Here’s How To Bring Out The Grain In Wood

How To Bring Out The Grain In Wood Image 1

While you can have metallic, plastic, and wooden items in your home, objects made of wood typically provide you with the most benefits as long as you know how to preserve and care for them properly.

For one, fashioning wood is simple; you can add exquisite designs to tables, chairs and other objects.

Wood is also durable; many wooden doors have lasted for hundreds of years, particularly those used in European castles, chateaus, and manors.

Wood is also fairly easy to maintain if you know a few things.

Best of all, wooden items can be very beautiful, especially if you know how to bring out the grain. Here are some valuable tips on how you do just that.


Here’s how to bring out the grain in wood…

The best way to bring out the grain in wood is to stain and varnish.

First gather the following tools and materials:

  • A stain applicator (a clean brush or cloth will do)
  • Gloves
  • A facemask
  • A dry cloth
  • An overall
  • A stain
  • A damp cloth
  • Fine grit paper

Next, follow these six simple steps. The grain in your wooden items will be distinct and beautiful afterwards!

Step 1: Prepare

Put on the protective gear that you have. Remember, you will handle chemicals during the process. The wood you’re working with may also have splinters that harm your fingers or tear your clothes.

Then, prepare your working area. You can do that by assembling your tools and materials. Put them on a nearby tray.

Step 2: Clean & Repair

Start cleaning the item you want to polish. In other words, remove the dirt, dust it, and get rid of any grime that may be on the surface.

You can also make some repairs at this point. For example, a nail or screw may be loose; fix it and then proceed to the next step.

Step 3: Sand

Use fine sandpaper to remove any stains or varnish on the item. Sand it to a smooth finish.

Sanding is very important because it prevents uneven finishes and makes your wood look nice and consistent from one end to another. Remember to work along the grain, as sanding against it will leave scratches on the surface.

Step 4: Clear Dust

Sanding leaves dust on the wood, and clearing it is critical before you apply anything to it. Use a damp cloth to remove it. Make sure that the fabric is free of lint.

Let the wood dry before you move on to the next step.

Step 5: Apply First Stain Coat

Here comes the exciting part: applying the first coat of stain on the item. The wood will absorb it, but rough surfaces will take in more stain than smooth surfaces do. It is highly unlikely that one coat will be enough, especially if you’re working with a rough surface.

How To Bring Out The Grain In Wood Image 2

Image by r. nial bradshaw, CC BY 2.0 | Cropped

Start by stirring the stain to make sure that it mixes well. Then use a stain applicator (sponge, brush or clean cloth) to soak into it. Take the applicator and apply the stain generously on the item’s surface. Move along the grain in one continuous movement. Apply the stain evenly on the entire surface.

Wait for fifteen minutes after you apply the first coat. Doing so will give the stain enough time to absorb into the wood. Keep in mind that 15 minutes is just a suggestion; environmental conditions may necessitate additional time for the absorption to take place. Make sure that the first coat absorbs into the wood before you move to the next step.

Step 6: Apply Second Stain Coat & Varnish

Apply the second coat four or six hours later. I highly recommend reading the recommendations of the manufacturer and following the instructions properly.

Finally, wait for the wood to absorb the stain. Seal it with a clear varnish to protect the surface from damage and to make it look nice.

Make sure not to overlap the stain because doing so will darken the surface of the wood.

An additional tip on how to bring out the grain in wood is to sand between layers of stain.

The video below shows you a few examples of stains you can use to make the wood grain pop:


Follow these six steps on how to bring out the grain in wood and you’re sure to end up with a fantastic result.

Thanks for reading this article. If you have any questions, feedback or comments, drop them in the comments! Feel free to share the article if you liked it using the buttons below.

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2 Responses

  1. Bill says:

    ey Scott, I’ve done this myself and it really works a treat. When it comes to stains, I definitely go with water-based to avoid fumes… but it’s amazing how much this process can raise the grain. great article, thanks.

    • Scott says:

      Hey Bill, thanks, and glad you got good results. I use water-based stains on occasion — they tend come in a wide variety of colours, which is nice!

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