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Forum topic by ChasHutch posted 04-15-2009 09:34 PM 1562 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View ChasHutch's profile


56 posts in 3135 days

04-15-2009 09:34 PM

Topic tags/keywords: alder finishing sanding question

Would someone kindly offer look at this pic and possibly tell me what I am doing wrong?

This is 4/4 alder that I was going to use as a monitor stand for my wife’s home office. I have all the legs cut and a cute little drawer made to attach under it but… it’s ruined!

I sanded this down to 600 grit and it felt as smooth as a baby’s rear. These pics are after one coat of minwax golden oak. I am concerned about the edge (where it looks like the stain is not taking) and the large spt that looks like a glue spot or a thumb print (but is not).

The board is 46”x7 3/4”. Any thoughts or suggestions appreciate

-- Hutch - North Dallas, Tx - Safety First

12 replies so far

View marcb's profile


768 posts in 3093 days

#1 posted 04-15-2009 09:37 PM

I don’t like to sand too smooth if I’m going to stain. This comes from something my mother told me when she redid cabinets back when I was a kid.

Apply a light wipe of a damp rag to raise the grain and try a 2nd coat.

View motthunter's profile


2142 posts in 3219 days

#2 posted 04-15-2009 09:38 PM

looks like you had some residue on the board from tape or something similar.. hard to say in a photo.

-- making sawdust....

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 3111 days

#3 posted 04-15-2009 09:41 PM

i’m with marcb on this you need to raise the grain and add second coat good luck and post new pic when it comes right and dont panic we all been here


-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

View Steelmum's profile


355 posts in 3382 days

#4 posted 04-15-2009 09:57 PM

The second pic looks like it might be very slightly rounded over while sanding. This is extremely easy to do, especially if you don’t use a sanding block. (how do you think I know this?)

-- Berta in NC

View Rustic's profile


3220 posts in 3016 days

#5 posted 04-15-2009 10:10 PM

I tend to agree with motthunter. The first pic looks like something was there and left a residue behind. I sand to 240. I was told once that if you want edges to match the top…sand a grit higher the top and bottom. In the second pic i don’t know what to tell ya.

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

View ChasHutch's profile


56 posts in 3135 days

#6 posted 04-15-2009 10:19 PM

Great thoughts… thanks all.

Berta… I did use a sanding block on the routed edges but was too agressive when sanding the top (edges).

I really took my time with this because I wanted it to be nice for my wife. I will try to raise the grain and blend the next coat into the good areas.

Will post more pics when this is rescued.

Thanks again! Ya’ll rock!

-- Hutch - North Dallas, Tx - Safety First

View Tim Pursell's profile

Tim Pursell

499 posts in 3202 days

#7 posted 04-15-2009 10:44 PM

I’m guessing that Alder is a pretty soft wood. Sanding to 600 grit may have sealed the pores needed to let stain color the wood, especially if your sandpaper got loaded up & you use a lot of presure to sand the piece. It’s like burnishing. If you can find a DYE in the same color, that may solve your problem. 180 to 220 is as far as I would go. Dye or stain then seal with shellac & sand @ 320 to get the smooth finish you are looking for. 600 grit , as far as I know should only be used on finishes, not bare wood.
Raising the grain, now, will help but I’d probably sand it all down with 180 to take out most (or all) of the color & re-stain.
Don’t feel bad The only reason I can advise you on this is I learned in the school of hard knocks..
Been there, done that !


View johnpoolesc's profile


246 posts in 2780 days

#8 posted 04-15-2009 11:04 PM

if i can guess,, you wanted a dark finish and started with alder. golden oak has destroyed several of my early attempts,, you can resand and save.. i would dye oil based poly for alder.. then add clear coats of water based poly for protection.. now that i am old, i seldom stain, start with cherry or walnut,

and i sand everything to 1000 grit or better.. and i almost never use poly. i try for the hand polished look, so i sand and hand polish with one of the mylands products..

-- It's not a sickness, i can stop buying tools anytime.

View Catspaw's profile


236 posts in 3235 days

#9 posted 04-16-2009 12:09 AM

Personally, I don’t know why anybody is sanding with such fine grits. As soon as you put anything on the wood, that degree of smoothness is gone.

We sand to 120. In our experience, the wood takes stain really well at that grit and levels the feel almost beyond human touch (approx. 0.0010”). If you want a smooth or glossy finish, do it in the finish coats, not the wood. Whatever sequence you do it in, raise the grain, knock it down, then put the first coat of poly, cat/var, or whatever. Then everything is sealed in place. You cut the feathers and go from there.

120 sanding will be filled by the second top coat (actually pretty much on the first, but…). The rest is how well you’re applying the finsh …. sans dust floating around, wet or dry sanding with a fine grit between coats, tacking it off, etc.

(Of course, this to me is like trying to use 64ths when cutting wood. It never ceases to amaze me when some one does this, then proceeds to tell me how wood is “alive” and moves. Also, this is to be read as an opinion/observation. I’m not trying to trash anybody here.)

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3207 days

#10 posted 04-16-2009 01:54 AM

Looks like glue residue to me. First picture may have been where you used tape to hold the edge and the second was squeeze out for the end. Looks like you may have wiped it off with a wet rag, but it penetrated into the wood and was not completely removed. I always wipe the board first with mineral spirits which will highlight any glue spots for correction before I stain.

If what I surmise may be correct, re-sand, but no finer than 150 grit. Finish sand by hand with a sanding block, one grade paper finer, going with the grain, to remove any swirl marks from a power sander.

If you use a pre-stain sealer, let it dry overnight, not just the 2 – 4 hours that Minwax recommends (I have had much better luck doing this to prevent blotching).

Caveat: I have never worked with alder, just pines, maple, etc in the soft woods, so I may be far off base.

It has happened to me and I probably can safely wager to many others. Sorry for the result, but resanding can correct it.


-- Go

View matt garcia's profile

matt garcia

1877 posts in 3092 days

#11 posted 04-16-2009 02:50 AM

I think you’re sanding to fine for stain. Most stains indicate that you don’t go higher than 180 grit. Anything finer and you start to close the pores of the wood.

-- Matt Garcia Wannabe Period Furniture Maker, Houston TX

View CharlieD's profile


96 posts in 3136 days

#12 posted 04-16-2009 03:10 AM

Hey Hutch, I’ll throw in my 2 cents worth
1. I have no idea and if I did you wouldn’t want to listen to it.
2. You know better than to listen to me (:>

-- Charlie - Texas

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