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I printed parts for a Harry Potter wand with HatchBox Wood PLA, now I want to apply stain. I intended to try MinWax PolyShades wood stain, then noticed Varathane water-based wood stain is available at my local Rona hardware store. This seems a "healthier" option, maybe not as fussy to apply as PolyShades, anyone had experience with this product?

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to 3dPrinting.SE! $\endgroup$ – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 May 8 at 23:12
  • $\begingroup$ Really -- get those tiny sample-size tins and test on a random chunk of printed material. But be aware that stains are intended for wood, and your PLA is 95% not-wood $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft May 9 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft According to this $\endgroup$ – 0scar May 10 at 4:55
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    $\begingroup$ @0scar I stand corrected -- shame on me for not looking at the reel I have at home! $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft May 10 at 11:41
  • $\begingroup$ Did you get a chance to test it out yet? Please update. $\endgroup$ – T. M. May 12 at 0:12
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I ended up using Saman brand water-based wood stain, also from Rona hardware (a brand of Lowe's Canada). The selection of colours for Saman stains was greater than the Varathane stains.

I applied a single coat of colour #117 "Chamois" to the stem portion of the wand, and two coats of colour #120 "Dark Walnut" to the handle. I did not apply a varnish or sealer. The results seem acceptable, given that I Am Not A Carpenter, and this is my first go at printing and finishing wood PLA! Overall, I'm quite happy with the result. I left the PLA mostly unsanded to take advantage of the layers' wood-grain appearance.

Close up of wandAnother close up, showing the Dark Walnut stained handle at left, the Chamois stained stem at left, with a section of unstained wood PLA at the joint

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  • $\begingroup$ Very cool, I didn’t expect it to work that well. Hiding electronics in it is a cool idea too. $\endgroup$ – T. M. May 16 at 8:34
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Wood stains (as opposed to dyes, paints, etc.) work by having large particles that become lodged in the grain of the wood, yielding a result that varies in intensity with the grain of the wood and thereby brings out its beauty. It's unlikely that they will do what you want, or anything reasonable, on PLA that has wood particles mixed into it. You might be able to find some types of dyes that will work. I've used wood dyes on woods that don't take stain well and have had good results, and if the PLA+wood material consists of a significant amount of wood, it seems plausible that wood dyes might work well on it.

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    $\begingroup$ From what I've read: "Composition: 60 % PLA and 40 % wood", please add source for 95 %. I also read that it stains pretty well. $\endgroup$ – 0scar May 10 at 4:51
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    $\begingroup$ @R -- sorry for misleading you on the percent wood filler $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft May 10 at 11:42
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry. I'll edit that in a bit from a real keyboard. $\endgroup$ – R.. May 10 at 15:40
  • $\begingroup$ What's with the downvotes? Were they about the mistaken last sentence about composition, based on what Carl wrote? I've edited that out. I feel like the rest of the answer is good/informative - it explains the mechanism of stains and why they're unlikely to work on PLA+wood extrusion the same way they do on actual solid wood. $\endgroup$ – R.. May 10 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ I did some web research and found several examples that show stains do work on wood pla printed objects. I didn’t answer because I have no experience trying it and the op’s question was about a specific brand of stain. $\endgroup$ – T. M. May 11 at 3:07

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