When properly taken care of, wood is a beautiful addition to any home that can last a lifetime.  Before you begin a wood finishing project, you’ll want to know the basics to ensure you get the most professional looking results possible.  The key to any good wood finishing job is sanding.  Sand, sand, sand.  A thorough sanding will raise the quality of your results exponentially.

Choose a medium grade sandpaper to begin, and as the wood begins to smooth out, gradually switch to finer and finer grades of sandpaper.

Sand with the grain for best results.  Keep an eye on any joints in the wood that may have dried glue stuck in them.  Dried glue can interfere with your staining process down the road, so take care of it now with a good sanding.  If spots where the wood was cut against the grain (end-grains)  are exposed, they are likely to soak up more stain than areas that have been cut with the grain, so pay special attention to those end-grains and sand them down smooth.  If they’ve been sanded properly, you should be able to control the absorption of stain much better.

Sometimes you’ll come across more difficult sanding jobs such as the spindles on chairs.  In these scenarios, you can wrap your sandpaper around the spindle and pull it back and forth as though you were flossing.  Once you’re done sanding, remove all sanding dust.  You can use a vacuum, paintbrush or dry cloth to make sure all of it is gone.  To test for smoothness, run a dry sock across—if it snags, you’ve more sanding to do.

Now you’re ready for staining! 

Choose a natural wood stain and make sure you’re familiar with the application directions.  Stains come in a variety of colours and opacities, so always test the stain on a hidden area of your wood before applying it to the entire project.