I got out the pre-stain and the Walnut Stain and dipped 40 poplar ties. I tried various techniques including dippling, brushing, dipping and shaking, dipping and wiping and discovered a number of things:
- Walnut stain eats Latex gloves (now my thumb is walnut stained)
- The best approach to applying stain is to dip the little ties, let sit for about 5 minutes, and then wipe
- The only benefit to using the pre-stain is that the ends of the ties do not absorb so much color
- The pre-stain does not make the stain take any more consistently on the poplar ties
While the ties were drying, I got out the table sander, put the coarse belt on, and sanded down all of the curves. I then put the fine belt on and sanded down a good finish. The sanding cleaned up all of the excess glue, flattened the dowels to the contour of the curve, and exposed a number of flaws in the assembly where there was not sufficient glue or pressure. The gaps are very thin and will fill in with the final finish. Once cleaned up, the curves look exceptionally nice and light.
After finishing the curves, there was still day light, so I got out the table saw and split a number of 6 foot pieces of wood in preparation for making straight rails. As I was cutting them and stacking them up, I realized that the straight pieces will require just as much attention as the curves because the wood immediately bent a small amount just after cutting. So, I will make a jig of some kind for the straight pieces.
Dusk came and so I brought all of the tools inside and got out the shop vac and cleaned up the patio. When I came in, I went ahead an assembled a 2 foot prototype with the oak rails and the stained poplar ties. Here is a picture of the prototype section in the press letting the glue dry.