We are trying to stain pine trim pieces that have heavily routed grooves and also rosettes for the corners. The trim is looking zebra-like with dark-light-dark light patches. The rosettes have circular routings which are taking the stain in many different ways so they look like many variances of color/finish.

  1. Can anything be done to fix the stain on the existing pieces, or do we need to buy new pieces?

  2. How can I sand these pieces without damaging the routing lines?

  • Can you post a link to a picture. It would help a lot. – Michael Karas Jun 1 '13 at 5:29

The problem is that pine in general is a difficult wood to stain. Some areas will absorb lots of stain, others that won't. But you have made it worse (not intentionally so) because of the routed regions. These offer much end grain on the surface, which just loves to soak up stain.

There are solutions. First, use a sanding sealer. This is usually a thin, clear liquid that when dry, will plug up the pores of the pine, controlling how your stain is absorbed. (Many sanding sealers are just shellac.)

You can also use a gel stain, a stain that is designed for these problem woods.

As for the existing wood that has been stained and is showing a problem, this will be difficult to fix without stripping. If not much has been stained like that, I'd just replace it with fresh wood.


Minwax along with others make a sanding sealer. It is applied prior to staining. It will allow for a more even coating of the stain in woods like pines, or open grain or on end cuts. You can try sealing and restaining to see if it evens the tones.

  • 2
    Can't really fix stained pieces, short of stripping. A 1 lb cut of shellac in alcohol is a frequent prestain treatment. Selectively sealing endgrain is a good technique, also. – HerrBag Jun 1 '13 at 14:49

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