Staining Supplies to "Finish" Strong

Staining supplies and finishing products can fill an entire website all on their own. There are so many techniques, so many different types of stains and finishes and so many different ways to apply them that I simply couldn't cover them all here.

Since this site is really about the basics of making picture frames, I thought it would be a good idea to give you the basics on how to stain and finish your frame.

Over the years I have had the pleasure of working with and learning from a terrific partner on this picture frame express!

Without her hard work, dedication, love and expertise; not to mention
her patience with me, this train would have come off the tracks a long time ago!

I always knew my mother was an amazing woman, but when she jumped in, 13 years ago, to help me get this thing off the ground, I was amazed even more.

She has stained and finished well over 1000 frames since then and has perfected her craft. One of the comments I hear most often from people who buy a frame (over 1000 sold) is how beautiful the finish looks.

With that many frames under her belt, my mother has created a very easy to use and very efficient process that I will outline shortly. If you use these techniques and basic staining supplies, you will feel like a pro!

I would like to thank my mother - Joan - here, publicly and let her know how much I appreciate her and love her!! This entire experience has been much more enjoyable (and successful!!) because of her!

Staining Supplies -The Basics

Before we get to the actual process we need to go over some of the basic staining supplies you'll need.

Here is a list of things I - excuse me I should say, my mother, recommends:


  • tack cloth
  •  0000 steel wool (MC)
  •  painters tape


  •  gloves
  •  rags
  •  1" foam brush (MC)
  • painters blocks
  •  spinning table (MC)


  •  gel stains (MC)
  • oil-based stains - water-based stains
  •  polyurethane finish (satin (MC), semi-gloss or gloss)
Warm Cherry Stain on a Solid Cherry Diploma Frame

Cherry frame, 2 coats of Warm Cherry Stain, 4 coats of satin finish.

These basics will get you off and running.

The "MC" stands for "Mom's Choice" - these are the items that my mom prefers, though other options certainly work.

Remember, when you think about how to stain, its much like how to make a picture frame - you need to find the tools and techniques that work best for you.

Never forget safety either. While stains don't sound very dangerous, they can be if you're careless. Be sure to have plenty of ventilation, use a respirator and properly dispose of oily rags and brushes.

Now we are on to the finishing lap...

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Updated November 18, 2022