Kitchen cabinet makeover

My kitchen cabinets are about 15 years old. The frames and doors are solid wood (oak?) although the end panels appear to be veneered plywood. They were apparently finished with an oil-based poly and do have an ambered appearance.
The doors are in pretty good shape -- a few have some grease marks and water stains mainly along the top edge. In a few cases, the old poly has flaked off.
The frames are structurally great but the finish is in poor shape with a lot of flaking.
I'd like to give them a makeover but stripping or sanding the entire surface area down to bare wood is daunting. Therefore, I'm considering a hybrid approach and would welcome any comments or suggestions.
Frames: 1. Clean to remove all grease 2. Sand to bare wood 3. Stain? A quick test (few square inches) suggests this may not be necessary for a decent match. But perhaps it will help the appearance and give a better bonding surface for the poly? 4. Apply 3 coats of Minwax Polycrylic Gloss 5. Lightly sand -- I'll probably use one of those scotchbright things 6. Apply 1 coat of Minwax Polycrylic Satin
Doors: 1. Use a "deglosser" product to clean/etch the surface 2. Apply 1 coat of Minwax Polycrylic Gloss 3. Lightly sand -- I'll probably use one of those scotchbright things 4. Apply 1 coat of Minwax Polycrylic Satin
An oil based poly may be slightly more durable but the Minwax product seems almost as good and a *lot* more convenient.
Obviously, there's potential for a mismatch between the doors and the frames. I can certainly live with that if it's minor.
Comments and suggestions much appreciated.
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Malcolm Hoar wrote:

You realize that Polycrylic isn't polyurethane (it's acrylic), yes? You realize that polyurethane is available in a water base, yes?
Myself, I'd choose the polyurethane...
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Yes and yes.

Water or oil based?
I figure the Minwax Polycrylic will outlast the water based polyurethane. It's likely not quite as durable as a good quality oil based polyurethane. But it is more convenient.
I *think* the existing finish is oil based polyurethane but I could be wrong about that. Another nice feature of the Polycrylic is that it should be compatible with the existing finish, whatever was actually used.
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clipped

just plain oil. Of course, if it is peeling the loose stuff has to go. Clean, dry, free of dust.....
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90% of the surface area is door (versus frame). However, 90% of the peeling is on the frame.
So the doors are in pretty good shape -- just a touch-up job here and there. The finish on the cabinet frames is in a fairly sorry state.
Hence the thought of using different treatments for door .v. frame.
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Malcolm Hoar wrote:

Either __________
Not likely.
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Malcolm Hoar wrote:

Either finish, if it doesn't seal the grain, can allow moisture to get in. Includes joints with end grain. Lots of woodworkers thin the first coat of finish a bit so it sinks into the grain better. Oil finish, IMO, is a good deal tougher and less apt to soak up dirt/stains. The areas that are flaking probably were either greasy or too glossy to hold the next coat. On the peeling frames, I would scrape carefully to get the flaky stuff off and then sand until they are uniform. If the doors are not stained, a clear finish on the frames should be a close match with clear finish. After scraping off loose finish, just a scrubbing with steel wool and mineral spirits likely would get them in shape for another coat or two. If there is bare wood, it will show darker when the min. spririts are wet. MS dries pretty quick - give it a day or two.
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Malcolm Hoar wrote:

How many cabinets are there?? Your idea to sand down to bare wood sounds problematic. Sanding is an unpleasant job and worth avoiding. For you to sand down to bare wood will be more difficult than you think. It is possible you may never be able to sand every bit of the paint off to the degree that you wil find it to be stainable wood. It is more likely for you to get it off if you use a paint stripper.
Even then, you may be dissapointed with what you find underneath. Keep your options open until the stripping and sanding is done. thant way you can decide, if necessary, to just paint them and call it good.
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43 doors and drawer-fronts :-(

I have tried a couple of inconspicuous test spots and it looks like the frames could be sanded in a couple of days. Stripper would be my fallback. The surface area is not that large, it's completely flat (with the doors off) and the old finish seems to come off pretty easily.
However, sanding the doors down to bare wood looks like it will take more like a couple of weeks. Using stripper wouldn't be much more pleasant. Hence, the thought of trying a deglosser and slapping a new finish on top of the old.
I suspect the existing finish on the doors is different to that on the frames. The finish on the frames seems thinner and has shown dramtically more signs of wear and tear.

