Finishing Table

I had never made a table before but was pretty good with picture frames, having made many for my wife of the past 40 years. (She is an artist painting on canvas with acrylics). I have made the frames with the equivalent of Lowes's "white" wood. We have stained and varnished hundreds of these frames over the years. She uses Minwax oil base polyurethane stain, Minwax oil based polyurethane varnish, and cleans up with mineral spirits.
I decided to make a table the same way I make picture frames. I used the same premium "white" wood from Loews that I use for frames. I made the table top by gluing together 1X2 and 1X4 material I made the legs out of 1X2 and a ripped a 1X2 to make the "L" shaped legs square.
Everything was looking good until we started to finish the top. My wife used the same stain she has used on the frames, put three coats on the top. After the third coat dried there were white spots. When she tried to clean it off with mineral spirits, everywhere the mineral spirit touch it appeared to leach white material from the wood along the grain.
We sanded it off, restained, and then varnished. Almost 24 hours after the second coat of varnish dried, the white material reappeared, again on the grain. NOTE: while the white material appeared to be on the hard edges of the gain I have no proof that is what caused it.
Could someone give me ideas on where to go from here, without giving up and painting the table.
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On 8/25/2015 9:33 PM, Mike Marlow wrote:

associated with the glue joints, but seems to be associated to the hard part of the grain
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replying to Keith Nuttle , Ternings wrote:

Sounds like the wood was not sealed? Sand it down (suggest starting with 80, damp rag, 100, damp rag, etc through 240) then use a good sanding sealer before applying the stain.
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On Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 8:53:06 PM UTC-5, keith snipped-for-privacy@sbcglobal.net wr ote:

Hello, Keith. Take anything you read after this sentence with a grain of s alt and remember what you paid for it. I do finishing as part of my work, so maybe this will be of some value.
Two things come to mind. First, the soft wood you are working with is usua lly spruce or fir. Depending on where you are in the country and what they got a deal on, Lowes will send hemlock, fir, spruce or pine to be sold as white wood. Sometimes those woods are a mystery known only to the actual l ogger.
No matter. That group of wood all finishes the same. So a couple of things to look for. I would CAREFULLY inspect the exact point on the wood where it isn't taking finish. Is it close to a knot? Can you see any wood figur e on that area after staining? Is it a bit rougher or a bit harder than th e surrounding wood? Those burly areas do not take stain well, nor do they hold it. You can put your stain down, have the top look fine, and then lif t it up off the wood (literally!) with an oil based finish if you apply it with a brush, pad or roller. A table top is a much larger project than a pi cture frame and the temptation to overwork the finish coat if just about ov erwhelming. You can literally brush on the finish, come back to smooth the material and brush off the stain if it didn't take. Been there done that way too many times myself.
Next, some runs of soft wood vary widely in the grain density even on the s ame piece of wood. This can cause blotchiness, and inconsistent stain colo r. I have personally stained pine that was so hard around knotty areas tha t it simply didn't take any stain at all.
The other possibility (after your examination to determine exactly where th e white spots are) is that the wood itself has been contaminated with somet hing. Remember, their "white wood" isn't considered furniture grade wood, and after the great pine craze of the 60s and 70s was over, no one really u sed it for table tops as it is considered too soft to be practical. So thes e woods don't get the best storage or shipping care, nor are they handled w ith care in the store.
I would try one more time to get it take, then I would paint. Strip it (no t just sand off the finish as you will leave contaminates behind when you s and) and wash the top well with cheap lacquer thinner. Let it dry, wash it again. Then apply a good wood conditioner to the soft wood to help it abs orb the color into the wood. Since you are on Minwax products, they make a dandy wood conditioner. Apply as directed.
Stain.
Finish.
Not satisfactory? The wood has a deeply absorbed contaminate that the solv ents in your finish are pulling up every time you apply a coat. The stain is just sitting on top of the wood, and has no penetration so your finish i s literally pulling it up.
If you don't like what you see when you do the above steps, sand well to 24 0gr, apply a coat of shellac, then a good oil based paint.
Robert
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On 8/25/2015 8:23 PM, Keith Nuttle wrote:

First read I missed the name of your product.
BUT as I read about your problem I thought to my self, it sounds like he is using a Minwax product.
What you are seeing is exactly why I DO NOT use Minwax stains.
It may very well be a problem with your wood but I don't have problems with other products like I do with Minwax.
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Keith Nuttle wrote:

I'm thinking that the solvent in the varnish lifted the stain and what you are seeing is unstained wood. The key is, "When she tried to clean it off with mineral spirits, everywhere the mineral spirit touch it appeared to leach white material from the wood along the grain."
"Stain" - oil stain - is pigment in BLO. It really doesn't penetrate very deeply, the color is mostly because of the pigment catching in the minute crevices of the wood; it isn't intended to sit on top of the wood; unabsorbed stain should be thoroughly wiped off and the stain completely dry before anything else - including more stain - is applied.
BLO takes a considerable time to dry...days, not hours.Three coats would take a week or more to dry. If it isn't dry, wiping it with thinner will lift it and show on whatever you are wiping with. Varnishing over it will do similar but the color will just dissipate into the varnish.
Sand it down again, restain and don't varnish for a week or two...when you can no longer smell the stain and/or when wiping with thinner doesn't lift color, THEN varnish. Do that and you should be successful. I assure you, it is what you are doing, nothing within the wood.
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