I am working on wooden handrails.

I have stained them, but then my GF decided she wanted them joined together. So I used a zipbolt to join them, and then sanded down the transition.


However after I applied new stain just to transition, there are visible lines and colour differences where the two ends meet.

new stain

How do I fix them without sanding down the whole rail and staining it again?

I have used water based stain as the wood is beech and nothing else. The connection is made with zip bolt and sanded down so it is smooth.

  • 1
    Hi, welcome to Woodworking. It's a bit hard to tell what's going on here, I can't reconcile the first image (which looks like there's a large amount of filler) with the second one (where there is little filler showing). But in general staining continuous surfaces in one go is the only way to ensure a consistent colour without lines/tide marks. So sanding back to bare wood and staining again may not just be the best option, it may be your only option for a result you'll be happy with. – Graphus Feb 21 '20 at 15:03
  • In case it isn't clear from the comment, you need to edit this question and tell us what finishing products you used. – jdv Feb 23 '20 at 17:13

Given that you don't want to sand down and re-stain, I'm assuming you'll be okay with a less than perfect fix.

In similar situations, I have used a stain that's about one shade darker, maybe not quite as dark as the darkest area in your irregularities.

What I did was dip a corner of my rag into the stain and then dry most of it off with a dry part of the rag, so that when you touch the rag to the wood only a small amount of stain transfers to the wood. Using this technique I try to just dab it into the lighter areas to shade the transition so it's less visible.

It will probably take some practice, but if you take it slow you'll get there. Also, if you mess up too bad you can grab some naptha and wipe some of the stain out and try again.

As I said, this isn't always a perfect fix, but I'm certain you will be able to improve it.

  • This is a good general strategy, but you're assuming oil-based stain here aren't you? To my eye the wood looks like something else was used, but we'd need a clarification from the OP. – Graphus Feb 23 '20 at 8:11
  • good point there Graphus. – wabrrnt Feb 23 '20 at 14:58

I'm afraid the only real answer is "strip down and restain". The filler or putty or whatever that you used will never pick up stain the same way as wood. You may be able to get away with removing all traces of finish around the joint and using a wood "conditioner" or "priming" layer prior to trying to blend in the finish, but I think there is always going to be a seam.

  • +1 except for the "conditioner" suggestion. – Graphus Feb 21 '20 at 14:56
  • @Graphus, yeah I certainly don't know much about what so-called conditioners are, but as far as I can tell they are about raising grain and allowing softwoods to be properly wetted for more even colour. I bet water (or solvent, depending on finish) would work just as well! – jdv Feb 21 '20 at 15:03
  • Anyway, given that the ask is to not have to refinish the whole thing maybe there is a good-enough short-cut here? – jdv Feb 21 '20 at 15:06
  • 1
    No, the main function of "conditioner" is to limit stain absorption (all pre-staining 'sealing' does, regardless of the product used). This is how pre-treatment evens up blotching, because the product is absorbed more into the over-absorbent parts of the wood than in the rest which hopefully reduces how much stain will subsequently be taken in by those areas. So no purpose here. Unless a completely different finishing route is taken I believe the only option worth considering is sanding back and starting afresh. – Graphus Feb 21 '20 at 15:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.