I had a chest of drawers made of pine that had crayon marks on it. I sanded it down really well and applied a coat of golden oak stain after puttying the holes. Now there are light and dark spots showing through the stain. What did I do wrong?

  • 4
    Can you post a picture (or at least a link to a picture). The spots could be anything, but the most likely explanation is that the knots are showing through.
    – ChrisF
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 15:06
  • 3
    You probably did nothing wrong. Low-grade pine doesn't take stains well at all. It's typically a paint-grade material.
    – DA01
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 16:20

2 Answers 2


I believe you have to seal the wood with varnish before staining. The softness of the pine absorbs the stain irregularly and may be causing the spots.


Pine is notorious for needing to be sealed before staining. The wood soaks up stain too much. Hence, any impurities (e.g. old glue from incautious gluing), or areas of high sap concentration will vary how much the stain gets soaked in.

At this point, you need to sand the whole thing down to wood, apply a wood conditioner (probably on the shelf right next to the stain), and re-stain. If the wood is really sappy, you may actually need to varnish it instead as Rain said, as you can't just sand through that. Be especially conscious around knots as the stain take-up will be very different there.

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