How to Find Defects Before Staining a Woodworking Project

Simple Solution

Paintbrush applying stain on a woodworking project
Deposit Photos

Before staining a new woodworking project or refinishing a piece of furniture, you want to make sure you can detect any defects, such as sanding swirl marks or scratches.

In a cup, add a few ounces of mineral spirits and then pour in several drops of the wood stain.

Dip a clean cloth in the stain and wipe it onto the wood. Any defects will become clearly visible.

Let the pre-stain dry for a few minutes, then sand it again, paying particular attention to the area where you saw the flaws.


  1. If I don’t find any marks do I sand it again? I am just wondering if I apply wood conditioner before I do this test in case no marks where found and I don’t have to sand again. If I do have to sand again no matter what I found I guess I would wait until after I sanded again.

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