Kitchen Cabinets + Minwax Polyshades


I'm a total amateur when it comes to stains and woodworking. I redid the trim in a couple rooms and decided, "Hey, I can redo my 50 year old kitchen with some patience and a little elbow grease." I went down to the Home Depot, picked up some minwax polyshades, an orbital sander, a few brushes and got to work.
After taking the doors and drawers out and sanding them (first with 60 grit, then 150), I started applying the stain. I should note that the first thing i did was test the product against a sample piece of wood. I "painted" it on thick and let it dry. I liked the color, but it came out really thick & gloppy. I figured it was my technique so i googled on how to apply stains and learned about wiping (apply stain, wait 5-15 minutes, wipe off stain with paper towels). This is contradictory to the stain instructions (and a total pain if the stain starts to dry, and it dries quick), but i figured they made the instructions sound the easiest to help sell the can. I thought I was doing it the harder, but "right" way
Two coats of stain later I started thinking that maybe I should've researched the product a bit more (as in, at all). My coats are coming out uneven and it just doesn't "feel" right. I went on google now and came across a number of posts on this board telling me what crap the product is.
My question is, what do i do now? The product is starting to look a bit better with the second coat, but would i be better served using a different product to help me even out the staining? Or is it too late to do that? Should i just apply a couple more coats?
is the problem in my technique? Should i follow the instructions, apply a thin coat with a foam brush, and just let dry?
Also, when I'm done, should i apply a coat of clearcoat to protect it, or should i figure that the polyshades is enough?
What a pain. I wish i would've researched the product a bit more before.
I appreciate any help.
Cheers
snipped-for-privacy@theplatform.com
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No matter what you have purchased, or thought about purchasing, someone will always tell you it is crap. Sometimes they are right and sometimes they are wrong.

1. I've used the stuff on a small project - oak. 2. I went to 220 with inital sanding. 3. It likes a very light coat. 4. I 'sanded' between coats with a steel wool substitute. 5. The results were fine.
What are you doing *between* coats?

That's what the *poly* part is supposed to do. My experience is so recent, I have no ide how long it will do it.

That sometimes leads to analysis paralysis. Sometimes it's better just to get going. Even if you have problems, you learn.

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A quick rubbing with 000 grade steel wool.
The biggest problems i see are just unevenness in the color. Did you use a foam brush and not wipe off? I think I might try that next.
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Did you wipe off the polyshades? If so, that's a big part of the problem. Polyshades is not a stain, it is a toner. Toner is a top coat finish with color *in* the finish. Stain is made to be applied directly to raw wood. Toner colored finish that can be built either directly on the wood or over other coats of finish. Even application is the only way to get even color with a toner.
Try thinning the polyshades a bit. The lower viscosity will allow you to apply a less thick (avoiding the word "thinner" to avoid confusion) coat. Of course you will have to apply more coats, but any unevenness due to drips runs or poor technique will be less.
-Steve
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I did wipe off the polyshades. It just seemed so thick without wiping it.
Because I'm 1-2 coats into the project, I think my plan now is to apply a very thin coat of polyshades using a foam brush and just let it dry. Hopefully one more coat will do it. Afterwards, I'm going to apply a coat or two of clearcoat, "sanding" with steel wool between coats. Hopefully this will clear out the color inconsistencies and not require me to strip everything i've done so far. Seem reasonable?
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In my experience, I use stain then a clear coat. Never have had real good luck with stain and clear coat together.
My last project, a window shelf/curtain hanger, I stained and then used water based poly. Fantastic results.
Water based poly has come a long way since it was first introduced. I use a cheap foam brush to apply thin even coats, let dry sand with at least 220 and then reapply. Adding the coats of wax sounds like a very good idea as suggested previously, especially in a kitchen.
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I just went over most of it with a real thin coat of polyshades using a foam brush and it looks a lot better. I think i will finish everything that way.
Next question, how does the spray on poly work? is it worth it to use it?
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The spray-on poly works really well. It's more expensive to buy it in spray-cans than by the quart, but you can do nice thin coats without brush marks or drips. Just sand with a really fine grit in between coats.
If you haven't done your final coats of Polyshades yet, consider buying yourself a cheap air brush (I got one for $29 at HD or Lowes) or HVLP gun (Harbor Freight has one for $45 or so) that you can hook to your compressor, if you have one. A big chunk of that cost could be made up by the fact that you wouldn't have to buy the clear finish in spray-can form. The air-brush technique works really well with the polyshades because you are applying it very thinly, and you have a lot of control over how dark it goes on. When starting from scratch you can just apply it in thin even coats until you reach the desired color depth. In your case, you already have some areas that are darker than others. With the air brush, it's a lot easier to selectively coat the lighter areas, avoid the dark ones, and generally even up the color over all. There's a lot of overspray, though (not so much with the HVLP gun) so definitely make sure you have good ventilation and where a respirator. And don't do it in your garage right next to your vintage mustang ;-).
There's no need to do additional layers of clear finish unless you effectively have fewer than three coats of the Polyshades (keep in mind that you wiped most of it off on your initial coats).
By the way, it's not so important with oak, but for woods which tend to absorb stain very unevenly (pine, maple, etc.), results tend to be better when using a sprayed-on die or toner like Polyshades than with traditional wiped-on stain. The only real disadvantage is that a nick or scratch which removes the finish will show bare light wood underneath; with wipe-on stain the color penetrates fairly deep into the wood.
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I assume the polyshades is oil-based. Make sure you add a little thinner. The lower viscosity is what makes putting on a thin coat easy. Start with about 10% thinner and add a little more if it seems necessary.

