Knowing which stains to pick for the woods you are using for your special projects makes all the difference in it's finish and appeal. For DIY Woodworking – woods and stains, consideration in any finish should be given to the kind of wood you are using. Don't expect fir to look like limed oak or walnut.
Check out these quick thumbnails on woods and stains:
Ash takes all stains well, but it requires a heavy filler for all level finishes. All finishes are usually dull-rubbed or waxed.
Has small pores and can be finished with or without filler. Birch takes a good walnut, mahogany or cherry finish. Bleaches well.
Cedar is a soft wood and requires a shellac sealer coat to seal the oil in the wood. Use a Venetian red oil color reduced with naphtha (a paint solvent and additive) and apply it with a rag. For interior of hope chests and closets, no stain or finish should be applied
Cherry is very attractive in light brown or red, but it does not bleach. It has small pores, so it need not be filled, but a thin filler can be useful. Cherry is usually rubbed and polished except when antique finished.
True mahogany should be finished only as mahogany in various shades of reds or browns. Avoid using dark stains on mahogany. Mahogany bleaches well. All mahoganies tend to whisker under water stain and are best finished with non-grain raising stains.
Maple wood requires no filler. Selected white woods can be used for modern blond tones with or without staining. To get brown and red tones use a double-staining technique. Does not respond well to bleaching.
There are over 300 varieties of oak which can be generally classed as red or white. White oak is the superior oak with open pores which require a heavy filler base. There is no stain required for natural, light or golden colors.
There's white and yellow pine, both of which are treated differently. Both woods are attractive in natural and stained finishes, but white pine is subject to some pitch bleeding and should be sealed with a first coat of a synthetic resin primer.
Walnut is excellent for all shades of stain of brown, but not red. The sap wood is creamy and requires an extra stain coat to match. Use of hot linseed oil will bring out excellent color.