Oops! Finishing disaster!

My first refinishing project... and it's shows!
I've been working on refinishing an old dresser. Stripped and sanded down to bare wood - that went fine. Applied a new stain (Varathane Gel Stain which is oil-based) - came out great. I then went on to finishing. I applied the first coat of Varathane Glossy Finish (again, it's oil-based and I thinned with 10% mineral spirits). Application went on nicely if I do say so myself!
THEN my troubles began...
As I understand it, I am supposed to sand between each coat of Varathane -- which I did using 320 grit paper.
That's when I screwed things up...
PROBLEM #1:
While sanding some of the detailed areas around the edge of the dresser(these areas are like detailed molding with lots of edges and grooves), I used more force than I realized and managed to sand right through the poly taking some of the stain off too. Now I have bare wood staring back at me in a number of spots particularly along any of the raised edges. This would be fine if I was going for that 'destressed look' but I'm not.
What is the best approach to fixing this? Can I restain the bare spots using the gel stain without having to restrip the whole area? Alternatively, could I use a colored pencil (those used to hide blemishes and scratches on wood surfaces) to color over the bare spots (they are relatively thin lines rather than rubbed out circular areas).
PROBLEM #2:
For some dumb reason, after sanding I decided the best way to get rid of the fine white powder dust was to wipe the whole piece down with a damp cloth (it was not wet - just slightly damp). Well, I work fast so it wasn't until I'd wiped down the entire dresser with this damp cloth that I noticed it had turned the finish milky/cloudy.
Did I just ruin the whole thing? Will this cloudy appearance clear up on it's own? If not, can it be fix? If so, please provide details.
Well, I'm hoping some kindhearted woodworking guru out there could offer up some friendly advice to 'save the day'. I'm so upset that in a matter of minutes I'd managed to destroy a week's work!
Thanks in advance for any assistance.
Cheers. S.
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On 5 Sep 2003 00:38:55 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Pixie007) pixelated:

Don't sand, just denib.
Flat Area Test: run your hand over the finished surface. Feel any rough spots? Dem's de nibs. Take a hard block and a piece of fine sandpaper and run it once or twice over them. Feel again. If they're gone, you're done "sanding".
Curved areas can be denibbed with a piece of scotchbrite. Again, don't push very hard and don't rub back-and-forth. Just rub once or twice and feel again. When it's smooth, you're done. If there is a problem area in a small curve, use a wooden stick to knock it down. What you're trying to do is knock the peaks off the wood fibers and rub the dust and other orange peel off the surface to make it flat. Wipe it with a dry, dust-free cloth after that. If you're after a really shiny surface, you can get anal and make (or buy) your own cheesecloth tack rags. I prefer matte finishes (which don't highlight minor flaws) and don't care about the little stuff which might show up in a super glossy finish.

(The first screwup was using stain but I won't mention that.)

Since you got water in it afterwards, just strip and redo the whole thing. It's not the cheapest, but it's the quickest, easiest, and most safe method.
Make sure you let it dry and/or neutralize the stripper after doing this because you don't want to have any other bad stuff happening to the next finish. Make sure each coat is VERY dry before denibbing, cleaning, and putting on the subsequent coat.
G'luck!
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Just a quick not to say thanks to all who took the time to post. I had to get started early this morning - before any responses had been posted, but managed to resolve both issues.
The first, the cloudy/milky appearance, disappeared on its own. Guess it managed to dry out okay overnight (Whew!)
As for the over sanded areas. I wasn't sure if I could use stain to fix, so I talked to a guy at the hardware shop who suggested I try a touch-up felt marker. It did the trick beautifully. Had to work quick to avoid leaving any marker strokes, but the color happend to match perfectly so I was able to restore the trouble spots to a consistant color.
So.. I'm well on my way again to finishing off this d#$%m thing!
Thanks again!!
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Larry Jaques wrote:

Was it really? My first project, the start of the whole life as a tool user deal, was a dresser. Someone talked my girlfriend into buying this hideous thing because I told her, looking at a different, much less hideous dresser, that I could put some new knobs on it and fix it up. "So you like to refinish furniture do you?" Well, uh, I, uh...
Someone had painted it white, and someone else had done a really bad job attempting to strip it. By the time I got done with it, I was down to bare wood, but the wood was very much bleached out. It would have looked really bad if I had just finished it straight up, so I STAINED it. Yes, I STAINED it. I used STAIN on the wood to change the color, and this STAIN made it look purtiful.
No idea what the wood was, or what color it was supposed to be, but it's walnut colored now. Except for the big spot on top where someone let an allen wrench rust, it looks rather nice if I do say so myself.
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
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On Sat, 06 Sep 2003 20:46:44 -0400, Silvan

Your first screwup was letting her talk you into it.

You misspelled "pitiful" there, Mikey.

Ah, it matches the K-mart furniture, does it? ;)
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That's not a misspell. It's her description morphed into his opinion. Sounds quite descriptive to me.
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wrote:

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