Prepare Your Project
We are starting with a newly built project, built from pine. Always do a sample first to ensure you love the stain color on your wood - wood can vary even in the same species.
After you finish building your project use Minwax Stainable Wood filler to fill in any screw or pocket holes. Let the wood filler dry completely before applying stain over it. Depending on the size of the hole, will give you a good idea of how long it needs to dry. One reason why I love working with Minwax Stainable Wood Filler so much is that it accepts their stain well.
Sand your project. I started out with a belt sander and sanded the lumber before building and then moved to medium sandpaper on a little hand sander and then finished with a sanding block of 220 grit sandpaper.
Brush off all sanding residue. Use a damp rag to get any remaining residue.
Step 2: Apply Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner  to help the stain penetrate the wood evenly and reduce the effect of wood grain raising.
I always recommend gently stirring the product before applying, to get everything up from the bottom of the can.
Apply Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner  to your project with a foam brush or rag, allowing it to penetrate for about 5 to 15 minutes. Wipe off any excess wood conditioner with a clean cloth and apply stain within 2 hours.
Step 3: Stain
In this step, I apply Minwax Wood Finish , oil based stain to entire project to achieve the desired stain color.
Carefully stir the stain. Use a scrap piece of wood or inconspicuous area to test your stain and verify that it's the color you want.
Apply stain using a Minwax Wood Finish Stain brush (recommended) or foam brush following in the direction of the wood grain.
Let the stain penetrate the piece for 5-15 minutes and wipe excess stain off with a rag. The longer the stain penetrates the wood the darker it will be. Just don't let the excess stain dry on the wood!
After letting the pecan stain dry about 6 hours I was ready to apply my second color of stain. I chose Minwax Wood Finish  again, only this time in in Espresso.
Gently stir the stain.
Dip a rag into the stain. I would wear gloves because this part is a little messy!
Wipe stain on project concentrating on edges and crevices.
Immediately wipe stain off. I didn't let it soak in at all because I just wanted a little extra color. I love how the darker stain really brought out the details on my furniture piece. Continue doing the same for the whole project until you have just the color you want.
When you are happy with the look of your stained project, be sure to let it dry a fully 24 hours before applying the top coat to protect it.
Step 4: Apply Minwax Polycrylic
It's time to protect your beautiful finish and project! The stain will make the wood beautiful, but the top coat will make it last and easy to wipe clean.
I love using Minwax Water Based Polycrylic  because it is easy to apply, easy to clean up, and dries clear. You will need to use a synthetic brush for the water based polycrylic.
Carefully mix Minwax Polycrylic , don't shake! It will look milky in the can but will dry clear.
Use the Minwax Water Based Polycrylic brush  to apply a thin coat of Polycrylic. Brush in one direction following the wood grain. Be careful not to overbrush.
Let Minwax Polycrylic  dry at least 2 hours and then lightly sand with 220 grit sandpaper to help second coat of Minwax Polycrylic adhere and ensure a nice even finish.
Remove all dust.
Apply second coat and a third coat of Minwax Polycrylic  in the same way you did the first and second, sanding lightly between coats. After your project dries for 24 hours it's ready to use!
Isn't it beautiful how the two stain tones made this project so beautiful?
Don't forget to clean your brushes and store in original packaging for reuse!