In my last home, a log house, I did all the staining. I stained logs, cabinets, doors, windows, floors and furniture. Today I am going to share with you some of my "wisdom".
1. You can mix colours together for a custom blend. I bought a can of stain that I thought was a shade of brown but once applied it turned out red! I mixed a dark walnut stain together with the reddish stain (half and half) and got a beautiful aged cherry stain that I love.
2. Mixing 1 part turpentine to 2 parts stain will help it to penetrate the wood better. You will need to work a little faster to apply the stain as the turpentine will cause the stain to dry faster. Use this tip for furniture pieces rather than floors – unless you’re a really fast worker!
3. Always use a wood conditioner when working with stain. It helps to prevent blotchiness and gives you a more even coat.
4. You can use a brush, roller or cloth to apply stain, but always work with the wood grain. I prefer a cloth but you'll soon find out your own preference once you try different applicators. A brush will work the stain into the wood better, but a cloth is easier to work with.
5. If you are planning to use polyurethane on your piece, save a step by mixing your stain colour into the polyurethane (just make sure both are oil-based or both are latex-based – don’t mix the two!). You can’t wipe the excess off between coats, though, so only use this technique if you want the darker version of your stain colour. Apply this mixture very carefully as you will get bubbles if you apply it too quickly.
6. If you get stain on your skin, use an exfoliating cloth to remove it. Works with latex based AND oil based stains! I found this out when I ran out of Varsol and couldn't clean my hands. Don't know why I was inspired to use these Oil of Olay cloths, but they were handy and wow, worked like a charm!!
Hope I've given you something you can use, happy woodworking!