I am absolutely a newbie with wood refinishing of all kinds. I am trying to refinish a solid oak table (and benches) my dad made years ago. I sanded it down with 120 grit sandpaper. After sanding, I applied a quick, light coat of mineral spirits as suggested by the General Finishes tutorial video to reduce lap marks on a large surface. I am using General Finishes gel stain in Brown Mahogany.
I applied my first coat of stain with a foam brush, and then wiped off the excess stain with a shop towel. The whole tabletop looks TERRIBLY blotchy. See the attached pictures: the lighter table is after 1 coat, the darker table is after 2. The table is not covered in lap marks or streaks, but with big areas that are not absorbing the stain well. After waiting and applying a second coat, it looks the same, with the same areas not accepting as much stain (which leads me to believe it is a problem with the wood itself rather than the application of stain).
From my research, it seems as though I just need to sand off the entire finish again and start from scratch with a different game plan. Is that my best option for fixing it? Or can I salvage it at this point? I've been reading that I then need to apply dewaxed shellac or some kind of wood conditioner to help the stain go on evenly. Any suggestions on kinds?? And where to buy them? And more importantly, will that help??
Lastly, the previous finish that my dad always used on this table every time was Danish oil. Although I have sanded the surface thoroughly, is it possible the previous Danish oil having seeped in deeply is the problem as to why the stain is so blotchy?? Anything I can do about that? I am now extremely frustrated with the gel stain and am not sure if I should even bother with it anymore. If the problem is with the previous Danish oil, would it make sense to just use Danish oil again instead of a stain? I would like the table to be a medium to dark wood, and I have seen Danish oil in dark or black walnut that would be pretty (I hate the red tone of the brown mahogany stain, but the blotchiness is the more pressing concern). I would prefer to keep the wood grain visible, hence why I am using stains and not paints, but I am getting to the point I just want to give up and paint over the whole thing 😡
Any help/tips/advice would be greatly appreciated!!!
Noticed they give you the choice of 2 types of steel, 01 or PMV-11...anyone have the TL;DR on which is better?
Edit: found this online...looks to be written by the guys at LV, so not sure about lack of bias, but thought I'd share anyway