If I am staining or applying any type of finish to a piece, and have to turn it upside down at some point or set it on something to dry, what can I set it on that won't mark the finish?

A limited selection of failed strategies so far:

  • Setting on pointy edge of aluminum angles - marks finish; or pulls a line off if finish is still tacky
  • Setting on pointy edge of wood triangles - same as above.
  • Setting on wood spacers - spacers soak stain out of piece, worse depending on what type of wood the spacers are
  • Cloth barrier - cloth soaks stain and finish out of piece, sticks to piece
  • Wax paper barrier - somewhat ok, often still pulls bits off of tacky finish or stain or leaves scuffs on finish

Everything I've tried so far either rubs or soaks up the stain and/or finish on the piece.

Even when e.g. stain doesn't seem tacky, if I leave the piece on wooden spacers overnight when I come back in the morning their are inevitably lighter spots where the spacers were and stain on the spacers.

Short of an antigravity chamber or strong enough magnetic field for levitation of wood, how can I support a work-in-progress without damaging it?

3 Answers 3


Finish one side, let it dry, finish the other.

Or hang it from a string (as some folks do when spray-finishing cabinet doors).

Many people do use nail points or other nonabsorbant supports. Many plastic objects are marketed for the purpose... The point (sorry) of all of these is that if there's any marring, it's a tiny dot which becomes completely invisible if you're laying down multiple coats.

I'm sure there are other solutions.

  • Nail points. Perfect. Or even just little pyramids made of something nonabsorbant.
    – Jason C
    Commented Dec 14, 2015 at 19:21
  • 1
    I've used plastic points built for the purpose. I though they would leave a mark in the finish, but I never saw one.
    – Curt
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 15:33
  • Something like this would be the same as nails amazon.com/Painter-ins-Pyramids-Feature-10-Pack/dp/B004AK09WK
    – Dano0430
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 17:33

If I am staining or applying any type of finish to a piece, and have to turn it upside down at some point or set it on something to dry, what can I set it on that won't mark the finish?

You really can't do this in practice IMO. You'll find a few tips online and in articles on how this can be achieved but in reality I think even the best of them (the piece supported on sharp points) only work if one side — the side that will eventually be the most visible — is uppermost during the drying period.

As keshlam mentions in his Answer the tiny dot that results can become obscured when laying down multiple coats, but that's not an absolute. I've experienced it myself where the 'bleb' left by the drying of the first coat was still plain to see (to me at least) after numerous coats of finish.

One way people try to work around this is to make the support points sharper, to minimise the surface contact, but that's not ideal either because sharp points will of course tend to sink into the wood, and the heavier the workpiece the greater this effect. The tiny divot left behind by the tip of a sharpened brad can be plainly visible even on a relatively light piece, it would be quite pronounced on anything heavier.

You can however support some pieces in other ways. I don't think there's any workpiece or subassembly which is viewed equally on all sides in its finished orientation. So you can for example support shelf boards by their edges, a table can be supported on its feet, and so forth.

  • The more points (and the more coplanar they are) the less they'll sink in -- the bed-of-nails effect
    – keshlam
    Commented Dec 14, 2015 at 20:43
  • @keshlam, yes that's an excellent point! I should have thought of that myself. But I still think you'll get blebs.
    – Graphus
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 13:45

Personally I like to put a screw in a non visible spot and then finish the piece. Once done then you can hang it. If you're spraying then you can hang it prior to applying the finish. One of the last times I used this was a bunch of shelves that were painted white on both sides and the edges. I put a screw on the side and used that to keep the piece standing on the back edge so it wouldn't fall over. While the finish on those sides wasn't perfect it didn't really need to be since the only time someone would see the imperfection is when moving shelves around. I could have hung the shelves with a bit more work but chose not to.

  • That's a great idea.
    – Jason C
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 18:30

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