I'd like your advice on a refinishing project I am working on

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I put up a post on this problem back in early November but I am still stuck so I thought I would try again.
10 years ago I made a dresser out of red oak, applied golden oak stain, and finished with poly to match some existing furniture. That furniture has been replaced with some purchased cherry furniture with a rather dark stain on it. Now my second oak dresser sticks out like a sore thumb.
I made up a sample board finished the same way as the dresser. I cleaned it with TSP, roughed up the poly with 180 grit paper, and applied two different kinds of gel stain to the sample. The gel stains made very minor changes to the color. I will of course apply more coats of the gel stain to see if I can get closer but I want to make up a second board to try a different path (dye) in parallel as I don't have infinite time to get this job done. On my second sample, if I rough up the poly, and put on a coat of shellac, can I go for a stain that will match the new cherry furniture right off or do I need to be conscious of the light buttery brown underneath and try to figure out a stain that will combine (a la a color wheel) with the buttery brown to give me the dark cherry finish I am trying to "match". I put match in quotes as I will never match it exactly and of course the oak grain will be very obviously different than the cherry but the second dresser is not right next to the other furniture so a kinda sorta match would be great.
Your advice on this second posting of my problem would be greatly appreciated as always.
TIA.
Dick Snyder
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The basic problem here is that stain or dye over a film finish is not really going to work very well. The best hope for that was gel stain and even then you should sort of leave a thick film behind and let the poly in the gel harden to hold the color in place.
I would suggest using Minwax Polyshades. This is poly with dye in it. The basic technique to match an existing tone is to get something of the right shade and apply multiple thin coats until it gets dark enough to match.
Also, you could do your own toning using poly or shellac or lacquer and adding your own dye, transtint liquid works fine like this. But I would assume some polyshade color should be close. Just pick a color that seems like it would be close if you added a bit of orange\buttery brown, to account for the underlying existing tone.
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But practice, practice, practice with the Poly-shades. Like most things Norm did, it is not as simple as it looks. Play with it and see what works for you for putting on an even coat.
Deb
SonomaProducts.com wrote:

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Amen sister. Polyshades is very unforgiving of overlap for instance. Even with a wet edge if you overlap much that section gets darker.
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Why take a chance on learning new techniques, new methodology, etc.?
Stripping isn't all that hard. Strip it, sand it, and you will be back on familiar ground with raw wood just like you started with. Experiment until you get your color, then seal it up.
I have tried just about every type of color matching for stained finishes possible over the years and nothing has ever worked as well as stripping. With care on your surface prep you are starting with a clean slate. Tough to be that!
Robert
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On 1/6/2011 12:13 AM, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Far better advice than trying to use that Polyshades crap. Chances are good that after trying to "fix it up" with Polyshades you'd be breaking out the stripper anyway...
--
See Nad. See Nad go. Go Nad!
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Not sure why people have such hate towards polyshades and minwax in general. It isn't ever my first choice but if you are trying to save the hassle of totally stripping a piece and you have any talent at finishing at all you can get great results. I suspect they are usually blaming their incompetance on the product.
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On 1/6/2011 12:57 PM, SonomaProducts.com wrote:

Are you calling me incompetent? I may not be as accomplished as Robert, but I've been doing hobbyist finishing on cars and boats and furniture and pretty much everything else for over 30 years, so I ain't no newbie. I can get acceptable results from Polyshades if I'm forced to, but I certainly have enough experience to know that I wouldn't recommend it in the general sense, particularly to beginners, and particularly when there are so many other products and methods that yield better results with far less hassle and margin for error. 95% of the discussions I've seen from others regarding Polyshades backs my own experience, and many of those people have far more experience than I do. You must be very experienced indeed if you assume that the average Joe can use that stuff without wishing they hadn't...
--
See Nad. See Nad go. Go Nad!
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In spewed forth:

Not to mention that in 35 years I've NEVER known a Professional finisher to buy anything minwax, let alone at HD
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1. Well professional finishers do toning all the time with dye in poly, ie the exact same thing as polyshades. 2. I've been paid to do finishing. I use Minwax products when they make sense. I by at Home Depot. 3. This is 'rec.' woodworking, as in recreational. So my advise was to a hobbiest not a professional. Also, given the facts that he had a finished piece and was trying to change it's color with stain as opposed to stripping\sanding it and I gave him a totally viable approach.
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In spewed forth:

True, but most finishers that I know still use lacquers. I guess it's just what you're use to using. I think most people are afraid of lacquers because they have never used them. Personally I find them the easiest to use and the most forgiving jmo

Again, I gues it's what ever you're used to using. I've never used any Minwax products and only buy spray enamel at HD. Lacquers and toners I buy ftom Mohawk or my local Ace that carries them

