Ask the Staff
I am finishing a highly carved clock case. It was suggested that I use stain conditioner, but once I had applied the conditioner, the wood became much darker than expected. I do not wish to add further stain, which will only darken the wood. My question is, can I apply a clear finish directly on the conditioner?
If the stain conditioner was from the same manufacturer as the stain product you were considering applying, you should be able to top coat over the conditioner per the manufacturer's direction using the appropriate top coat(s) for use over the stain.
As you have discovered, the steps in finishing can give unexpected results. Doing your own tests on scrap samples is the only true way to know how the product will look and behave. Going on what any "tech or sales" person says or only on what a product label says on a can, often leads to less than desirable results. I suggest applying the conditioner on some test scraps, and then applying the top coat finish you were considering on those tests to see how it looks and if the finish seems to be adhering well over the conditioner.
With any finishing endeavor, especially with product you are using for the first time or on wood that is new to you, always do your scrap tests first to know your methods and know your results. This mantra trumps all else in the world of finishing. The time it takes to discover that a test scrap comes out looking the way you do NOT like, is way less problematic than trying to remove finish product from a piece where you have scores of hours of labor and expensive wood invested.
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