Gary sent me this picture recently showing a problem he was having with Minwax gel stain bleeding into the lacquer.
I did some testing to see if I could find the culprit with my stain bleeding problem. I bought some Varathane gel stain in cherrywood along with some Deft Lacquer. As much as it pained me to test on a finished piece, I need to figure out a fix for the one I started and a little more won’t hurt anything.
First, I tried some Varathane on a side that had already been pre-coated with Watco lacquer, partially stained with Minwax, and had showed signs of bleeding. The Varathane showed no bleeding! Okay, that’s good. It’s probably not the lacquer. But, to prove that the Minwax was at fault I sprayed an unstained side with Deft Lacquer and let it dry. I then applied a small bit of Minwax and it started to bleed. That is more than enough evidence for me. I don’t need a highly controlled DOE (design of experiments) with statistical metrics to prove which of the many variables was indeed the culprit. Visual proof is sufficient for me.
One side note on the Minwax gel stain. I have used it on many, many projects with no problems. But, I have noticed a significant change in the consistency of the product recently. Initially, it was quite thick and hard to stir to a smooth consistency, which the label clearly says should be done. It was, for lack of a better term, very “gel” like. However, for the last project it would get much thinner when stirred. More the consistency of cheap latex paint or maybe even buttermilk. You would think it would be the opposite as it aged. I haven’t used more than a half cup of the stuff in the two years I have had it. There is no expiration date anywhere on the can so I am not sure what happened with it, but it has definitely changed. Oddly enough, the Varathane that I just bought is about the same consistency as my current Minwax yet it doesn’t cause bleeding. Go figure…
With all that said, this is not a condemnation of the Minwax product, as such. But, for chip carvers using basswood it’s a word to the wise.
Thanks for all your support,