My first time working with stains and I've run into a bit of an issue. I am using timber protect oil based stains in Walnut colour on pine plywood and I misjudged my coverage area with my initial purchase and had to go back for a second tin.

Problem is that despite buying the same product the result between the two finishes is very different (see the pictures below). After opening the second can I realised the first can was too thick to be normal. I went ahead with finishing the stain hoping things would be ok but they have turned out very differently.

How can I fix this so that the colours match? Ideally I would like to match to the second can as it looks better.

Stain Can:

Stain can

First can on the right, new can on the left:

New on left, first on right

New stain on top, first stain on the bottom:

new stain ontop of old stain

  • 1
    Have you tried a second coat in an inconspicuous spot? If the first was just thickened in the tin (so only that, no other differences during manufacture) it will mean that more pigment went on the wood and further coats may get you to the same colour or close enough that you can live with it.
    – Graphus
    Jun 12 '19 at 14:50
  • @Graphus I haven't yet. I tried a light sanding of the darker section to see how hard it would be to sand back. The sandpaper just gummed up straight away though.
    – linksassin
    Jun 13 '19 at 0:45
  • If you leave it longer sanding could become easier as the binder in the product would have had longer to cure. But it will never cure hard so could remain difficult to sand permanently. However the current state does open up another possibility for removing the excess on the darker part. It's likely to still be easily soluble in mineral spirits or paint thinner, so you may be able to wipe it lighter. You'll need plenty of clean rags or paper towels and it'll require lots of solvent so work somewhere with good ventilation, outdoors if possible. And wear a respirator too if you like.
    – Graphus
    Jun 13 '19 at 8:20
  • An old technique for paints is to mix some tor the first batch with the second batch to give a gradual transition of any small difference. Jun 13 '19 at 15:43

(This feels like there is already Q&A about this, but I cannot find it. It might be hidden in a comment or one of the many good Answers by @Graphus on finishing.)

The comment is on the right track: follow the instructions on the tin for applying another layer to all pieces, possibly thinning it out a bit and being careful to apply evenly (again, read the instructions).

Remember to stir the finish gently as you apply this final coat to keep the pigments suspended.


Here's what I did

It's been cold and wet here so it was a while before I could get back to finish this. Here is what I ended up doing.

  1. Added a second coat to the lighter sections.
    • This was closer but still not identical.
  2. Heavily sanded the darker section once fully dried.
    • Allowing it to dry prevented it from gumming up the sandpaper.
    • This removed the darkest parts but also made it patchy.
  3. Lightly sanded the entire piece.
    • This was to give a unified starting point for the next step.
  4. Applied another coat to the entire piece.
    • Carefully followed the instructions for this step.
    • Brought entire piece closer to the original darker colour.
  5. Applied a matte clear coat.
    • Further unified the colour and finish of the piece.
    • Provided a protective finish.

The end result was still noticeable but not so bad that I can't live with it.

  • 2
    Thanks for remembering to come back with your final resolution!
    – FreeMan
    Jul 24 '19 at 19:47

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