That option might require a Family Law attorney ;-)
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Malcolm Hoar wrote:

Drum/wide belt sander for the doors would be worlds faster. Cabinet shops have them if you don't.
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Yeah. Maybe I'll look at the possibility of getting the doors sanded and sprayed in the shop. Do the frames manually at home.
If I remove the door furniture and deliver the door to the shop myself and collect 'em when done, the cost may not be too prohibitive. It'll save a lot of tedious work and give a better result (assuming the shop is professional).
Thanks!
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Malcolm Hoar wrote:
Primary considerations:
How many doors and drawers? Flat, flush doors or panel and frame? End panels .. are you SURE they are veneer and not printed woodgrain? Don't ask why .... :o)
All loose finish should be removed. Water stains should be sanded to clear wood. I would not put satin over gloss .. no point at all (that I know of) in using the gloss unless you want the finish to be glossy. I like semi best.
Removing part of the old finish is an iffy task, IMO. Too hard to foresee how it will look recoated.
You can get the built-up grease with mineral spirits and fine steel wool, if needed. Toothpicks or whatever to get gunk out of crevices. Let it dry well or wipe quickly with denatured alcohol.
Don't use 3M on new finish - it is likely to stick if the finish is not completely cured.
For a project of considerable size, there isn't a whole lot of difference as to the amount of work or cleanup by choosing oil based finish vs. water base. I like Minwax fast drying poly, but used it on a smaller project. Satin has nice amount of gloss and flows on nicely.
With all of the work removing hardware and taking stuff down, it isn't that much more to strip the clear finish, sand lightly if water stains still show, and put on 2 or 3 coats of clear finish. Oak is a pretty deep brown without any stain .. I like it plain :o)
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33 doors and 10 drawers.

Panel and frame.

Yes, I am certain they are veneer.

The thinking is that the undercoats will be as clear as possible. The satin is only required on the top coat.

Good point.

There isn't too much hardware -- just the door hinges. Sanding and/or stripping will be most of the work.
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What worked for me was a good cleaning to get any grease off. Lightly sand with 220 grit. Put one coat of oil based poly. Lightly sand with 320 grit, second coat of poly. Done and looks great.
I think you are making more work than needed. Also, I don't understand the need to put a coat of gloss followed by sating.
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I think this will work for the doors. And it's fairly similar to my initial strategy. I was wondering about the "deglosser" as opposed to the cleaning and light sanding. The deglossers are *supposed* to achieve the same thing.
However, this isn't going to work on my frames. Too much old poly has flaked off.

I've seen several expect recommendations that one should always use gloss for all of the undercoats. Choose your top coat according to the finish you want (gloss, satin or whatever).
It means the undercoats are perfectly clear/transparent. The satin effect that one might consider desirable for the top coat is generally undesirable in the deeper layers of the finish (makes them slighly cloudy).
I've never actually tried this myself but those recommendations do seem to make sense to me.
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It probably does. I don' thave any experience with it, but I would have to assume it does some cleaning when applied.

If that is the case, sanding would be in order.

Makes sense. I recently re-finished an old dresser. On the top, I used gloss poly, sanding between coats. Let it cure for two weeks, then sanded with 600 grit wet. Then 4F pumice, then rottenstone. Each was done until my arm felt like going through puberty again. The surface was smooooooth. but dull. A good coat of wax brought ot to a nice lustre. Great for a pice of furniture, but a lot of work for all that youh ave to do.
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wrote:

This project is now (nearly) finished. In the end, I...
* Sanded the doors and frames to bare wood, finishing with 400 grit sandpaper. This was a shitty job! I did try using stripper but it really didn't save any time.
* I elected to not apply any stain.
* I finished with 4 coats of gloss oil-based poly with a light sanding between coats (combination of 400 grit sandpaper and 000 synthetic steel wool).
* Finally, I de-glossed with 0000 steel wool and a good quality wax. I was delighted with that effect although next time I might try synthetic steel wool to avoid the steel wire dust/wax gunk from accumulating in the corners of the moldings etc.
We're very pleased with the final result. Obviously we'll have to see how well it holds up over time but 4 coats of good quality oil-based poly should prove fairly durable.
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