Staining is a pain in so many ways. It's terribly messy. You're swabbing around all this pigment, most of which you'll eventually wipe off anyway. You have to be careful to avoid blotching. This isn't really as much of a problem with hardwoods, like the maple and birch I used for the bookcases, but just to make sure I've been using a gel stain instead of a standard solvent stain. The gel allows much more even coloration than standard stain does. I'd tried it last year on the pine I used for window trim in the back room, and was very impressed with the results. At least that got easier. Finally, there's the problem of color matching with the old woodwork.
The woodwork in the house was originally stained a sort of dark honeyish color. Trying to find a match is a problem, because I don't know exactly what color they used originally, or even what brand, and I'm pretty sure they didn't use a gel stain. (Naturally, the palette of gel stain colors available is different from that of standard stains from the same manufacturer.) The closest match I could find was a color called 'antique maple,' which when I applied it to the back of some of the original molding, appeared to be virtually identical. When I applied it to the new woodwork around the window, though, it came out much lighter, and even a slightly different color. Part of this is because the new woodwork was pine rather than the original spruce (I think), so the underlying color of the wood is different. The other thing is that the reason gel stains don't blotch is because they don't really apply a whole lot of color to the wood on a single pass. You want darker, and you have to reapply twelve hours later.
Anyhow, the antique maple is close enough, and I decided to apply the stain to the visible portions twice to develop the proper darkness. Actually, the second application really didn't seem to make it that much darker, but I'm doing them all the same way, just in case. The color looks good. The only problem encountered was trying to make sure the stain got completely down into the grooves of the beadboard, and that just means running the brush over the grooves a couple three or four times each.
It was a warm day today, although it was windy and rainy at times, so I was able to open the windows to air out most of the paint thinner fumes. Being a chemist means I'm more inured to fumes than most folks, but I'd still rather have the fresh air, so it was nice that the weather was cooperating. It occurred to me that I should've done the assembly and the staining up in the attic, because the air flow is better, and I could close the door to keep the fumes out of the rest of the house. Too late now. Varnishing will be better - water based urethane, with no odor at all.
In addition to the staining, I replaced the photo sensor in one of the front porch lights. It had been on constantly, day and night, for the last couple of weeks. I had to do this to the other porch light last fall. I also started in on the long overdue cleaning of my office (aka the dining room), and it was here that my run of luck finally caught up with me. I had just opened a beer, which was sitting on my desk as I was installing some shelf supports over the desk. One thing led to another, and I knocked tthe bottle off the desk, whereupon it hit the floor and spurted all of it's contents onto the rug. Ah, well. Better a bottle of beer than dropping a can of stain.