i'm thinking about making a flame-maple pick guard from strips of f.m. veneer, but i don't have a single piece that's wide enough, so i figured i would book-match the top layer
i tried it once, but when i went to stain, the stain soaked into the edge and got really dark
What type of stain are you using? Pigment or dye? Some woods look better with pigment stain and some with dye stain. Also it sounds like the endgrain of the veneer is soaking up too much of the stain causing it to look darker. See if this helps. Cut the edges with a razor blade. Fit them as tightly as possible. Then apply glue-size as a sealer. This will keep an even distribution of stain and not allow it to seep into the endgrain causing a dark area. Try J.E. Moser's Wood Prep. Any brand will do though.