I'm working on my first furniture grade woodworking project, a mini bar
for my rec room. It consists of plywood (pine sandy-ply grade?) panels
with 1x2 pine trim pieces covering up the joints, and some 2x4's and
2x2's inside for reinforcement. It was looking pretty good before I
started finishing it.
I chose minwax red oak stain, which is relatively dark. I bought the
wood conditioner too. Even with the wood conditioner, the first coat
went on quite blotchy. Mostly blotchy on the 1x2 trim pieces, but the
plywood too. When I rubbed around with a cloth it seemed to pull up
and roughen the fibers of the plywood, making it look even worse. Also
I had put wood putty around the nail holes and it stained very badly.
I put on a second coat and it looked considerably better. Most
everything darkened, and I left a little extra stain on some of the
pieces that were stubbornly light. I thought it looked acceptable
Finally I put on a coat of satin polyurethane. Now it looks like crap
again. The rough pieces on the wood look really bad, and now any
blotchiness seems amplified. I started to sand it, but figured I'd ask
What are my options from here? Will it look better after a few coats
of polyurethane? My friend suggested mixing the stain and polyurethane
together for the next coats hoping that everything would even out. Is
that good advice? What amount of each to I mix? Should I sand down
and start staining again? Stain over the polyurethane?
Thanks in advance!
No, just smoother. Can you feel roughness now from wood fibers?
You might as well paint it.
Should I sand down and start staining again?
If you want it to look like stained wood, that is about your only
option but it may be hard to sand the plywood down without cutting
through the face ply. If you do it, you need to sand everything the
same and to the same degree of smoothness (pre-sanded ply isn't very
smooth) and seal it well so that the uneven stain absorption by the
hard/soft parts of the pine is minimized.
Generally, the smoother the wood the more even the absorption but that
doesn't mean you should sand it down with #600. Start with something
appropriate to its current smoothness (#120?) and sand the hell out of
it so you are sure all has been sanded to that grit; then use finer
grits on all parts equally to remove the marks from the coarser.
After $120, #180 would be appropriate. After that, #240A maybe (don't
know, rarely use softwoods). Personally, I rarely use anything finer
than #240 even on hardwoods except to sand the applied finish.
My plywood supplier told me Sandeply was paint-grade material. I used a
good latex primer and latex enamel on it to build some bookshelves for a
second-grade school classroom last fall. Turned out great.
Most of the projects I've done with Minwax stains have been a challenge,
if not a disappointment. Maybe it's just me, but I rather doubt it.
Don't stain over the poly. that wont work.
Sand or use steel wool to smooth everyting out. Don't worry about the
blotches yet. You just want to get it smooth. 220 sandpaper should be OK
The stain/poly combo may be OK to even things up a bit. Minwax has a
polyshades thing that is pre-mixed.
What the pros use to match things up is called a toner. it comes in
spray cans and is lacquer based. behlens is one brand. You will find it
at better woodworking stores, not lowes or that orange store. It comes
in colors and you can adjust the number of coats in specific areas if
more color is needed. When using it more light coats is better than
heavy coats. The toner can be your final finish or can be topped with a
clear lacquer spray (Same company sells this) or it can be topped with poly.
In my mind you are done with the stain. Use polyshades if you must but i
would go to the toner.
I know very little about staining, but I have a fairly good memory.
In a thread a couple of weeks(months?) ago, the OP stated he restained a
section of flooring, and it looked good until he applied a coat of poly,
which raised the grain and made it look terrible. Everyone's advice to that
poster was to apply more poly... that it was common for the project to not
look too good with only one coat of poly.
I'd suggest taking a leftover piece of that plywood and recreating the
finish you have now - it'll give you something to test out your options
on. At a minimum you'll want to lightly sand the surface of what you
have to smooth it out. When the raised fibers break off you may be
left with small spots that have not absorbed any stain. Adding stain
at this point will fix that but I'm not sure how it will affect the
final finish. Adding color to the polyurethane will definitely help
blend the uneven spots - you'd have to experiment a little to find out
how much to add. If you're using a water based polyurethane then
adding stain to it is definitely not a good idea. With oil based it
should work but I've only tried coloring polyurethane with other
colorants (i.e. TransTint dyes) so I can't tell you how well the Minwax
stain will work. Making a sample will also let you determine how well
sanding the finish and starting over might work, if you choose to take
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