To remove as much pain from the process in my upcoming projects, I’ve decided to start a collection of various stains/sealers so I can reference a physical example of the final results. I wanted to test specific combinations of products and woods to know what to expect, and would just hang on to every variation I tried. To get the most out of every sample, I came up with a way to show as many possible combinations of each product per piece (including the effects on end grain vs face.
I decided the easiest size to recreate in the future would be a square cut off of a 2×4 (3.5″x3.5″x1.5″) After hitting each face with a random orbital sander, I left one face “raw” then painted the others with pre-stain, then applied the stain. I only stained 3 of the faces, one of which was end grain. After a day of letting that dry out a bit, I painted on the first coat of sealer. I applied the sealer in a “band” around the block so that it would seal both stained-face, stained-end, unstained-face, and unstained-end. This band also left one of the stain-faces completely unsealed. I used the untouched “raw” face to write down the product info. I’d love to come up with a better way to label, but for now I’m just writing on the sample directly. Here’s a diagram that shows all the faces. The red shows where stain was applied.