My stain is uneven


Hi,
I'm attempting to refinish a crappy old desk. This is my first refinishing project and I hope it'll be good practice.
I've stripped it and sanded it and now I stained it (according to manufacturer's instructions).
And the result can be seen here:
http://i.math.drexel.edu/~pg/board.jpg
You might be able to tell that it is very uneven and somewhat blotchy.
What am I doing wrong and can it be fixed at this point?
Very many thanks in advance!
Aaron Fude
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What are you using for stain? How are you applying it? How long are you leaving it on before wiping it down or are you wiping it down?
Forgive my eyes, but I can't make out the wood type.
Pete
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Try using a pre-stain wood conditioner.
--
Stoutman
http://www.garagewoodworks.com
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Maybe the picture is bad on my screen, but from what I could make out. it looked like there were cross grain scratches and cross grain sanding. And forget the manufacturer's instructions when re-finishing. Mostly they are for new wood. You'll learn, as you go, when you refinish, make sure you sand out all the scratches. They will trap stain and be darker than the rest. Best to just dab a little on a rag and make light swipes until you get like you want it. Avoid the deep scratches and Q-tip them lightly to match up after you get the rest even.

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Is this the same group that faked World War ll?
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For what its worth, when I refinish, I use chemical stripper and if I sand at all, its lightly to remove any fuzz raised by the stripper. This will preserve a lot of the original color/patina of the wood. When the wood dries it looks very light which is why most run to the stain can. Wet the wood with mineral spirits first to see what it will look like with a finish. In most cases you won't find it necessary to stain unless you are trying to match an existing piece or the component wood is terribly mismatched which creates a staining challenge in itself.
Certain woods do not take stain evenly (cherry, pine, soft maple) resulting in the blotching you experienced. As suggested, a stain conditioner will help as it pre-saturates the wood with the stain carrier (linseed oil or whatever) and partially seals it resulting in a more even take up of the stain when applied. An alternative approach is to use gel stains which are formulated to stay mostly on the surface resulting in less blotching.
As for fixing your existing problem, I think your best bet is to go darker and try to even it out with a gel stain unless you want to try your hand at shading laquers.
I'd like to find the person who started the urban myth that aggressive sanding is a necessary step in removing an old finish. Probably the same one that started the myth that staining is a mandatory step in finishing.

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Thank you, Max, for your response. All good stuff.
A far as light sanding, I found that my chemical stripper left a dirty surface behind and I needed to sand quite a bit (with a 60 grit) before I say prestine wood. May be it doesn't need to be prestine? Or may be I'm refinishing a piece of junk? Or did I underuse the stripper?
Thank you very much again to everyone who responded.
Aaron Fude
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My guess is you needed more stripper as in second coat (really depends on the stripper and old finish). Its also important to rinse off the stripper before it drys with what ever the stripper recommends. I find mineral spirits usually works. That should leave a fairly clean surface if all the old finish has been scraped/rinsed off. 60 grit is awfully aggressive. When I said lightly sand I was thinking 180/220 grit. Sounds like you still had a lot of goop left on the wood if you had to go after it with 60 grit. However, don't be dissuaded, some of the best woodworkers are self-taught and nothing teaches better than mistakes.

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