Question about varnishing hard wood

Hello all,
I've been varnishing an old oak cabinet that we've had for years. I started out from scratch by sanding off all the old grunge back to the bare wood. I've applied several coats of varnish and it gives the appearance that the varnish is not evenly applied. That is, the darker grain seems to repel the varnish, whereas the lighter areas have taken the varnish no problem. To the touch, it feels as if the varnish layers consists of a series of tiny hills and troughs, instead of being evenly smooth.
Should I have used some kind of primer or preparation before starting? Can I use it now, or do I have to restart from the bare wood.
Many thanks, Paul
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Paul Moore wrote in message ...

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If we're talking polyurethane varnish, it sands well so I'd flatten it with a 180 grit on an orbital sander and then by hand with a fine paper. Lastly, wipe a *thin* coat of varnish on with a rag. It sounds like you've simply put too much on and not rubbed down between coats.
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started
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hills
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I've had this effect recently with old oak, which I think (from its colour) was American red oak, and while using acrillic varnish. The varnish seemed to raise the open grain much more than the closed grain in between. I wonder whether you rubbed down between coats?
When you get this effect it seems to help if you rub down between each coat, rather than just after the first. Additionally you may need more coats than usual, having sealed the open grain with the first two or three....
Charles F
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You must rub down with a fine sandpaper between coats (no coarser than 150 grit). I tend to run down the first coat and the penultimate coat using an orbital, which I find tends to leave less marks than other methods. I usually put on a very thick first coat and rely on the sander to flatten off the high bits.
Christian.
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With real wood such as OAK you get a far superior finish with oil,s such as Danish Oil. Strip off and oil if you can bear it!
EC
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ERIC___ snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Eric Cartman) wrote in

Can't say I'm convinced about Danish oil. I tried it on my kitchen window sills (cills? internal widow boards? and it was very dark, althogh the colour of the oil was light. I wanted it to pick up the colur of my light oak floor.
I'm at present plucking up courage to use matt polyurethane
Mike R
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The effect will depend on the wood. Danish oil does not appreciably darken pine for eg. With all finishes it is advisable to test a portion first for the desired effect.

Yuck. If you want a matt finish why not wax it?
Peter
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Because being kitchen windowsills they're bound to be abused by stuff being put on them detergent bottles, etc, which may mark them.
Or is wax proof against that - and is there a sort of initial applicatin wax as against lokking after it wax?
If so I'll give it a try
mike r
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No, you will have to look after it. Mind you when the matt poly starts looking bad you will have more work to do to renew it as a finish. Have you thought about using a tougher varnish and matting it down once its dried?
Peter
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wrote:

being
There are often discussions about wipe-on poly finishes in rec.woodworking. They could offer a finer, flatter finish with the durablilty of poly varnishes.
Can't find such a product in Axminster catalogue - are they available in the UK? Has anyone here used one with success or otherwise?
cheers Richard
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email me at richard at olifant d-ot co do-t uk
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The Colron range of woodfinishes are I think closest to the US product. I have used them quite a lot and they seem quite durable. I often overcoat them with wax because I like the sheen and feel of it. One problem with wipe ons is getting into corners, Axminster's foam brushes might be the answer to this, though I haven't yet tried them.
I have however applied satin poly with a rag and it seems to work very well, though you lose a lot in the rag.
Peter
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (JohnMBrebner) wrote:

that helps, but only reduces the sanding between coats rather than eliminating it and won't solve the problem of the open grain in oak.
Peter
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Thanks Lads,
Indeed, I only sanded the varnished surface after the first coat.
Paul
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