Help! Major mistake!

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Forum topic by Beginner513 posted 01-18-2013 09:17 AM 944 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 1041 days

01-18-2013 09:17 AM

This is my first major home

project—I just started refinishing my kitchen cabinets (original to the ‘55 house). I managed to get one cabinet successfully stripped and sanded, but boy did I mess up the second one. I tried sanding with the grain, once I realized my mistake, and it only made it worse. I feel like the Cat in the Hat right about now. Any suggestions for how to fix this major mistake?

18 replies so far

View Kelby's profile


134 posts in 1497 days

#1 posted 01-18-2013 09:34 AM

Is this the door of the cabinet, or part of the box?

-- Kelby

View Purrmaster's profile


899 posts in 1179 days

#2 posted 01-18-2013 10:21 AM

Are the cross grain scratches too deep for a random orbital sander to sand them out? Could you use a belt sander with the grain to sand them out?

View Beginner513's profile


3 posts in 1041 days

#3 posted 01-18-2013 10:41 AM

It is a cabinet door front. There was some stubborn paint in that spot. At least the paint is gone. I have a Black&Decker Mouse sander that the guy at my hardware store suggested for the job. Used 80 grit. Could that be the problem?

View Beginner513's profile


3 posts in 1041 days

#4 posted 01-18-2013 10:42 AM

The scratches don’t seem too deep.

View ellen35's profile


2668 posts in 2518 days

#5 posted 01-18-2013 12:13 PM

80 grit??? Seems very coarse. start with a higher grit and work your way up. I think the 80 was just too much for the wood.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View Wdwerker's profile


333 posts in 1319 days

#6 posted 01-18-2013 01:02 PM

You sanded through the veneer. Not much you can do, replace the door, re-veneer , or try to hide it with dark stain.

-- Fine Custom Woodwork since 1978

View crank49's profile


3898 posts in 2057 days

#7 posted 01-18-2013 01:42 PM

You might have better luck going forward by stripping first, then light sanding with fine grit.
Are the doors plain or raised panel?
You need a good scraper also.
I like to use the “Red Devil” handled scraper to pull the gunk out of corners when stripping.

In terms of fixing the cross grain scratches, if those were plain plywood doors (typical of 1950s) you might be able to sand and scrap with the grain and fix it. Plywood of the 50s was much higher quality with thicker veneers than the stuff available today.

Sorry if there are pictures, my work computer won’t display pictures on this site, so I am responding in the blind.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View Mike53E's profile


12 posts in 1290 days

#8 posted 01-18-2013 01:53 PM

The best way to remove paint quickly is with a heat gun and a putty knife. Hit it with the sander or a card scraper to finish up. The 20$ you will spend for a heat gun is worth the hours of time you will save.

View Bogeyguy's profile


549 posts in 1154 days

#9 posted 01-18-2013 01:57 PM

Looks like you sanded through the veneer. If that’s the case that surface is shot. Not sure what part of the cabinet it is. Can you hide it somewhere? Cover it with a piece of veneer?? I don’t think your going to be able to make that spot look good with a stain or other type of finish.

-- Art, Pittsburgh.

View huff's profile


2826 posts in 2371 days

#10 posted 01-18-2013 02:03 PM

From the picture, it looks like you sanded through the veneer. Looks like the more you sanded the worse it got. If so, you do have a problem. No staining is going to hide that. The sub layer will always stain differently and of course the grain is running the opposite direction from the veneer. You may need to reveneer that door or make another. Going to be tough to match no matter what you do…...............except repaint.

-- John @

View Straightbowed's profile


717 posts in 1384 days

#11 posted 01-18-2013 02:30 PM

I know your pain I was goin to sand my cabs down and hit the veneer of course I really thought they were solid so I painted them

-- Stevo, work in tha city woodshop in the country

View Straightbowed's profile


717 posts in 1384 days

#12 posted 01-18-2013 02:32 PM

paint cabs with a super good grade of paint they will look great

-- Stevo, work in tha city woodshop in the country

View dhazelton's profile


1726 posts in 1382 days

#13 posted 01-18-2013 02:39 PM

How do you plan on finishing them? If you plan on painting you can just use bondo there and you won’t see the gouging. If you plan on stain and varnish you may decide to just make a new door (you won’t sand out that round spot with the two screw holes anyway). Most site built 1950s cabinet doors were just plywood so it should be simple to duplicate. You’ll have to be creative with the stain to match the old work. Or chuck it and make that cabinet open faced if it’s an upper and that look works for you.

View Marcus's profile


1141 posts in 1105 days

#14 posted 01-18-2013 02:43 PM

Another vote for “that door is done”. Maybe consider replacing the panel with glass and do the same to a matching door? I’ve seen this look in a couple kitchens where they have just one cupboard with glass doors, looked really sharp.

View bondogaposis's profile


3444 posts in 1437 days

#15 posted 01-18-2013 03:40 PM

Make a new door or paint.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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