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Staining in cold weather?

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  • Staining in cold weather?

    Here in the North East temps are right around freezing and I have two Red Oak end tables ready for finishing. Is it possible to stain them in an unheated garage in these temps with an oil based stain? the tables are inside at the moment. My plan is to stain them in the garage, let the fumes air a bit then bring them to the basement to finish drying.
    How do you guys in the colder climates deal with this?
    "A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools" - Douglas Adams

  • #2
    Re: Staining in cold weather?

    How do you guys in the colder climates deal with this?
    Put heat in the shop.

    Seriously, I do have heat in the shop (heat pump) but you could do as you suggest, wait for a warmer day (45~50 if you are lucky) and apply the stain, then bring it inside if you can w/o damaging the still fragile finish to complete the drying cycle. Should work but your times will be WAY longer than stated on the can.

    You could use water-based stains or dyes and work inside with no fumes to deal with.

    Check out your local forcast at www.weather.gov and see whats up for the next couple days.
    "When we build let us think we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work that our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone upon stone, that a time is to come when these stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, "See! This our fathers did for us."
    John Ruskin (1819 - 1900)

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    • #3
      Re: Staining in cold weather?

      I've been doing a lot of staining lately, although I do it in the basement. The temperature has been hovering around 55 degrees down there (~30s and below outside). I have been using oil based, but have a high quality OSHA organic vapor mask, etc.. and I turn off the furnace for a few hours.

      A couple of notes about my experience with winter staining:
      1) The air is dry and the stain dries a lot faster. If you want dark, you have to keep adding and re-wetting it.
      2) The cold adversely affects the viscosity of varnishes.

      3) *Especially with red oak*, for about 12-18 hours after you put stain on, and wipe off the excess, it slowly bubbles to the surface from the pores. This perplexed me (and really PO'd me) the first time it happened as a bunch of little dark dots dried on a lot of molding... anyway, check on it every hour or two and just gently wipe off the dots.

      After letting the stain/varnish dry for about 2 hours, I turn on a box fan to circulate the air, open a window to vent, and turn the furnace back on.

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      • #4
        Re: Staining in cold weather?

        Originally posted by Wood_Junkie View Post
        and turn the furnace back on.
        I forgot to do that years ago while living in CT. The wife never forgets to tell me that!

        Red
        Red

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        • #5
          Re: Staining in cold weather?

          Thx guys. I stained them in the garage and let them sit for an hour. moved them to the basement to finish drying. I had an old bathroom fan I saved after a remodel, so i hooked it up to some dryer vent tubing and ran it out the window.

          For the polyurathane, I think I'll just do it in the basement and 'tent' the work area with plastic drop cloth and vent it with the fan...so I don't have to move the tables. Some day I'll have a shop... someday....someday...


          Man O man Junkie, I know what you mean. when I stained the coffee table last summer (below) I thought I'd be wiping those spots forever!

          "A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools" - Douglas Adams

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