Steps for refinishing dresser

All,
I'd be grateful for some input. I've read around a bit and want to clarify a few things.
I picked up a gorgeous oak & maple dresser with a hideous white paint job. I've stripped it completely (some white paint remains in some deep grain on the top) and have sanded it fairly heavily (it had a lot of dings & stains, etc).
I'm a bit confused about the need for and the differences between `grain filler,' 'sanding sealer,' etc. I'm also not sure in what order to proceed.
Does one, after sanding, use a sealer, then a filler, then a stain? Is the filler even necessary?
Also, as I mentioned above, there is some white paint that I can not remove. I've tried steel wool, I've even tried toothpicks. Will a grain filler hide that white paint? Should I just keep sanding? The top (the only place with the white paint left over) is a thick solid piece of oak, so I definitely have the material to keep sanding.
Thank you, D. Hill.
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Get yourself a copy of Bob Flexnor's "Understanding Wood Finishing". It's worth buying.
Get yourself some oak and maple and slice it into foot long pieces. Home Depot S4S One by Fo will do for this, about six feet.
Try different finishes and see what you like.
To my eye, pores are part of the look of a wood, so I leave them. Last years SWMBO project was a red oak coffee table. Sanded to 180 and coated with a 1lb cut of orange shellac, followed by two coats of 1lb cut clear shellac.
This year's is an armoire out of cherry veneer, just a layer of Watco.
Try it and see what you like.
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Oak *and* maple, huh?
Got an image of this piece that you could post to your webspace, and give us the URL?
Kris
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Kris Baker wrote:

Kris,
Let me clarify. The vast majority of the piece is oak. The drawer sides are maple, with dovetail construction. If I can get a picture, I'll let you know the url.
Thanks, Dave.
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Good. I was picturing something like what my husband had brought home a few years ago, which turned out to be "painted white...oak and maple" (with the top being maple and the rest being oak). Flashbacks can be painful ;)
Kris
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Some have reported success in getting small paint spots out of pores like oak has by coating with shellac then repeating the stripping step. Seems the shellac "surrounds" the paint allowing the stripper to lift it out. No first hand experience. Maybe www.refinishwizard.com has something in archive to help.
On Tue, 15 Feb 2005 19:58:27 GMT, "Kris Baker"

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The people around these parts are likely tired of hearing me harp on this, but, it is difficult to give advice without seeing the piece. In this case, you have already stripped off the white paint, be it good or bad. I would assume you used the same method most do, by pouring the goopy stuff all over and scraping it off. By doing this, there is likely little more you could do to the piece that would harm it more. However, the advice of how to proceed depends greatly on where you want end up, and where the piece should end up. A photo of the piece helps, however you should get someone to look at it if it is at all old. It would be all too easy to recommend aggressive mechanical means, only later to find the paint was sticking to some important architectural feature or landmark on the piece.
Generally speaking, in my world the following rules work well:
1. It is always easier to add effort than to take it away. 2. It is easier to darken something than lighten it. 3. Age and patina on a piece that gives it value is really dirt and grime. Do you really want to clean it? 4. Paint has been around a very long time. How old is this paint you want to take off? 5. When in doubt, have it checked out.
Paint finishes make me uncomfortable. Pine and some oak furniture from the mid 1800's was finished with an opaque finish most call "paint". Earlier pieces were painted inside. This original paint is often mistaken for some recoat from the 60's or 70's. I have had the unpleasant experience of telling someone the red paint they stripped off a pine linen press was likely worth more than the piece itself. Refinishers will not charge a great deal to look at your piece; please get this done before stripping away with the goopy stuff...

C.
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Thanks for the helpful reply. I am not a refinishing professional, as I imagine that many people on this ng are, so I guess my comments came off as hugely uninformed. The piece is shaker style, with two side-by-side drawers sitting above two full length drawers. Keylocks on all 4 drawers.
There were three coats of paint. White overlying blue overlying bright red. Patriotic previous owners, I guess. Plus, lots of candle wax.
My intention when I got this piece was not to preserve an antique; I'm not competent to judge its age / value / worth. My intent was simply to do a good job getting the paint off and putting a nice clear finish on.
Thanks again for the insightful suggestions, they are appreciated.
D.

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If it truly is "gorgeous" and has any age, the heavy sanding will have reduced its value, possibly by half.
The nicks, dings and surface below the paint are part of the patina that is irreplaceable.
However, continued local application of paint stripper, allowing the "gunk" or whatever you use, to soak in, followed by a careful probe into the grain with a fine needle, followed by a rinse with white spirit and a rub with fine wire wool is the best treatment. Any that resists all of your efforts should be left as honourable scars and a reminder on the history of the piece.
Refinishing is a matter of taste. A stain (at least one shade lighter than you hope to end up) followed by an application of a good hard-wax furniture polish with loads of elbow grease should leave the grain visible and an overall pleasant appearance. Since you are down to bare wood, I suggest several applications applied with fine wire wool rather than a cloth. That should be sufficient to fill the grain.
Oxalic acid (poisonous - handle with care in a ventilated space and use gloves) is good for removing stains (it does bleach the wood). It is pretty powerful and dries to a white powder - to stop the action, wash off with white vinegar.
There are lots of books on antiques restoration - and advice on the Internet.
Sadly I feel you may just end up with a "new" piece, albeit made from "second-hand" timber.
--
Roy Dennis
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