The last step before finishing a woodworking project, or when you’re refinishing a piece of furniture, is to sand it really well.

In this case, I have this prop that I sanded with an orbital sander, then I finished it with some hand-sanding. But before you stain it, you want to make sure you can detect any defects, whether sanding swirl marks or scratches.

I took a cup, and I added a few ounces of mineral spirits. Then I put in just a few drops of the stain we’re gonna be using. Then I’m gonna test this piece of wood to see how clean it is, how scratch-free it is, by dipping cloth in the stain. Wear rubber gloves and wipe it on — let’s see what we can discover.

By pre-staining it like this, it gives you a really good idea of where the defects are, where the flaws are. So you just let that dry for a few minutes, come back and sand it again, paying particular attention to any flaws or defects, and you have a nice smooth piece of wood ready for the final coat of stain.

Watch the video above to see Joe’s Simple Solution.

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Joe Truini

Radio Show Co-Host

Joe Truini is a contractor, author, and the host of “Simple Solutions” on Today’s Homeowner TV and the weekly Today’s Homeowner radio show. He has worked on both large commercial projects and residential remodeling, and has written for national publications such as This Old House and Popular Mechanics. He has also written eight books, including three best-selling shed-building books. Joe lives in Connecticut with his family and enjoys hiking, traveling, and baseball in his spare time.

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