How to Stain Wooden Corbels

What You'll Need
Unfinished wooden corbels
Acrylic- or oil-based wood stain
Acrylic- or oil-based polyurethane
120-grit and 220-grit sandpaper
Plenty of rags
Empty spray bottle

Wooden corbels are very popular in today's decorated kitchens. They are used to support granite and solid surface countertops, to add style and substance to freestanding islands and to create a custom-built look with regular cabinetry. Wooden corbels can be stained to enhance the grain and decorative carvings. You can stain corbels either to match existing cabinets or to stand out as accents. Both oil and latex stains are available, and each has its advantages.

Step 1 -- Prepare

If you are using brand new, unfinished wooden corbels, the only preparation you might need is some light sanding. The unfinished wood will feel smooth to the touch now, but the grain will become raised once the first coat of stain goes on. It is after the first coat of stain that you will sand the entire surface and wipe it down.

Step 2 -- Choose Your Stain

Choose which type of stain and polyurethane product you would like to use. You have two choices: oil-based and water-based. Oil-based stains have a longer working time and sometimes include a combination top coat. However, they take overnight to dry with each coat, have a strong smell and require the use of an oil-based polyurethane top coat. Acrylic or latex stains come in a variety of colors, including ones like blue, green and red. Acrylic and latex products dry faster and can be top-coated with less toxic latex polyurethanes. Often, staining and top-coating can be done in the same day. The choice is yours. The only important thing to remember is not to mix oil and latex products on the same project.

Step 3 -- Test Your Stain Colors

Test your stain colors on smaller scraps of wood before starting on your wooden corbels. Try to use the same kind of wood and wood similar in age as the corbels you are going to stain. If you can't find the perfect premixed color, experiment by blending two stain colors together. The more coats of stain you add, the deeper and richer the color will become. You can also lighten or darken the appearance of the stain depending on how much you wipe off. A generous supply of rags is recommended.

Step 4 -- Stain Your Wooden Corbels

Once you've decided on your stain, it is time to get started. Using a paintbrush and a rag, apply the stain to one side of the corbel and wipe off. Use your brush to dab and jab stain into crevices and edges. Finish staining and wiping one entire side before flipping it over and completing the other. Be sure to immediately wipe off any drips or excess stain. Leave it on a clean surface to dry thoroughly. Sand lightly with 120-grit sandpaper and wipe clean before applying a second coat of stain. Let dry.

Note that decorative wooden corbels can have hard-to-reach places, making them a challenge to stain evenly. For hard-to-reach places, put a small amount of stain in a spray bottle and spritz into the area. Then use your brush to work it into the grain. Immediately wipe with a rag. For an antique look, take some watered-down black paint and brush it into the cracks and details of your corbels and then immediately wipe the corbels off. This adds an accent to any edges or carvings.

Step 5 -- Seal Your Wooden Corbels

Apply protective top coat with either a brush or sprayer. Let dry thoroughly and sand with 220-grit sandpaper if needed. Wipe clean and apply another top coat of protective polyurethane.