Using Mineral Spirits to Show Wood Grain

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It’s a magic moment…when finish hits your project for the first time and the grain starts to pop, glow, show you just what you’re going to get, it’s soooo cool. Here’s the problem. As you build your project or, even more importantly, as you select your material, you may have a hard time knowing how things are going to look when you get to that magic moment. What will that bees wing walnut or quilted maple or quarter sawn white oak look like when you apply finish? You certainly don’t want to apply finish to a piece of wood BEFORE you incorporate in your project. What’s the solution? Simple. Mineral spirits.

What Mineral Spirits Provide

What makes wood look good under finish? Finish makes wood look wet. What we’re getting from mineral spirits is the opportunity to give wood that wet look, temporarily. unlike finish. As the mineral spirits dries the wet look goes away. But it’ll stick around long enough that you can get a great idea of what the project will look like under finish.

After Effect

Once your “science experiment” is complete, be sure the mineral spirits is completely dry, and do some light sanding to any areas that had mineral spirits on them. As long as there’s ample drying time after you the mineral spirits and before finish, you’ll be fine.

Finishing can be tricky

There’s no easier way to mess up a project than by not doing the finishing steps correctly. It’s a great idea to practice your finishing on scrap before you get to the real project, and also a good idea to let us help you out with more wood finishing tips. For example, you could use homemade wood stain on your next project. Yep, there’s lots of finishing info out there.

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3 Responses to “Using Mineral Spirits to Show Wood Grain”

  1. Eastbaygrease

    I accidentally tried that with “Klean-Strip Mineral Spirits Substitute”, and ruined the venneer on a grained match white oak cabinet.

  2. Ed

    In wood shop in high school they told us to use water, not a lot obviously, just enough to get it wet. Anything wrong doing it that way?

    • Customer Service
      Customer Service

      There’s no problem with doing it that way, but just remember that water will raise the grain of the wood so you will have to sand it smooth after it dries.

      Woodworkers Guild of America