Saturday, April 25, 2015

Java Gel Stain

It's a can of stain!
General Finishes Java Gel Stain has gotten a pretty hard push on social media lately (Seriously). I was making a frame for someone's college diploma recently, and she wanted dark wood but did not seem too thrilled with walnut. To achieve the desired aesthetic I could have held true to my tendency not to use stain and built the frame out of something like ebony, but that would have been ridiculously expensive (and really, kind of wasteful; that's not what ebony should be used for). This scenario is ideal for using a stain to darken a cheaper, lighter-colored, wood.

In this case I used red oak and applied the Java Gel Stain. Here's the pictures one coat at a time just to demonstrate how it finishes.

Unstained... obviously
The Java Gel Stain, as one might expect, is a thick gel stain. Gel stains are extremely viscous spread on thickly. Unlike a dye or water-based stain, gel stains do not penetrate deeply into the wood surface. However, after only one coat they already have effectively colored the wood.

Coat 1
I opted for applying it with a cheap-o foam brush. It spreads on smoothly and evenly without too much hassle. The key is to wipe off the excess with a rag and to do so without leaving streaks. A second coat helps even out the color and operates to deepen the color.

Coat 2. It's darker than coat 1. Again, obviously.
The thickness of the gel consistency means that a person needs to pay special attention to inside corners and curves where the gel could build up unevenly compared to the flat faces.

When all is said and done, if you want to darken wood; the General Finishes Java Gel Stain is a solid option. It's easy to work with, effective, and not too expensive. I recommend it to anyone looking to achieve this color (and General Finishes has more or less the whole rainbow so if you're looking for a different shade, they probably have you covered.

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