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  • How can I fix my poor staining job?

    Hi
    I have a number of pine veneer, solid core, shaker style doors that I botched up in the staining process.
    I sanded them lightly, methodically applied Minwax conditioner, took up the dust, then applied a Varathane stain. The odd thing is that the rails and stiles turned out fine, and a few panels turned out fine, but many panels have come out terribly blotchy.
    I have two coats of stain on now and stopped.
    How can I fix the offending panels?
    They are veneer so sanding may not work that well, as I may sand clear through the veneer.
    How is it that on the same door, the styles and rails turned out, and some panels are ok, but the other panels are terribly blotchy? I was very thorough and methodical in my prep.

    If anyone knows of a fix I would love to hear.

    Also, I have to ask, does anybody know if it is possible that there might be something wrong with the veneer panel itself?

    Signed,
    Terribly Frustrated



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    Last edited by CottageGuy; 04-14-2015, 08:10 PM.
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  • #2

    Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

    Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

    You said you were methodical in preping the panels......did you sand too much and possibly almost sand through some of the panels?

    Another option is that pine veneer on one panel is of a different density / porosity than another panel. Not too much to do about that, as wood is just a natural material.
    ______________________________________________
    Rob Brown
    Editor - Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement

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    • #3

      Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

      Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

      No. Being aware that I was working with a veneer I made sure to lightly sand the panels.
      Would the different density cause the blotchy streaks though? I can see it accounting for a different shade from one piece to the next. And why no streaks or blotchiness on the rails and styles, just the panels?


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      • #4

        Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

        Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

        Blotchiness in pine is affected by a wide variety of things, some of which are on your end, some of which are on the tree's end. Different grains, sap content, etc, ensure that one piece of pine from one tree will stain differently than another piece from a different tree, even if your prep was all the same. Those doors would be pieced together from all different pieces of pine, so I would expect difference.

        Further, your second pic especially, to me, looks like either uneven sanding or uneven application of conditioner.

        Finally, how long did you wait between conditioner and stain? Flexner makes a good argument to wait a full day.

        As for fix, I would try sanding it down first. You could have thick enough veneer to get away with it. Iff the sanding works, great. If not, we'll then atleast you tried, go ahead and spray with a solid colour finish to cover a multitude of sins.

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        • #5

          Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

          Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

          Pine is known to be pretty difficult to stain, so some of the blotches are understandable even if the technique is correct. However, looking at some of the panels I think I see some problems with the mechanical prep of this work (sanding, handling), as well as with what would appear rather unfortunate approach to staining.

          So first, some panels seem to be sanded in all directions instead of with the grain. Did you use a sanding block or did you just hold the sandpaper in your hand? Some faults look like they result from the panels being scarred (resulting in depressions) during handling and then those depressions were not fixed before the stain was applied. There appear to be a few rather straight blotchy lines.

          Second, I am puzzled by some of the blotches. For instance the panel showing at the top of the second last picture, bottom left side of the panel - I find it unusual for the blotch line across to be a result of nature's design. They look more like that something was sliding over this panel.

          I'm not sure you can easily fix it.
          What you can try is wiping off as much of the existing stain as possible, using the correct solvent. Wait for the panels to dry completely and sand lightly with the grain as best as you can. If by any chance you manage to remove the stain completely, you may try to fix depressions by soaking them with a few drops of water and then pressing them with a hot iron. Use a sanding block or sponge to ensure consistency. Using just your hand poses a risk the pressure of individual fingers will be transferred onto the wood.

          When it comes to the concept of "light" sanding, it often doesn't define a whole lot. For staining softwood benefits from being sanded to rather fine grit 220 or above. It is critical that the surface is consistently smooth. With the panel already glued in it may turn out to be difficult (but not impossible) to achieve that consistency closer to the panels' borders.

          Now, it that was my job and if I had to fix it I would definitely switch to spray staining.
          Last edited by darius; 04-14-2015, 10:04 PM.
          In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion

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          • #6

            Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

            Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

            There's such a variety of grain on those doors.......pine even in the best situation is brutal from my experience. I just avoid it. I think you'll send a lot of time and effort to get mediocre results and still won't be happy with it. I vote for paint.
            Paul

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            • #7

              Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

              Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

              I did use a sanding block. I was told to just make about four passes with 150 grit with the grain. I stained about an hour and half after applying the conditioner.

              I'm still confused that the same process gave me good results on the rails and the stiles, and some panels.

              I can try the solvent then sanding off the blotches approach. What type of solvent do you recommend?


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              • #8

                Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

                Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

                Originally posted by CottageGuy View Post
                I did use a sanding block. I was told to just make about four passes with 150 grit with the grain. I stained about an hour and half after applying the conditioner.

                I'm still confused that the same process gave me good results on the rails and the stiles, and some panels.

                I can try the solvent then sanding off the blotches approach. What type of solvent do you recommend?


                Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
                So we now have some idea what happened.

                In my experience, there is no such thing as "4 passes" or 10 passes, or whatever number someone throws in. And I'm not even sure what is meant by a pass in this case. You sand as long as it takes to get a uniform surface and you make sure it is uniform indeed. The 150 grit is not sufficient for pine either. Far too coarse. The 150 would be probably just about the starting point, then 180, 240, possibly 320 if needed.

                You have blotches on the rails and stiles, only you don't notice them because compared to the panels they look not so bad. Also, bear in mind that wood is a natural product and it is not "manufactured" to exact specs. Your panels more than likely come from different trees, or different parts of the same tree than the rails and tiles. So different results are to be expected.

