. I used this exact same stain on our cabinets in Colorado. I really like the way it turned out. Since the polyurethane is mixed in there is no need to add a satin poly finish after the stain. The stain has a slight red tint which picks up on the garnet in the granite and works well with the cabinet color and green tinted walls.
I am not a fan out rubbing stain on and off with a rag. This never ends up looking professional in my opinion – it looks very DIY. I always use a high quality staining brush. I prefer to work with oil based stain, I think the color and finish are richer. This means I use an oil quality brush, which is different that a latex brush, and I have mineral spirits or turpentine on hand for brush cleaning.
Never shake stain! You will end up with a ton of bubbles in the finish that will need to be brushed out. Instead stir it very well, especialy with Polyshades. You want to make sure the polyurethane is mixed in well for an even coat.
I brushed on a medium, not light, coat of stain and made to sure clean up any drips. I will let it dry over night and steel wool it tomorrow before a second coat.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2012 6:18 PM

    The cabinets look great!

    • February 20, 2012 1:58 PM

      Thank you! I am sad to say that I haven’t finished them all. I will get to it this Summer. Once the basement is done we will finish the kitchen ( fingers crossed).

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