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Jeannine

Advice needed for sanding

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Hi there! I need some advice for sanding a dining wood table- the grain goes in all different directions and when I sanded by hand I could see scratches after applying the gel stain. I did go with the grain in different directions and I sanded with a 220 AFTER the gel stain :(. Can I try another coat of gel stain?

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Welcome to the forum.

Sanding is not hard but is easy to screw up.   The shinier the finish the more scratches become visible.  Woith bare wood -Start with the finest grit that will take any existing scratches out and the progress through the grits until  you get to your final desired bare wood smoothness.  Biggest mistakes are skipping a grit or not sanding enough with each of the grits (ie leaving scratch marks frm the previous grit)  If I were starting with 80 grit, I would prgress through 80 -120-150-220-320-400.  Start with any grit and end with any grit, depending on your project but don't skip any in between.  And be sure to sand enough with each grit to remove the marks from the previous grit.  ( It is not unusual for scratch marks to show up during the finishing process that you could not see before). 

With your varying grain direction I would suggest using a random orbital sander.

With your varying grain direction I would suggest using a random orbital sander.  You don't mention what the final finish would be so I assume that it will be a polyurethane varnish or a wiping varnish - a nice smooth finish but not super shiny.

Another coat of stain will not correct the scratches.  Unfortunately you need to go back to sanding.  I would not use 200 grit after staining.  That's too coarse.   After staining (unless you are doing some special effects) all you want to do is smooth out any wood fibers that have been raised by the stain.  I would lightly use 320 ro 400 grit. By hand.

The people on this forum have a  lot of experience and will, no doubt have some additional thoughts.

Again, welcome.

 

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Ron gives good advise!

Random orbit sander..  Progress through the grits 120, 150, 180, 220.  Each progression removes the scratches from the last grit.

I use 400 grit to block out between coats.  Since this is only working on the finish and not the wood, I use a block and sand very lightly.  This is only to remove dust nibs or, perhaps, a slightly raised grain.

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Before electric sanders.... you'll probably need many grits low to high. You'll need a high grit like 1000. Towards the end to not see the scratches from the provides grits. A lot of work but you can go through thin veneer if  not careful.

 

#1...is the table newly built or just refinishing an old table?

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35 minutes ago, Wimayo said:

Be very careful. When you have a top with grain running all different directions (like puzzle pieces?) separated with straight or curved edges, it is likely that you have thin veneer. It is very easy to sand through the veneer and expose the sub-straight. Then the top will be very difficult to repair. A photo might help us some.

Very true. I missed that.

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THANK YOU so much for all of the great responses. Everyone is such a judge help!!! Here are some pictures. The brown is the original- it is the leaf of the table that I did not do yet- try not to cringe at what I have done! Lol 

57F64AFB-8811-4D86-AF2E-9C16EA8D286B.jpeg

5D1BD60B-5C82-429C-9734-E0E4585BAC6E.jpeg

E7F41659-B410-4D80-9771-E89082E1342E.jpeg

C70FBEF4-9D29-45C3-80D4-CBD8407E0B37.jpeg

AFA1BE9F-DF2C-4184-BEAA-9389D3AF542B.jpeg

248ABBB0-264E-4FC7-AC7F-E9379C4DCA9D.jpeg

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Whew, you've got some work ahead of you.   But here is where your patience has to come to the forefront.  All the above advise is excellent. But take your time, and go to the highest grit of sandpaper you can buy.  A 1000 grit is not unreasonable.  But be careful. If it's veneer, the odds of sanding through it is quite high.  Should that happen, you might consider buying a table that's solid wood.

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Yes - I think it is veneer but I didn’t think it was until you said that- now I’m thinking I should paint it?  Unless the 1000 grit would work- any more suggestions based on the fact that it’s a veneer 

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So, the dark color is the end goal? And you just haven't done the leaf yet, correct?

While the close-up of the 'chip' at the corner of the leaf isn't 100% conclusive, I do see the grain lines continuing through it. The leads me to believe that piece is solid wood, not veneer. Given that the table appears to be of red oak, an abundant and inexpensive hardwood, chances are good that it is all solid. I feel pretty confident that you can sand it thoroughly without worry.

Is the 'gel stain' product you used one that includes color AND final finish (like Minwax Polyshades), or is it color only? The images show scratches that APPEAR to be just in the finish, but since you sanded after applying the gel stain, they could be masking deeper scratches in the wood.

IMO, using a random-orbit sander will help you tremendously. If this is a one-time project, you can buy one from Harbor Freight tools for around $30 to minimize your investment. It will get the job done as well as any, but don't expect it to last forever. And keep the receipt, as HF tools sometimes fail to work out of the box, but their return pokicy is good.

Anyway, I would try starting with 320 grit on the part that is already stained, and work to higher grits, to see if smoothing the finish itself cures the problem. Use light pressure on the sander, it can still remove finish to bare wood quickly.

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If it is soid wood, you will see the same wood on the underside.  If you do, that's wonderful because the underside is a great place to practice or test what you want to do.   Now that I see some pics, your ares of various grain direction are not to small to deal with by hand.  Most of your scratches that I see are not parallel to the grain.  When sanding by hand stay with the grain.

Another thought,  Gel stain is a wipe on, wipe off product and is not meant to be applied in thick coats.  Thin coats only and if you sand after a stain coat it should be very lighlty with a high grit.

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I tend to agree with wtnhighlander. However, sorry for my paranoia. I have made this mistake and would like to help you keep from making it. Just to be sure about the veneer, if you can find a manufacturer's label or stamp (probably on the underside of the top), you could contact them to see if it is actually a veneer. Also, try looking at the very edge where the leaves join one another with strong magnifying lens (a 10x jewelers loop works well) look to see if you can see a telltale "layering" or glue line separating the substrate from the veneer. Sometimes this is obvious even to the naked eye.

One thing that could be misleading is that even if the main part of the top is veneer, it is quite possible that the edge boards (where the damaged area is) are solid. The bullnosed edge would be a strong indicator of that. So, don't let the appearance of the damage spot tell you anything about the rest of the table surface. Also, the fact of the edge board which is cross-grain to the central part of the table is a very strong indicator that the top is veneered. Because of wood movement issues under changing temp/humidity conditions, no knowledgeable wood worker or manufacturer would do that with solid wood. Of course, they could be assembled as breadboard ends. I doubt it.  I would wager that the edge boards are solid wood and the central part is veneered particle board or MDF.

I must respectfully disagree with Ronn W. The table I almost ruined had the same veneer on the bottom and that is why I almost ruined it. And, it is common for good quality veneered furniture to be veneered on both sides for stability. However, he makes a good point about using the underside to experiment. I suggest that you use a small chisel to gouge a small hole in the bottom of one of the table leaves. Go about 3/16" to 1/4" deep and make sure you have a clean smooth cut on the side. If you find solid wood (oak) without a veneer, this would be a good sign but no guarantee. If you find particle board or MDF under a veneer, you can be sure it is also a veneered top. If you are still unsure, try taking a leaf to a local woodworking shop and see if they can make the determination for you. Pay them for their time.

Please let us know how it works out. Good luck.

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Seems like a look at the edges where the leaf meets the main part of the table might help with determining whether it's veneer or solid.

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@Wimayo makes a good point about the cross-grain construction. The smaller edge pieces are very likely solid, but the larger central field may be veneered. In some cases, there may be a veneered 'show face', even if the core is the same species, but of a lower grade. I've seen this done with oak, for sure.

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