Even a hobbiest can raise the bar<g>
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Yup, usually done with lacquer. Yup, lacquer is the best. Getting harder and harder to get for the non-pro but really the best to work with. Plus the solvent gives you a better high than most drugs.
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In spewed forth:

love the smell of lacquer in the mornin'<g>
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Plus, it feels soooo good when you sit on a lacquer soaked rag, long enough it to soak through to your butt cheeks.
DON'T ask me how I know that!
--
Jim in NC


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I don't know you or your skill so I really don't know if you are competent or not. I was generalizing that anyone complaining so bitterly about hating a product line, that I have found to work fine, is maybe incompetent and just taking it out on the product. That would of course esentially qualify as me calling you incompetent, which is rude on my part and I aploogize.
Regarding the early statement about stripping being a far superior approach, in terms of outcome that is likely true but in terms of how much work to get to a reasonable result, polyshades would be a faster way to get there, given the original question.
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wrote:

I was gonna snip that a bit, but then I realized I agreed with all of it.
Two things of an important note to add, though:
1) A professional rarely brushes clear seal finishes. I don't, and certainly don't know of another professional that brushes toned finishes. Unless Dick is going to spray, Minwax PS wouldn't be a good choice. I was careful in reading the tone of his post, and remember his post on this from before. If I am reading this right, he isn't ready to learn a brand new way of finishing by learning on a couple of new pieces before tackling his house furniture.
I have the strongest suspicion that Dick wants to get this over and done with as quickly as possible. Nothing wrong with that! So by getting him back to familiar ground he can take it from there based on his own experience.
2) No one I know that has any background in refinishing would ever put a new finish over polyurethane. The toughest of the plastic resins, polyurethane is made specifically to resist adhesion, penetration and abrasion by foreign materials. That's why it make a great table top or hard use finish. That is also why it is important to get off before attempting something like a color match. It it made to resist all manner of wear, and simply scuffing about with a piece of sand paper only marginally (if at all) increase adhesion.
Unless you understand that you are simply going to "lay" color on it, then seal it up by "laying" another coat of something on top of the urethane resin film, you are going the wrong way. To be exact, it is like painting plastic.
And remember Steve, one man's ceiling is another man's floor. I see that all the time in finishing work.
Kinda risky to make comments about another's work sight unseen, though.
Robert
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In

what he said<g>
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Some people have trouble with a lot of things...
walking posting humanely acting intelligent

Not sure why people have such hate towards polyshades and minwax in general. It isn't ever my first choice but if you are trying to save the hassle of totally stripping a piece and you have any talent at finishing at all you can get great results. I suspect they are usually blaming their incompetance on the product.
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You are probably right. What do you like to use for stripping?
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If I go to the paint store to buy stripper, I look for BIX products. Their "Original" formula will work great on one or two coats of finish and is pretty safe around veneers.
If the subject has more than one coat, or thick coats of finish, I use the BIX "Tuff Job" or something like that. It has "Tough" or "Tuff" on the can. The Tuff grade has a nice feature and that is that I find it to be more of a gel, so it stays on vertical surfaces a little easier. In this colder weather, that shouldn't be an issue, though.
I have never had any luck with the soy or organic strippers, nor do I know anyone that has. I tried it, it didn't work, I won't waste my time on that again.
Like finishing (in my opinion) people make too much out of stripping. Search around here on this forum and there is good info on the processes and procedures including observation of mandatory safety issues to respect.
A couple of highlights. If you are going to strip in this colder weather, make sure you allow plenty of time for the stripper to do its work. They are tested in a laboratory where the temps are a controlled 70 something. If your shop/garage is 50 - 60 something, allow a lot more time.
Apply the stripper in even coats, don't just slather it on. The thicker the stripper, the more bite it will have, and you will get streaking and highlights (and dark streaks and lowlights). When you take the time to put the stripper on in even, thick coats it will pay off in a big way.
Allowing more time due to temp (really high or really low) will make it easy for the stripper to dry up. No problem. Buy those drop cloths that are the same thickness of a dry cleaning bag and cover the piece immediately after coating with stripper. Lay the plastic right on top of your goo, and buy a couple of packages of those drop cloths in case you have to strip twice. Cover it in a way that allows you to pick up a corner and check to see how well it is working.
Don't be afraid to strip twice. This is something that is often overlooked, but it gives you a great shot to getting ALL the old finish and stains off. After you have stripped off the finish, wash it off the surfaces with some cheap lacquer thinner. Sand until you find your surface smooth and clean, then wipe down one more time with the lacquer thinner.
You should be in familiar territory after that.
Let us know how it worked out!
Robert
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