Veneer Table Not Taking Stain

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Forum topic by megsobrien posted 03-18-2015 02:57 PM 835 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View megsobrien's profile


1 post in 588 days

03-18-2015 02:57 PM

Hi there,

So I’m a major rookie with woodworking/staining and I have just finished stripping, sanding and staining an oak veneer table and having some maaajor issues. The table top I knew was veneer so was very careful to use a fine sand and made sure i didn’t sand it down too much. Once I was finished (or thought I was) I began to stain and for some reason some areas on the table top are not taking the stain. I have attached a photo for reference. I have tried feathering in the stain in the blotchy areas but I’m still not having any luck.

The pedestal is another disaster in that it is so blotchy I cannot possibly do touch ups. I made the mistake of not putting a wood condition on both pieces so now for the base I am going to resand and add a conditioner, then stain. I do believe that the base is solid wood, or at least I think. See pic for reference. It’s awful I know.

Any suggestions on what I can do to salvage this so I don’t have to go ahead and just slap a coat of paint on it?



5 replies so far

View jmartel's profile


6473 posts in 1572 days

#1 posted 03-18-2015 03:09 PM

I think the problem you are running into is that the veneer is so thin so the stain is getting messed up by the glue underneath. I’ve never used stain over veneer, though. I typically only topcoat.

-- The quality of one's woodworking is directly related to the amount of flannel worn.

View TimberMagic's profile


114 posts in 601 days

#2 posted 03-18-2015 03:30 PM

You may have used such a fine grit of sandpaper that you have reduced the size of open “pores”, essentially doing a decent job of sealing up the grain.

You did not mention the type of stain you used, but maybe try a gel-based stain like General Finishes. The heavier solids, and paste-like consistency, may help you get a more uniform coverage.

Here is a picture of a box I made with veneered-MDF panels covering a plywood box. This veneer took regular (thin, solvent-based) stains very poorly, leaving a slightly blotchy finish. The edge trim is cherry. I used General Finishes Java gel stain, and the coverage was incredibly uniform on the panels and the hardwood trim.

-- Lee

View barada83's profile


76 posts in 608 days

#3 posted 03-19-2015 03:38 AM

I’m guessing either you didn’t actually remove the stain to begin with (oak is an open pored wood which makes this difficult) or you are hitting the glue and it’s not absorbing. If I was doing this I would try more for a glaze versus a penetrating type stain. Use a wiping or gel stain over the top. It works well for darkening existing finishes and sits on top of the existing finish. If you need to lighten it, you’ll have some issues.

-- Mike

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 1314 days

#4 posted 03-20-2015 04:23 AM

‘Quick fix option’ – should you decide to take this route:

Lightly hand-sand all the well-stained areas to match the not-well-stained areas. Then clear coat. It will look better that way than what you have now.

And, welcome to Lumberjocks!

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View DrDirt's profile


4141 posts in 3164 days

#5 posted 03-20-2015 05:13 AM

You can fix areas with aerosol toners… as others have pointed out, the veneer glue will bleed into the wood, and so you always find veneers, or plywood panels, never take stain the same way as the solid wood does.

I hear some have had luck with gel stains… I have not had that be a solution.

Usually I have had to use a darker dyestain on the panel than on the solid wood frame… but that does take some experimentation to nail it. easy with scraps… harder when you only have the final product to play with.

I have this…. in a couple colors- that allows me to tweak things. I typically apply ON TOP of a sealcoat of shellac or lacquer, not to the wood. I stain and dye till it is near perfect, seal the surface, then ‘tweak’ if needed with toner. Good luck… getting color matches can lead to a drinking problem… and extensive cussing.

I avoid like the plague.

-- 'Political correctness is fascism pretending to be manners' ~George Carlin

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