I had never made a table before but was pretty good with picture frames,
having made many for my wife of the past 40 years. (She is an artist
painting on canvas with acrylics). I have made the frames with the
equivalent of Lowes's "white" wood. We have stained and varnished
hundreds of these frames over the years. She uses Minwax oil base
polyurethane stain, Minwax oil based polyurethane varnish, and cleans up
with mineral spirits.
I decided to make a table the same way I make picture frames. I used
the same premium "white" wood from Loews that I use for frames. I made
the table top by gluing together 1X2 and 1X4 material I made the legs
out of 1X2 and a ripped a 1X2 to make the "L" shaped legs square.
Everything was looking good until we started to finish the top. My wife
used the same stain she has used on the frames, put three coats on the
top. After the third coat dried there were white spots. When she tried
to clean it off with mineral spirits, everywhere the mineral spirit
touch it appeared to leach white material from the wood along the grain.
We sanded it off, restained, and then varnished. Almost 24 hours after
the second coat of varnish dried, the white material reappeared, again
on the grain. NOTE: while the white material appeared to be on the hard
edges of the gain I have no proof that is what caused it.
Could someone give me ideas on where to go from here, without giving up
and painting the table.
On Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 8:53:06 PM UTC-5, keith firstname.lastname@example.org wr
Hello, Keith. Take anything you read after this sentence with a grain of s
alt and remember what you paid for it. I do finishing as part of my work,
so maybe this will be of some value.
Two things come to mind. First, the soft wood you are working with is usua
lly spruce or fir. Depending on where you are in the country and what they
got a deal on, Lowes will send hemlock, fir, spruce or pine to be sold as
white wood. Sometimes those woods are a mystery known only to the actual l
No matter. That group of wood all finishes the same. So a couple of things
to look for. I would CAREFULLY inspect the exact point on the wood where
it isn't taking finish. Is it close to a knot? Can you see any wood figur
e on that area after staining? Is it a bit rougher or a bit harder than th
e surrounding wood? Those burly areas do not take stain well, nor do they
hold it. You can put your stain down, have the top look fine, and then lif
t it up off the wood (literally!) with an oil based finish if you apply it
with a brush, pad or roller. A table top is a much larger project than a pi
cture frame and the temptation to overwork the finish coat if just about ov
erwhelming. You can literally brush on the finish, come back to smooth the
material and brush off the stain if it didn't take. Been there done that
way too many times myself.
Next, some runs of soft wood vary widely in the grain density even on the s
ame piece of wood. This can cause blotchiness, and inconsistent stain colo
r. I have personally stained pine that was so hard around knotty areas tha
t it simply didn't take any stain at all.
The other possibility (after your examination to determine exactly where th
e white spots are) is that the wood itself has been contaminated with somet
hing. Remember, their "white wood" isn't considered furniture grade wood,
and after the great pine craze of the 60s and 70s was over, no one really u
sed it for table tops as it is considered too soft to be practical. So thes
e woods don't get the best storage or shipping care, nor are they handled w
ith care in the store.
I would try one more time to get it take, then I would paint. Strip it (no
t just sand off the finish as you will leave contaminates behind when you s
and) and wash the top well with cheap lacquer thinner. Let it dry, wash it
again. Then apply a good wood conditioner to the soft wood to help it abs
orb the color into the wood. Since you are on Minwax products, they make a
dandy wood conditioner. Apply as directed.
Not satisfactory? The wood has a deeply absorbed contaminate that the solv
ents in your finish are pulling up every time you apply a coat. The stain
is just sitting on top of the wood, and has no penetration so your finish i
s literally pulling it up.
If you don't like what you see when you do the above steps, sand well to 24
0gr, apply a coat of shellac, then a good oil based paint.
First read I missed the name of your product.
BUT as I read about your problem I thought to my self, it sounds like he
is using a Minwax product.
What you are seeing is exactly why I DO NOT use Minwax stains.
It may very well be a problem with your wood but I don't have problems
with other products like I do with Minwax.
I'm thinking that the solvent in the varnish lifted the stain and what you
are seeing is unstained wood. The key is, "When she tried to clean it off
with mineral spirits, everywhere the mineral spirit touch it appeared to
leach white material from the wood along the grain."
"Stain" - oil stain - is pigment in BLO. It really doesn't penetrate very
deeply, the color is mostly because of the pigment catching in the minute
crevices of the wood; it isn't intended to sit on top of the wood;
unabsorbed stain should be thoroughly wiped off and the stain completely dry
before anything else - including more stain - is applied.
BLO takes a considerable time to dry...days, not hours.Three coats would
take a week or more to dry. If it isn't dry, wiping it with thinner will
lift it and show on whatever you are wiping with. Varnishing over it will
do similar but the color will just dissipate into the varnish.
Sand it down again, restain and don't varnish for a week or two...when you
can no longer smell the stain and/or when wiping with thinner doesn't lift
color, THEN varnish. Do that and you should be successful. I assure you,
it is what you are doing, nothing within the wood.
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