Red Oak Splotches?

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Forum topic by Craig posted 02-10-2013 03:18 AM 1891 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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28 posts in 2582 days

02-10-2013 03:18 AM

This is my first time using General Finishes water based dye and I am having some splotches show up in the finish. Trying to figure out the cause and remedy.

Process was to mill, glue up, cut joinery, sand (80, 100, 150, 220), wet to raise the grain and scuff sand with 320.

This is the bottom of the cabinet, so I am not concerned, but want to know if I should follow a different procedure? I applied the finish by flooding the surface with a foam brush and then wiping off the excess. The major blotches show up where the grain changes to more of a rift or quarter sawn versus the flat sawn, but it is still evident there as well.

Since this is the bottom, it is possible that I was not as prudent in the sanding process. Also, there was maybe two hours between when I raised the grain to when I scuff sanded. Possible the wood was still moist and absorbed the dye differently?

Any help is appreciated.

12 replies so far

View waho6o9's profile


8190 posts in 2575 days

#1 posted 02-10-2013 04:20 AM

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28 posts in 2582 days

#2 posted 02-10-2013 04:31 AM

I am coming to that conclusion as well, but I understood red oak to be pretty blotch free compared to pine or others.

Guess I’ll order some to have on hand.

Any thoughts to possibly sanding technique? Thinking since it was the bottom I didn’t do as good a job? Have some cutoffs I’ll practice on tomorrow.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5659 posts in 2812 days

#3 posted 02-10-2013 04:39 AM

Oak should not need a pre-stain conditioner. The only time I have had stain look that way on oak is when the planer caused some tearout. The sanding misses some of the tearout, and stain absorbs more readily there. Hold it up to a raking light to see if you can spot some tearout. Especially common in the rift or quartersawn grain.
If that is the case, pay special attention to which way you send wood through the planer to avoid tearout.

If all else fails, try an oil based stain. I have always had good luck with Rodda oil stains.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Craig's profile


28 posts in 2582 days

#4 posted 02-10-2013 04:53 AM

Not terribly wet, used a cloth dipped in water to just moisten the surface, no standing puddles or anything. Maybe i didn’t wait long enough for the wood to dry? Could it be from minerals in the water? We have a softener, but I might try distilled water.

Going to try finishing a piece the same way without raising the grain first to rule that out. Will also check for tearout as suggested, really thinking maybe I slacked on the preparation since it was the bottom…

Thanks for the suggestion.

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28 posts in 2582 days

#5 posted 02-10-2013 04:58 AM

Tried another coat, seemed to make it worse.

Going to sand it down and start over tomorrow, maybe finish at a lower grit.

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2285 days

#6 posted 02-10-2013 05:28 AM

The first comment is the only thing to do.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Craig's profile


28 posts in 2582 days

#7 posted 02-10-2013 02:43 PM

just ordered some Charles Neil conditioner. Thanks.

View bondogaposis's profile


4727 posts in 2350 days

#8 posted 02-10-2013 03:48 PM

I think you have water blotches there, try skipping the raising grain step and see how that looks. If I apply water to a project I would not even think about working with it again until the next day.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2360 days

#9 posted 02-10-2013 04:50 PM

When I’ve used water soluble dye stains (TransTint) on red oak, I’ve pre-wetted the wood liberally, wiped it down with a wet rag, then liberally spritzed on the dye, and finished with the wet rag wipe down. No problems. I suspect the wetter the process, the better.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View CharlesNeil's profile


2399 posts in 3869 days

#10 posted 02-10-2013 06:07 PM

Craig , wipe it off as much as possibe with some damp cloths, to remove as much as possible, also wipe the back side, to keep the wood in moisture balance . Wiping it with a damp cloth or pad also may help even the color out some, remember with a dye, you have to look at it while its wet , thats what it will look like when a top coat is applied , when dry they can look totally different.
Red oak typically doesnt blotch but ocassionally there are some adverse grains that can show up.

View Craig's profile


28 posts in 2582 days

#11 posted 02-11-2013 01:08 AM

Worked on some cut-offs, trying different sanding and didn’t pre-raise the grain. Still a little blotching, primarily near the knot.

I ordered some of Charles’ conditioner, so I’ll keep experimenting to get the finish correct.

As Charles suggested, I’m going to seal with a coat of shellac then a couple coats of Arm-R-Seal to see if it corrects the blemishes. Looks fine when applied and the excess removed.

Thanks for all the suggestions. Like I mentioned earlier, this is my first attempt using dye and I am excited about the flexibility in colors available, but need to work through these issues.

Future projects won’t likely use flat sawn red oak, but it was readily available when I started this project, so I might have another learning curve with future projects.

View Craig's profile


28 posts in 2582 days

#12 posted 02-14-2013 11:49 PM

Charles’ conditioner just arrived, so I’ll give it a try this weekend. Thanks for the fast shipping.

I’ll post results on the next test piece. I sanded down the original, but I’ll try a different piece to get fresh results with the prior sanding technique.

Thanks for all the comments.

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