I did some test staining on pine scraps, and I ended up with a cross grain arc that's darker than everything else. Where did I go wrong? (Or is it just the pine?)
(Related to this question, as a follow-up. I realized I had already accepted an answer to the original, so this should be a separate question.)
I recently built a pine bench, and I'm trying to figure out the best way to stain it. My wife and I decided on Minwax Hickory Gel Stain because we wanted a darker finish. The Home Depot paint/stain department employee also recommended it along with Minwax Wood Conditioner for staining pine.
I applied the Minwax Wood Conditioner (oil-based) to a scrap 1x12, and then 15 minutes later I applied the Minwax Hickory Gel Stain (also oil-based) with a foam brush and wiped it off with a rag 5 minutes later. I noticed there was an arc of darker color going against the grain on the test scrap. Any ideas how this happened?
I made very sure that I sanded with the grain (by hand), starting with 100 grit, moving to 150, and finally 220. The only thing that I can think of is I wiped the sawdust away with a very slightly damp rag, without paying attention to grain direction. Then about 15 minutes later I applied the wood conditioner. Could the be the cause of the streaking? I'd like to figure out the cause before I move onto staining my actual project.
Also, I applied a second coat of stain 8 hours after the first. I let it sit for about twice as long before I wiped it off this time. I didn't notice much of a difference in color from the first coat. Is there something about gel stains that it doesn't matter number of coats/how long it's left on?
EDIT: Here's a photo (the streak starts in the bottom left and goes toward the top right): The random little spots running in a line vertically are test distressing marks I applied, to see how they would turn out when stained.