I have red oak veneer cabinets in my kitchen that seem to have been
colored with a yellow stain. The result is a light color with pink and
gray woodgrain thats really quite nice. We just put in a new oven and
need to make some trim around the cutout (its a bit smaller than the
previous oven). I can get solid red oak from home depot, but I'm not
sure about the steps to finish it (sanding, etc). I've found a stain
that I think will allow me to match the color, but I'm uncertain of the
steps to get a nice, smooth durable finish. Any help would be
I have a house full of red oak. The first step is matching the color.
Try on some scrap until you are happy. Be sure to top coat it before
you compare. Fast dry poly in a spray can is handy for this.
I like polyurethane for the top coat. Apply the first coat, let it dry
and lightly sand it to get all the bubbles out then apply another
coat. If the wood was sealed the first time this shouldn't bubble up
on you again. I usually put on several coats, lightly sanding between,
to get a durable finish. You can thin the poly with mineral spirits to
help it go on smoother but you will need more coats to get the same
Sand the bare wood in three or more passes. I start with 80 grit, then 120
grit, and then with 220 grit. I have sanded with 320 grit as well.
This sanding should leave the wood very smooth.
Next, apply the stain. You need to experiment to find the right color.
Matching old stain can be very difficult. Lightly sand with 220 grit (or
finer) sandpaper after the stain is dry.
Apply the top coat in several coats. Lightly sand between coats with 320
grit sand paper or 0000 steel wool.
Lightly apply 0000 steel wool after the last coat.
A couple of additional points to consider.
(1) The higher grit sandpaper you use, the less stain soaks in. That's
because there's less exposed grain for the stain to seep into. I
usually sand raw wood only to 180 - except the end grain (if that's
going to show) which I sand to 320. If you find that the stained color
is close but not deep enough, you can always try applying a second coat
of stain. Realize that the second coat will soak up less than the
first coat too.
(2) I also don't sand between the stain and first coat. Too much risk
that I'll sand through the stain someplace. If you want to sand here
(because the stain really raised the grain), go easy using with a 320
I completely agree about using 320 between each coat of seal and go
with 3 coats of seal. You'll end up with a really smooth surface -
almost certainly smoother than your current cabinets! Doing anything
after the final coat is up to your judgement. If the final coat feels
smooth to the bare hand, don't worry about it - especially for cabinet
type of work.
My major concern would be ending up with something that looks right
color wise but is finished much nicer than the rest of your cabinets -
which might make it stand out. If that's the case and you want to try
again, sand back down to the raw wood stopping at 150 and only apply 2
coats of seal - that's probably about as much as the original cabinets
After thinking about my post for a few hours, you correct. I don't sand the
stain. Actually, I just lightly touch the surface with whatever (most of
the time it is steel wool).
I have never used water based poly thus I have no experience to transmit.
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