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Fotobabe28

Can this finish be fixed?

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Hi, I am new to this forum and really hope someone can help me. I am refinishing a cedar chest, close to 100 years old. Lid and sides are veneer, inside and back are cedar.  I am an amateur, all work is done in my basement and not a woodworking shop. Let's just say I am learning from my (many) mistakes.

First, used straight polyurethane, I applied it too thick, and then dust and stupid bubbles kept showing. I sanded in between the coats, but on the last coat, I stood the lid on it's side to dry, thinking less dust would settle. Instead, long drips appeared. I thought I could sand them out, but I wound up having to sand a good portion of the lid. So, knowing all the sanding I did to the veneer in the first place, I was afraid to sand it down more. I applied Citristrip instead.  

I let the Citristrip sit for an hour. Tested a good section, but it didn't remove all the poly, even with a scraper.  Here's where I think I really messed up- I only reapplied the Citristrip to the area I removed it from, the test section, but not the rest of the lid (so the rest of the lid still had the first application of Citristrip on it), and let it sit overnight. Next morning, I removed all of the Citristrip, but noticed the test section had a different texture and color. I thought, ok I messed up, I'll just have to sand it all down again, actually re-stain and re-poly. I waited a few days because the test section was still damp and thought it needed to dry out from the second application of the Citristrip.

But it is not drying out. 3/4 of the lid looks shiny, smooth, and is dry to the touch. The test section is smooth, but damp to the touch, and darker in color. I started to sand down the shine of the non-test section this morning (using 120 paper), hoping I could get it to somehow blend with the test section, but the test section just clumps up on the pad, and I'm afraid of ruining the good side.   

Before I completely destroy it, if I haven't already, I read that denatured alcohol was used to remove Citristrip "sticky residue".  From what I can see, the test section finish is completely clean of any Citristip. It's just damp to the touch and seems darker in color- is that the same thing as residue?  Should I try denatured alcohol on the whole lid, or just the test section, or not at all?  Should I just keep sanding until the whole lid is consistent, and then re-stain again?  Is there something else I should do? 

Thank you for any guidance!

Laura20180413_093006.thumb.jpg.e23da003c88a9f1b079ba77a1207c1eb.jpg

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Ouch!  Quite the experience.  I would be tempted to get things dry first.  I am not sure why things still feel damp after a day or more but, we will have to get past that before we start applying finish again.

I would recommend a dye with a top coat to help you hide the irregularities.  Dye will color all surfaces more uniformly than a stain.  I would be tempted to wipe the whole top down with some denatured alcohol and see if I can get to a nice dry state.  Once there, let's proceed.

Very lightly sand the surface with something like 400 grit paper.  This will get us to some sort of consistent state without the risk of sanding through the veneer.  Once that is done, wipe the surface off with a tack cloth or a rag lightly dampened with mineral spirits.  Let the wipe down dry off and take a picture.  That will let us know how to proceed.

With luck the next steps will be to color the surface with a dye and spray it with some rattle-can poly or varnish.  I think this will assure you of the best outcome.  If you want to dive into more advanced finishing methods we can certainly start down that road.  Keep us posted ;-) 

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Laura

For future reference

If I get a sag or drip in my finish I use a chisel to pare off most of the sag. If you try to sand it out without removing the sag first you will sand through the finish beside the sag.

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 thank you both! I will try and let you know what happens.  

 Larry, yes, that is exactly what happened. I started to sand them, and knew it was a mistake almost immediately.  :(

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Another option would be a gel stain. These will help you cover the existing issues and avoid brush strokes and running issues. I like old masters, which you can find at many paint stores.

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All good advise, above.

All I can suggest at this point is that you want the durability of a polyurathane top coat, consider a wipe-on formulation, like Arm-R-Seal from General Finishes, or thw Wipe-On products from Minwax. Application is dead simple - pour some in a bowl, fold up a piece of old t-shirt, dip it in the bowl and rub it on the wood. I like to apply thin coats this way, allowing them to dry 4 to 6 hours, then sand lightly with 400 grit and repeat until the desired film is built. Also, after covering each surface, wiping in a circular motion, fold the fairly saturated rag and drag the edge lightly along the grain to make any wiping marks disappear.

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Ok, making progress! Wiped down with the denatured alcohol.  No more dampness, but the color was still darker in the test section.  I sanded down the test section with 220, then 400 across the whole lid.  Cleaned off with the tack cloth,  and did a quick wipe down again with the denatured alcohol.  It is so much better. I am going to stain again,  using minwax red mahogany.  then try a rub-on poly for multiple light coats. I am having trouble attaching pics. Still working on it --

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