I recently decided to cut some small squares of material scrap and apply various stains to share the results. See below for some highlights and what stains I ended up using.
Note: white wood filler works great in acrylic rastered text.
Applying the Stain:
I would first recommend cleaning any soot off the wood, especially inside engraved areas as well as the edges if you want to lighten the laser cut sides a bit. If you're unsure how the stain will preform just grab some of the scrap cutouts that came with your order and try it on those first! I keep most of my scrap and think of them as weirdly shaped material samples.
I suggest applying several light coats of stain until you reach color you desire. I used a old cotton t-shirt to wipe my stains on without any issues. As when working with anything in this vein do so in a well ventilated area.:)
Bamboo: With the 3mm amber especially be careful not to snag a grain and pull it up when wiping the stain on. I had a few spots where I left cotton fibers during wiping and had to pull them out. I liked the teak oil as well as the butcher block conditioner. I can't recommend the darker stains...
Walnut: Unfinished walnut is a bit on the "dry" side color wise (at least to me). Pretty much any finish goes a long way to giving you a richer/fuller walnut color. Most of the samples look very similar but I wouldn't suggest doing dark stains or you'll loose that great walnut hue.
White Oak: Because of the deeper grain on the white oak veneer, quickly wiping off a light coat of stain gives it an interesting striped look. Apply multiple coats of stain to lessen this effect.
Medium-density fibreboard (MDF): Being what it is, lacking a grain and all it takes color but doesn't look that great. I think staining it black is interesting as it blends the faces with the burnt edges. MDF also soaks up dyes well and even water colors. Just be careful to put it on evenly so you avoid blotches.
There are many interesting stains, finishes and dyes for wood products; these are just the ones I had on hand for my initial testing.
Behlen Solar-Lux Stain(Jet Black) The jet black does really good at making your material black, some of the grain ends up with a lighter sheen but for the most part the grain pattern is lost. This stain comes in a wide range of colors and only a couple light coats are needed for most woods. I've also used a lacquer over the top of this color before with good results.
This contains food grade mineral oil as well as beeswax and carnauba wax.
Directions: Apply warm and follow the grain. Let soak in for at least 20 minutes then wipe off any excess.
I liked using something that helps bring out the color of the natural wood and not adding something else. You might also try to find just mineral oil as that will give you a similar result.
Teak Oil Finish
More for hardwoods... If you need UV protection and some moisture resistance, consider the teak oil finish.
Penetrating oil & varnish hardens in the wood. Comes in several colors including Dark/Medium/Light Walnut, Natural, Cherry and Red Mahogany. Wouldn't suggest the darker colors on the lighter woods like the blonde bamboo.
Danish Oil (Natural)
Very similar to Walnut see above.
Minwax (Ebony) Didn't look great on the bamboo, the light coat I gave it made it have an almost mildew look. Leave the stain on longer than I did and apply multiple coats! You can find a full range of available colors here.
Does anyone want to share any stains, paints or dyes they've used on projects and how it turned out?