                For the solvent it will say right no the stain packaging - mineral spirits, alcohol etc. I mentioned solvents as a way to remove stain, but don't count on miracles. Stain is designed to go into the grain instead of on top of it, so how much can be removed is not exact science. Expect some sanding.

                You are facing a lot of elbow grease and no guarantees. As I mentioned before, I'd look into fixing this by spraying. If you decide to go that route do some reading/watching before you start spraying.
                In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion

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                • #9

                  Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

                  Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

                  Very good. Thanks.


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                  • #10

                    Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

                    Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

                    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but FWIW, I think that no matter what you do to those already stained panels, you're still going to be left with a mess. My suggestion is therefore to cut out the offensive panels using a plunge router and pattern bit. Then rout a rabbet from the back to receive the replacement panels I'm going to suggest you make.. Once done, I'd finish the panels first, then once you're happy with the results, install them.
                    All the best,

                    Marty

                    - Instagram: @schlossermarty
                    - facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Apex-Woodwo...0243458908979/

                    Secretary of Kingston Wood Artisans Inc. https://kwoodartca.wordpress.com/

                    Master Mistake Fixer (because I've made them all... at least once)

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                    • #11

                      Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

                      Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

                      In terms of sanding, when prepping pine for stain can a palm sander be used?
                      Also, I am using pine for trim. Is it wise to feed it through a thickness planer to get a smooth finish? Should I do that then follow with a high grit?


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                      • #12

                        Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

                        Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

                        I'll consider replacing the panels suggestion. I'll need to step back first and collect myself after this huge let down.
                        Is it possible to buy pine veneer to glue over the bad panels? Is that an option as a fix?


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                        • #13

                          Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

                          Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

                          Consider picking out one bad panel and sanding til stain is almost gone. Then refinish. If it works carry on. If it don't then ???

                          as per a previous post by Callee.
                          Egon
                          from
                          The South Shore, Nova Scotia

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                          • #14

                            Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

                            Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

                            Originally posted by CottageGuy View Post
                            I sanded them lightly, methodically applied Minwax conditioner, took up the dust, then applied a Varathane stain. The odd thing is that the rails and stiles turned out fine, and a few panels turned out fine, but many panels have come out terribly blotchy.
                            I have two coats of stain on now and stopped.
                            How can I fix the offending panels?
                            Hindsight is a wonderful thing!
                            As others have mentioned your sanding technique is definitely suspect and probably the root cause of your problems. FWIW I prep sand everything prior to assembly, quite often I will finish prior to assembly, I find it much easier. A ROS to at least 180, maybe even 220.
                            Another problem IMO is the two coats of stain. Why two coats? One coat is all you need. If it's not dark enough on your sample then get another , darker stain.
                            Always wipe stain or conditioner with the grain, just like sanding. Looks like either the conditioner or the stain got wiped "randomly".
                            IMO any product applied as a conditioner has to be fully dried and then scuffed back lightly (with the grain) before applying any stain.

                            You may be able to fix your problem to some degree by washing everything down with lacquer thinners and lots of clean rags. Flood the thinners on and wipe off as much as you can using a light touch with clean rags. Keep going until you don"t get any more colour coming off on the rags. It won't be a five minute fix either so be prepared to spend several hours at it, and pick a nice day and do it outside to avoid fumes etc inside your house/garage.
                            Once you get almost all the colour off, let it dry completely and resand lightly with a block and 180 grit paper, with the grain. I use a piece of 2x4 which has one side jointed flat to which I stuck a piece of felt. The 2x4 is cut to fit a 1/4 sheet of sandpaper. Also use good quality sandpaper, not box store cheapo stuff: I use Norton brand paper. Blow off the dust, wash with thinners again and you are ready to try a one time repair.
                            Simplest thing is to get a gel stain that is slightly darker than the remaining darkest stain area left. Follow instructions on side of can when applying and only apply one coat. The gel stain sits on the surface so it doesn't penetrate as deeply as a wiping stain so you get a smaller amount of blotching and a far more even colour. When stain is fully dry, apply topcoat.
                            Gel stains can be a useful thing to have around if you work with blotch prone woods and don't have access to the products that finishing and refinishing shops use.
                            Making samples before tackling the actual project is time very well spent as it will enlighten you to a whole host of potential problems.
                            Hope that helps
                            Paul
                            Last edited by Paul O in Paris; 04-15-2015, 10:52 AM.

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                            • #15

                              Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

                              Re: How can I fix my poor staining job?

                              Pine is incredibly hard to stain. It appears as if you can actually see where you wiped the stain across the grain. You cannot wipe across grain even if you're attempting to remove excess stain. You do have blotching on the rails and stiles but certainly less. My guess is it was much easier to wipe in straight lines.

                              One of the other possible troubles could be the Minwax conditioner. I have absolutely NO LUCK using any of their products. I don't get pleasure from saying so but I avoid them like the plague. It's sad to say because the name is so well known but why it is so difficult to use them is something I can't answer.

                              Frankly you're wasting your time trying to fix it. The stain has soaked right in and if it is veneer on plywood the veneer will be stained right through because it's so thin.

                              Cutting them out is pretty much your only option but before doing that make up a replacement panel and try to get an acceptable finish on it first. If you achieve that, make panels and finish them before installing them.
                              "Do it Right!"

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