need help!


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Okay...want to make this pretty short and sweet as it's late and my googleing attempts are as exhausted as I am. Have a kitchen table that had burn marks on it and had the idea of refinishing it the way I wanted it. Started off as a Pinterest idea..thought I had it covered..apparently I'm not as crafty as I thought. Any who I took a trip to myself 2 different color stains, wood conditioner and some polyurethane. All minwax brand. I have no knowledge as to what type of wood it it...seems to be MDF..with a thin layer of some wood. Sanded it with an OS...60 then 100 And finished with 150. Applied the conditioner and then coated with my first color choice of stain, let sit for a few minutes..wiped off. Color is uneven and blotchy in some area. I tried applying another coat after dry time..still the same. Figured if I Applied my second choice of color it would be okay as I'm going for a more rustic look anyhow. Didn't make a difference..and I hate it. As it looks like almost a straight line with 2 different color tones on each side. Ugh...I'm hoping to avoid spending more money. If anyone can give me some greatly appreciate it.

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So first as was stated above,  I normally sand up to 220, 180 at a minimum before starting the torture. . I mean finishing. 

I'm a bit confused at what you're asking. 

As to the botching, those panels do look like a muddy mess.   How did you apply the stain? Wood does have variance in color so some of that may be normal,  you also may be close to sanding through the veneer and seeing the mdf start to show through. 

What is that line, about half way up the center panel? It looks like a clean cut from that angle. 

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Thank you Brandon for your response. So what I am asking is basically for a way to fix that..preferably without spending more money. Using a softer grit isn't a big deal as long as it works. As highlander said above..there's definitely opposing grain where the line is..which is what I think caused the 2 different color takes. As far as the lighter takes in other areas..not a big deal as I'm going for a more rustic look's that line that is driving me nuts and extremely unacceptable as far as I'm concerned look wise. That is what I want to fix but unsure of how or if it's even possible. I haven't touched the mdf yet however my concern is I have to be close and I do know that would ruin it. I used a cloth to apply the stain and that clean cut is where the leaf folds to slide under the table. Now...with all that being said...what should I do? I also have mineral spirits on hand as well.

Here is a close up of the line and different takes.


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Had a good look at the full sized images & here are my thoughts. The line between light & dark is where the figure of the grain is changing & stain is absorbed more on one side. As stated, sanding to a finer grit would help, but only to a point.

You can't sand the stain off because you'll go through the veneer, but you could carefully sand up to 220 or so. Then mix up some dye as close the color of the stain as possible & selectively apply it to the surface to try to even out the color. With the stain already in place, I'm not sure how the dye will absorb. An acetone or alcohol rather than water based dye would probably work better. Others with more experience with this may be able to help with that.

I've never had good success with evening out wide color variations using just stain because light areas just don't seem to hold enough stain without there being a thick build up on the surface. And that build up can interfere with the finish.

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I tihnk the best advice for something like this is to have a piece that you can test on but that doesn't seem to really be an option. Unless the under side of the center extension is veneer similar to the top you could try experimenting there.

This is a hard one i don't want to give advice and have it fail miserably and you end up getting pissed at that guy on the internet that just had an idea.

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Lol any advise is greatly appreciated. And I understand that each case is different...there is no cure all answer to any one situation. Trial and error..specially for me. Haven't made any decisions yet on what I'm going to do..waiting a little bit as every time I walk in the work room..this extreme urge to take the chainsaw to it makes more sense. But I guess that means no more kitchen table. ? anyhow thank you guys a bunch for your responses!! Greatly appreciated!!

The table was given to me...don't think I want to pay someone. Its a really nice table height and sits 8. Chairs are super nice. Redid one of them and looks really nice. My vision was dark stained top and white bottom..which I painted one of the chairs and looks nice to me. Don't really like the idea of paint on the top..however it may be the end result if I can't figure something out.

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Let’s summarize:

Table veneered with blotch-prone stock, stain applied, poor result.

Already sanded once and presumably little skin remaining for second sanding – high sand-through risk.

Desired state: more even result, presumably fairly dark while minimizing spend.



So, what’s the lesson learned so far?   That’s right... When the can says to try it on a non-visible section of the furniture... They mean it...

OK, let’s see what we can make happen...

First of all, let’s determine what you stained it with... Can you post the products used?

Some stains can be partially (and some completely) reversed with wood bleach and other fairly dangerous (but remarkably inexpensive) chemicals – I’ve got a cabinet full... :)

Let’s see if we can partially (probably not completely) reverse some of the damage without sanding...

That’s where I’d start...

The stock is so blotch prone that I’d look at two coats of CN’s pre-stain-conditioner and/or gel stains... But let’s see if we can get to a better starting point...

You know, black is the new black... You could just punt and use a black gel stain... Or we could get creative and go with a light milk-paint over of the dark stain...

Anyway, let's see if we can mitigate some of the damage...

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Ouch...I thought I mentioned I wasn't a professional? Seemingly I came on here for advise on something I've already done..can't be reversed unfortunately. The facts..I know nothing about wood or refinishing..table was given to me. Had horrible damage to the top so figured I'd attempt to do something..which failed. Why I'm I used all minwax orbital sander 60,100 and 150 grit. I used a wood conditioner first. Then applied stain. Now I'm where I'm at...and I did test on a piece of the table not visible and got great results..why I moved on. But since the table happens to have opposing grain..which I knew nothing of until after the fact..different result. 

Here is all the products..didn't use the lambswool or poly yet..thankfully. I used a cloth to apply 2 coats of ebony and 1 coat of classic grey oh and also to apply wood conditioner. What do you think about mineral spirits?


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If I may make on further suggestion --

At some point, you'll need to sand the top... Sometime after you finish removing much of the stain and wanting to start with the blotch control...

Not knowing how thick the veneer is, it could still have reasonable stock remaining, or it could very thin indeed --- with the accompanying risk of sand-through... Sand-through doesn't necessarily mean sanding through the veneer itself... It could mean sanding to the point where the veneer is so thin that the stain interacts with the adhesive affixing the veneer to the table...

BTW: The 'line of blotch' may not be the wood itself, but the adhesive below it... Say you sanded one side, then moved around the table and sanded the other, but you didn't sand the same on both sides. The veneer on one side maybe became too thin and the adhesive interacted with the stain on that side, but not on the thicker side... BTW: this has happened to me, so don't feel too bad... :) If this happened, the Gel stain should still conceal the problem, but not perfectly...

Random orbit sanders are great, but they remove stock very quickly (which is one of the reasons they're are great)... :)

Use sheet sandpaper and a sanding block for any more sanding... And sand with the grain...

I know it's more work, but after all the time you've invested, sanding through the veneer with a random-orbit sander would ruin your day...


Good luck.

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Thank you for this information. Definitely will help!! Still haven't touched it since as I'm still disappointed in the results...not only am I ocd..I'm a perfectionist so anything less than perfect I'm devastated. So it may end up in the dumpster or anywhere that's not in sight. I'm going to try a few things first that's been recommended though before I make that decision.

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