Clear coat, in this case is the same thing as the top coat except withou a little color. You don't need it.

Yup.
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Forget the polyshades, get the stain color of your choice, stain, then top coat with a finish. If you want to use any solvent based poly, you MUST have adequate ventilation and wear a respirator.
R
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Snip

An improperly prepaired surface will make a stained finish look terrible. You need to go from 60 to 80 to 100 to 120 to 150 and skip no grits.
Snip
Ditch the Polyshades. IMHO only good for painting. Yeah I know, Polyshades is not a paint.
Try, a good brand first. May I suggest, General Finishes, Bartleys, Zar.
Also try a Gel stain. Wipe it on, IMMEDIATELY wipe it off.
Finish up with a varnish of your choice to protect the finish. Usually 3 or 4 coats.
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Tim, First, 'Kitchen' is the key word. This is an area that I feel *REQUIRES* a 'working finish' . . . as opposed to 'Fine Furniture' {to quote my wife !!}
I've used a number of products {Minwax among them} that the purists say are 'Crap'. A little experimentation, a little thought, and they are fine. It's just something else to have in your repertoire to suit different situations.
I DO agree {having learned that lesson a LONG time ago}that just laying it on like paint {or *uncolored* poly can result in unplanned results . . . especially with a dark Mahogany!! The good thing about this type of 'stain' is that it is basically a 'pigment' product. It doesn't go deep into the wood - as a DYE does. Therefore it is *relatively* easy to remove.
Anyhow, a} Sand well - 220 at least b}Brush, Tack cloth, Vacuum the dust away c}Brush on a thin EVEN coat . . . I use disposable foam brushes . . . the CHEAP ones. d}Let dry . . . WELL. The LIGHTLY sand with 320. {swipe with a wet finger to see the 'finished' color} e}If not as dark as required, give it another coat, dry, sand with 320. f} If color now to your liking . . . give it a thin, even coat of WATERBASED CLEAR Poly. {with the same type, or maybe a little better, foam brush}Let dry completely, then lightly sand with 400 g}Repeat the 'H2O' Poly at least 2 more times . . . sanding with 600 and Synthetic FINE wool {'3M Pad'}. h} As a final step . . apply a couple of well-buffed out coats of paste wax.
This is a similar schedule to finishing the brightwork on a sailboat. The H2O Poly is about the hardest & most impervious finish that is easy to apply. The wax will give a slick surface that will keep a lot of dirt, etc. from sticking and is simple to maintain.
This is how I did a Maple-topped kitchen cabinet for Joanne . . . about 5-years ago. No maintenance and it looks like the day I finished it.
Regards & Good Luck, Ron Magen Backyard Boatshop
----- Original Message -----
Newsgroups: rec.woodworking Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2006 03:44 Subject: Kitchen Cabinets + Minwax Polyshades

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A big color problem shows up around corners and trim, where the color seems to be much darker. Is there a trick to this? Am i just not rubbing it off well enough?
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