DIY Cornhole Boards, Part 2: Reverse Stain

With my cornhole boards built and my classic Woodie concept nailed down, I set out to do the fun part: paint! 

This portion of the project presented a unique challenge, one I'd never encountered even after 30 plus years of painting. I knew I wanted to achieve a 2-toned lacquered look on the face of my boards, but the glaring question was how? Since wood stain absorbs into the grain, (i.e., stain bleeds once applied) how was I to go about applying my hibiscus graphic to the boards and achieve the nice clean lines I was hoping for? 

First, we cut out the hibiscus parts from our paper image, and used the remaining stencil to draw the outlined parts on some special sticky paper.

This next part proved to be tricky, since you have one chance to position the sticker after removing the backing. When it makes contact with the plywood panel surface, pulling it back off can irreparably damage the plywood. So we taped the original stencil image outline to the cornhole board, which showed us exactly where to stick each piece, on both boards.   

Finally, we set up a ‘spray station’ outside, and sprayed the stain using a commercial HVLP system.  Any other method would apply too much stain to the surface. The stain could migrate underneath the sticky paper, and ruin any hope of straight edges on our hibiscus design. 

Once the spray application was completed, we let the surfaces dry overnight.

The climax of the operation came the next day, as we removed the stain-coated sticky paper from the cornhole board surfaces.  This was make or break time.

By slowly peeling the adhesive at a 45º angle, the paper came off smoothly and cleanly. 

The boards looked great, all the image edges nice and straight!  

But still, for this much work, the boards looked a little bit understated. They needed one last touch to look finished. 

Next time: Part 3, Adding Classic California Woodie Paint and Clear Coats


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