HELP! poplar staining fiasco

Making the sister in law a coffe table based on one she saw at Crate and Barrel. It's dyed or stained a deep dark brown, almost black. I built mine from poplar, sanded, sealed with shellac and stained it with Minwax Jacobean. Disaster. Muddy tone and blotchy, despite the spit coat prep.
What do I do now? Is there some kind of film finish that I can put over the stain and that will still reveal grain? How about glaze or gel stain?
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You got "tulip poplar" or real poplar? Real poplar has interlocked grain, so there's never a consistent pattern of stain absorption. On the other hand, if you put a clear finish over the existing stain, you'll get some lovely pattern.
If not, use something in the stain/varnish line to even the color, though you'll lose the pattern.

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I would if you have done so remove finish coat meaning shellac, laq, or whatever if its on there. Then you have two choices 1.) Resand to bare wood or as close as possible. Then coat with a wood conditioner and apply a pigmented base stain such as those available from Old Masters, allow to dry only slightly and wipe with a soft cloth lightly. Recoat again and wipe. Continue until desired color or chroma is obtained. 2.) If you do not want to resand to bare wood then sand down blotchy areas and apply stain conditioner on wood, and apply a pigmented stain as mentioned above. Use a clear non-yellow finish sealer.
Good Luck!

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HEY! We have something almost in common. I'm trying to match a table from Pier 1 that is deep dark brown almost black.
I found that 1 coat of minwax mahogany oil stain left on to dry (dont wipe off) and 4 coats of miniwax bombay mahogany polyshade will get a deep dark wood with suttle red highlights. The polyshade lets you get deep dark colors and the prestain+polyshade combo gets rid of any blotching and adds depth.
If you don't want the red highlights you can use walnut polyshade.
Sam

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(JP) wrote:

Tom, was sealing it with shellac part of the problem? I've always heard that for ultra-dark colors you need to treat the raw wood. -- Ernie
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I just got though staining a batch or poplar last night to match mahogany. Raw wood, used a mixture of 1unit oil based stain to 2 units of mineral spirits. Allow the stain to soak into the wood for several min. and then drain off excess (or wipe off for larger items) allow to set for several min and then wipe dry. I have sprayed this on to large items and wiped off with great success.

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