finish hard maple with a toner or dye or stain? (For a bad finisher)

Keith Thomas

I am going to make some samples for our hard maple vanity. I have not done any finishing for at least 10 years and I wasn't that great at the time. The first cabinets I ever made I stained but there were tons of tiny little grayish spots. I think I remember some one telling me it was the pores in the maple and I needed to lightly seal the wood and then sand it to have the pores sealed before I stained it. I sanded all the finish off the doors and drawers (luckily I had a drum sander at the time) and sealed it with something and hand sanded and then stained. It came out very even in color. The seal I put on was thinned to 50% put I don't remember what I used.

This time I have 3 choices. I have a stain I ordered from kraftmaid that is the same as the stain on out kitchen cabinets, which is mohawk stain ginger color (I think I got ripped off). And I have 2 different trans tint dyes ( honey amber and golden brown) so I can either dye the wood or tone the top coat or a combination of both. The toner seams the easiest.

first question: If I just dye the wood Do I need to seal and finish sand the maple to keep the pores from soaking up to much before I use a dye?

Second question: Does using a toner hide a lot of the grain? Its maple which doesn't have a lot of variation in grain as it is. Thats why I like maple but I want some grain to show. I used a toner on maple for a friend and I remember everyone liking it but it was a darker brown and there wasn't much wood grain to see but I can't remember if that was because it was a toner. it was so long ago.

third question: is using a stain easier than using a dye? I am afraid of dying the wood. Probably because I never have done it before.

forth question: Anything any of you can think of on these choices?
contact jeff jewitt at homestead finishes, he will answer your questions or the forum folks will on his forum. he has a email and usually gets back to you in a couple days
I assumed you meant contact him here but he is not a member. I tried a stain and a dye on some scrap and I ended up with the tiny dark spots; like flecks almost. So I am trying some more samples that I'm going to seal with a
50% lacquer /50% thinner combination first. If memory serves (but it usually doesn't for me so I hope I'm correct) the last time I tried this I used 50/50 with poly and then sanded then stained. I guess the theory is the pores retain the sealer and the wood gets it sanded off to except the stain. it also fills the end grain a little to keep it from being darker. At least its just a couple of mini drawer front test pieces.