Finishing Red Oak


I have red oak veneer cabinets in my kitchen that seem to have been colored with a yellow stain. The result is a light color with pink and gray woodgrain thats really quite nice. We just put in a new oven and need to make some trim around the cutout (its a bit smaller than the previous oven). I can get solid red oak from home depot, but I'm not sure about the steps to finish it (sanding, etc). I've found a stain that I think will allow me to match the color, but I'm uncertain of the steps to get a nice, smooth durable finish. Any help would be appreciated.
Stacy
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I have a house full of red oak. The first step is matching the color. Try on some scrap until you are happy. Be sure to top coat it before you compare. Fast dry poly in a spray can is handy for this. I like polyurethane for the top coat. Apply the first coat, let it dry and lightly sand it to get all the bubbles out then apply another coat. If the wood was sealed the first time this shouldn't bubble up on you again. I usually put on several coats, lightly sanding between, to get a durable finish. You can thin the poly with mineral spirits to help it go on smoother but you will need more coats to get the same thickness
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I'm not sure that helps. I need to color the grain; do I sand first? what grit? What are the steps to get from bare red oak to a finished piece? Sand - stain/color - sand - poly?
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Sand the bare wood in three or more passes. I start with 80 grit, then 120 grit, and then with 220 grit. I have sanded with 320 grit as well. This sanding should leave the wood very smooth. Next, apply the stain. You need to experiment to find the right color. Matching old stain can be very difficult. Lightly sand with 220 grit (or finer) sandpaper after the stain is dry. Apply the top coat in several coats. Lightly sand between coats with 320 grit sand paper or 0000 steel wool. Lightly apply 0000 steel wool after the last coat. Jim
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A couple of additional points to consider.
(1) The higher grit sandpaper you use, the less stain soaks in. That's because there's less exposed grain for the stain to seep into. I usually sand raw wood only to 180 - except the end grain (if that's going to show) which I sand to 320. If you find that the stained color is close but not deep enough, you can always try applying a second coat of stain. Realize that the second coat will soak up less than the first coat too.
(2) I also don't sand between the stain and first coat. Too much risk that I'll sand through the stain someplace. If you want to sand here (because the stain really raised the grain), go easy using with a 320 sandpaper.
I completely agree about using 320 between each coat of seal and go with 3 coats of seal. You'll end up with a really smooth surface - almost certainly smoother than your current cabinets! Doing anything after the final coat is up to your judgement. If the final coat feels smooth to the bare hand, don't worry about it - especially for cabinet type of work.
My major concern would be ending up with something that looks right color wise but is finished much nicer than the rest of your cabinets - which might make it stand out. If that's the case and you want to try again, sand back down to the raw wood stopping at 150 and only apply 2 coats of seal - that's probably about as much as the original cabinets got!
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jon has it right. Please do not sand the stain before a top coat is applied. You'll probably be sorry. Good Luck
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Lee wrote:

right. don't sand STAIN, but you can carefully sand DYED wood. I do it all the time
Dave
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<snip>
After thinking about my post for a few hours, you correct. I don't sand the stain. Actually, I just lightly touch the surface with whatever (most of the time it is steel wool). I have never used water based poly thus I have no experience to transmit. Jim
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On 9 Dec 2005 11:04:47 -0800, " snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com"

You are right, I'm sorry I didn't say that. You want soft paper for those between coats sandings.
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Steel wool is fine if you're using oil based topcoats but isn't fine with waterbased topcoats.

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Are you sure it's stained? Red oak ages to a medium gold color. See this photo, which is red oak with only poly, no stain:
http://www.delorie.com/wood/projects/tables/dining0001.png
Red oak freshly cut is a pinkish color. With one exception, all the red oak furniture in my house is finished with poly and time, no stain.
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yes I'm sure.
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