LumberJocks

Beginner needing staining advice

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by mujaki6 posted 02-18-2017 09:35 PM 360 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View mujaki6's profile

mujaki6

2 posts in 300 days


02-18-2017 09:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing

Hello all,
I have zero woodworking experience and this is my first time trying to do anything involving sanding and staining. Our dining table was extremely scratched up so instead of buying a new one I decided to try sanding it down and refinishing just the top. Because I was only wanting to do the top, I was hoping it would look pretty similar to what is existing on the side of the table and the legs. It didn’t have to a be perfect match, just not super noticeable. I also do not know what the wood type is.

Anyways, I sanded the entire table down with a rotary sander, using 80, 120, and 220 grit. Before I stained the table itself, I tried out the stain on one of the two shelves. I used MInwax pre-stain conditioner, Minwax stain, and finished with Minwax polyurethane. As you can see from the side-by-side pictures, the color is an OK match and I could live with it, however, the “look” of the wood has totally changed. Does anyone know why this is or what I did wrong? I don’t mind the new look but if that’s what I get then I will end up having to sand the entire table and chairs because the look is too different from the original. One thought I had is maybe the original finish had a nice looking fake veneer on it that I sanded off and the real wood underneath is not high quality? Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Bill


6 replies so far

View Rich's profile

Rich

1981 posts in 427 days


#1 posted 02-19-2017 04:36 AM

You don’t say which is which in the photo, but I’ll take a guess that the beautiful one on the right is your work.

-- No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

View JBrow's profile

JBrow

1274 posts in 758 days


#2 posted 02-19-2017 05:29 PM

mujaki6,

I have concluded that finishing is a craft unto itself, and matching finishes in the absence of information such as the species of wood is even more of a challenge. For these reasons, I tend toward clear finishes which are much easier. But I share what I can conclude from my limited knowledge of staining and finishing wood.

When I look at the two shelves you posted, the left looks much nicer than the right. The wood grain and its features are easily seen. It is much more difficult to see the wood grain on the shelf of the right and the overall color is not uniform. I guess the shelf on the right is the subject of your questions.

To my eye the shelf on the right is blotchy. Pigment from the stain seems concentrated in various areas of the board while other areas retained too little stain, even though Mimwax Pre-stain conditioner was used. OSU55 blogged about staining and his methods for controlling blotching. His post strikes me as authoritative and may be helpful to you…

http://lumberjocks.com/OSU55/blog/81210

Wood magazine published an article that deals with blotching. It too may be helpful…

http://www.woodmagazine.com/woodworking-tips/techniques/finishing/avoid-or-fix-blotchy-stain

Searching the web for blotch control when staining wood will bring up many other articles.

Ideally, determining the species of wood that you are re-finishing would be extremely beneficial. I think the effort to get a good enough finish match of the table top to the rest of the table and chairs will require a fair amount of trial and error experimenting. It may be that you have sanded through the veneer and thus your efforts would be trying to match a different species of wood (the substrate of the top) to that used on the chairs and the rest of the table. No matter, having unfinished boards of the same species as the top would be very useful for dialing in the products and the best method for their application to get that match you are after.

There are some clues that may help you determine whether the top was originally veneered or whether the top is solid wood. If the table top was veneered, there is likely an edge and end treatment that was installed to hide edges of the surface veneer. If the profile around the table top is a square edge profile (rather than a more elaborate profile like an ogee or even round over profile) the edges and ends could have been edge banded with a thin veneer. The veneer line should be visible. The substrate would have likely been MDF, Particle Board, or plywood. The MDF and Particle Board substrate would be readily apparent and since you did not make mention of these, you either did not sand through the veneer or plywood is the substrate. Some guesses as to the face veneer of the plywood are maple, poplar, or perhaps birch.

If the edge has an ornate profile and the top was veneered, the edge banding is more likely to be a strip of solid wood of some width. The corners of this wider edge banding were probably mitred at the corners.

If the top is solid wood, either bread board ends were installed on the ends or the end grain of the solid wood would be visible. If bread board were installed on a solid wood top, it is likely that the ends of the bread boards do not perfectly align with long edges of the top.

View Madmark2's profile

Madmark2

373 posts in 426 days


#3 posted 02-19-2017 05:51 PM

Don’t stain, just clear urethane. Use a wood that is naturally the color you want. Oak with walnut stain will never look like solid walnut, it’ll always look like walnut stained oak.

M

View Rich's profile

Rich

1981 posts in 427 days


#4 posted 02-19-2017 05:55 PM


When I look at the two shelves you posted, the left looks much nicer than the right. The wood grain and its features are easily seen. It is much more difficult to see the wood grain on the shelf of the right and the overall color is not uniform. I guess the shelf on the right is the subject of your questions.

I’ll start by saying that the photo is somewhat blurry. Without seeing the piece in the proper light, it’s not possible to be specific about what’s good or bad with it.

That said, while you find the one on the right to look blotchy and like the one on the left, I find the one on the left to be just the sort of stuff you get from Sam Levitz or whatever discount furniture store is in your area. It looks like an everyday factory finish, that is intended to be cheap to apply, consistent from piece to piece, and appeal to the masses.

The one on the right, rather than blotchy, seems to be showing off the character and grain of the wood. It’s a matter of personal taste — if someone likes that featureless, factory look, that’s great. I happen to like wood with character.

I agree about your preference for clear finishes. Some woods like alder need some stain to bring them to life. With nicer woods like cherry, and exotics like bubinga and chechen, I go with clear finish.

-- No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

View Rich's profile

Rich

1981 posts in 427 days


#5 posted 02-19-2017 05:57 PM



Don t stain, just clear urethane. Use a wood that is naturally the color you want. Oak with walnut stain will never look like solid walnut, it ll always look like walnut stained oak.

M

- Madmark2

He’s trying to refinish an existing piece of furniture, so he’s not getting to choose what he wants.

-- No matter how much you push the envelope, it'll still be stationery.

View mujaki6's profile

mujaki6

2 posts in 300 days


#6 posted 03-03-2017 12:30 AM

Thanks for all the advice people. It turns out the wood that the drawers were made of were a much lower quality than the tabletop. You can see my finished results below. It’s not perfect but it’s pretty decent for my first try. You can see some areas where I sanded too hard. If you look at it from an angle in the light, you can also see some tiny “bubbles” from the polyurethane and swirl marks from the last coat. (I put the last coat on with a rag instead of a foam brush as I read that could get rid of the bubbles.)

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics

HomeRefurbers.com