Wipe Out Stain Streaks
I built an oak sideboard from WOOD magazine plans in issue 155, page 66. When
applying the stain, I accidentally left a streak of stain across the grain. Now, I can see that wipe mark. What can I do about it?
—Dave Parrish, Youngsville, N.C.
You have three opportunities to remove such flaws, Dave. An accidental stain droplet or wiping mark on a freshly stained surface can be masked by applying enough stain to that area to penetrate the wood as deeply as the droplet or wiping mark. Then remove the surplus stain, making your final passes with the grain using a clean cloth. If the resulting color is too dark, lightly wipe the whole surface with a rag saturated in mineral spirits.
As the binder in the stain dries, you can still remove unwanted stain using mineral spirits and a soft rag, as shown above. Wipe the streaked area firmly.
Once the binder in the stain has dried and locked the pigment in place, however, you'll need to remove the mark with sandpaper of the highest grit used for the rest of the project. Then restain until you match the color of the surrounding wood.
To lessen the impact of accidental stain streaks and spots, apply stain working from the bottom to the top of each surface. That way, any accidental drips fall on previously stained surfaces, where they're less likely to show up if you wipe them away while still wet. Wipe away excess stain before it begins to dry, and work on one face at a time to avoid leaving accidental streaks on adjoining surfaces.