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I am wondering how long after applying the stain do I need to wait before applying urethane. The weather in my parts is a bit capricious, so I am keen to keep wood outside as little as possible.

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    You want the wood and stain to be dry, with dry wood some stains can be coated in 24 hours. On my personal projects I try and give a week but if the wood is well dried I have put poly over stain that was applied 12 hours prior. Just make sure to allow the time the MFG suggests or longer, a fan moving air can speed the process. – Ed Beal Jul 10 '20 at 13:51
  • There is a ton of finishing information at Woodworking. Check out the finishing tag – FreeMan Jul 10 '20 at 18:04
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The stain needs to be dry but also make sure the wood does not absorb moisture.

Normally wood for interior use needs to be kept indoors / under cover within temperature and humidity limits otherwise it can start to bend.

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Wood is sensitive to humidity. Taking indoor furniture and leaving it outside for extended periods (especially in the humidity and rain!!!) is inviting warpage later.

You are better off giving stain all the time you possibly can give it, regardless of your olfactory sensibilities. Most of the off-gassing will occur in the hours after staining, so when it’s dry to the touch, consider bringing it indoors.

When you “rush it”, you wind up with defects, and stain/sealer defects are not feasible to “fix”. With the inexpensive pine furniture I use, I just consider it a $70 lesson, Freecycle the faulty furniture, and buy another piece and go again.

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