After staining an oak tabletop, the end grain on the table’s edge came out noticeably darker than the top. What could I have done differently to make it blend better?

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Q:

After staining an oak tabletop, the end grain on the table's edge came out noticeably darker than the top. What could I have done differently to make it blend better?
—Tony Toto, Hanover, Mass.

A:

End grain can be tricky, Tony, especially in porous woods such as oak. The open ends of the grain soak up more stain pigment than the less-porous faces and edges.

Sanding closes up some of those open cells, slowing the intake of the stain. The finer the grit, the less pigment will stick. For porous woods, as a rule of thumb, double the grit for end grain. So, if you sand through 220 grit for the faces and edges, sand the end grain up to about 400.