How to Stain Mahogany Wood

Written by robert korpella
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How to Stain Mahogany Wood
Mahogany is a rich wood that takes stains well. (Mahogany Bridge image by Ray Kasprzak from

Mahogany is an open-grained wood similar to oak and walnut. A smooth, flat finish requires the grain to be sealed with a wood filler prior to staining. Leaving the wood grain open to allow the character of the wood to show through and be felt by hand is another option.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Mahogany wood
  • Wood filler
  • Paint thinner
  • Wood stain
  • Nylon rag
  • Staining brush, foam brush or clean cotton wiping cloth
  • 120-grit and 150-grit sandpaper
  • Tack cloth

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  1. 1

    Sand the mahogany with 120-grit sandpaper. Make the piece as smooth as possible and remove any pencil marks that served as witness lines as well as any tooling marks from machining.

  2. 2

    Decide whether to close the pores of the wood's grain for a smooth finish.

  3. 3

    Mix the wood filler per the manufacturer's instructions if you've chosen to fill the pores. Paint thinner is typically used for mixing filler to a paste-like consistency.

  4. 4

    Press the filler into the mahogany using a nylon rag and apply against the grain. Work in sections small enough that the wood filler will not dry out before you finish applying filler.

  5. 5

    Wipe with the grain after adding wood filler across the piece.

  6. 6

    Allow the filler to dry for 24 hours before working the mahogany again.

  7. 7

    Sand the piece smooth with 120-grit sandpaper, then follow with a sanding using 150-grit sandpaper.

  8. 8

    Apply wood stain with a staining brush, foam brush or clean cotton cloth. Use caution not to flood the piece with stain, especially if the mahogany was not sealed with a wood filler. Keep a wet edge while wiping stain onto the wood.

  9. 9

    Wait five to ten minutes before using a clean cotton cloth (different than the one used to apply stain) to wipe off excess stain.

  10. 10

    Wipe the piece down with a tack cloth after the stain has had a chance to dry for 24 hours. Apply a protective finish such as polyurethane, varnish, shellac or tung oil.

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