major finishing "oops"; any suggestions?

Hi,
I have a chest-on-chest project about half done (the casework is mostly done; need to do drawers yet), and managed to spill a wipe-on-poly finish on the side of the upper case before I've put any finish on it. The spill was for another project I was working on in parallel (a book case for SWMBO); that will teach me to try to do two things at the same time.
The sides of the cases are cherry plywood, with a cherry face frame. I tried to soak a rag in mineral spirits and wipe it off; looks like I got most of it, but you can still tell where it spilled.
I will be sanding it, and right now the plan is to finish it with Watco's Natural followed by a shellac topcoat. Should I try to do any more with cleaning it with mineral spirits (or something else), or just hope it comes off with sanding?
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I would suspect that the wood has been sealed by the poly and it will really show up if you put anything other than the same poly on the rest of the peice. I doubt you can sand deep enough on plywood to get it out.
I would consider replacing that side completly. Depending on the location of the splill if you can't replace the whole side, you might be able to get creative and cut out and scab in a filler piece and maybe add some applied molding or other detail to hide the new joint, Then just match the detail on the other side.
Or, maybe veneer over the side with 1/8" ply or a real veneer job.
It might seem drastic but I think this might save the day, other than that you might be totaly unsatisfied with the look.
Another possibility is to use a toned finished to help blend out the difference but this ain't easy.
Maybe try a test on a scrp piece, spill some poly, wipe it up in the same manner and I'll bet you'll see you have some trouble.
Just to empathizes, I had a project half finsihed with a custom mixed orange and amber shellac when I literally stepped in the bucket, knocked it over, and finished the piece by sopping up brush fulls from the floor and picking out the nibs as best I could. We all F%^&*k up now and then.
Tom wrote:

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SonomaProducts.com wrote:

I personally couldn't agree more with all of the above. Really fine finishing leaves little room for error, and a big spill of poly sure would surely constitute a disaster. I would much rather face building a new side or covering it in some way rather than to look at it a couple of months down the road and think.... "man that looks like crap.... what was I thinking?"
Take it one more step. When the finishes begin to amber, the resins that soaked into the wood, including the ones you helped by washing it with thinner (sorry, just a comment not a criticism) your finishes will turn probably turn different colors of amber as you will have untainted wood with ONLY the finish of your choice, then you will have the side with the poly spill on it as a substrate. My guess is that you will see the spill better as the years go on.
Robert
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If it were mine I'd rub the spilled area with acetone and 0000 steel wool until it's no longer on the surface. (however it'll still be penetrated in the surface). Then I'd take the same wipe on poly and thin it 10-20% and go over the entire project thereby creating a sealer coat. (it might even take two coats to make it look even).
Since your end goal is natural then I'd just pick the shellac topcoat you want and finish it with several coats.
If your goal is more color then spike the shellac or wipe on poly sealer coat with a little Transtint dye.
Experiment on scrap until you get the process you want. I have a feeling it'll turn out looking good.
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