Botched Stain Job - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 10 Old 12-15-2017, 12:01 PM Thread Starter
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Botched Stain Job

Hi, Iím staining a table with General water-based ďEspressoĒ, and I really messed up good. This is the top, Doug fir ply with solid edges. As you can see from the pics, it came out really blotchy, especially at the overlap spots (I did the 7í length in three or four sections).

Iím looking for any advice on how I can salvage this, hopefully! I can afford to go a bit darker to blend out the splotches. Need suggestions on process and technique, as clearly finishing is something Iím terrible at!

Thanks so much!




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post #2 of 10 Old 12-15-2017, 12:33 PM
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This is a very good example of an uneven stain. It looks as if you stained it in sections rather than staining it all at once. I think it can be improved by lightly sanding the darker areas with 220 grit sandpaper and re-staining with the same stain using a rag instead of a brush and allowing the stain to set a few minutes before wiping off. Wipe from one to the other in long strokes. Donít stop and restart in the middle of wiping.
If you still have blotching after a second application you can use a Toner in a rattle can to even it out.
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If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #3 of 10 Old 12-15-2017, 12:41 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toolman50 View Post
This is a very good example of an uneven stain. It looks as if you stained it in sections rather than staining it all at once. I think it can be improved by lightly sanding the darker areas with 220 grit sandpaper and re-staining with the same stain using a rag instead of a brush and allowing the stain to set a few minutes before wiping off. Wipe from one to the other in long strokes. Donít stop and restart in the middle of wiping.

If you still have blotching after a second application you can use a Toner in a rattle can to even it out.


Thanks so much Toolman. So Iím not dead in the water then? Thatís a relief.

Ok, Iím going to try this. I did use a rag for the whole process. But I applied in circular motion THEN went straight with the grain to rub it in/wipe off excess. Looks like I probably should have gone straight from the beginning...

As for doing it all at once, my fear was that it would start drying, that I couldnít work fast enough to get back to the beginning if I didnít break it up into sections. But obviously the proof is in the pudding...I ended up the terrible splotches at each overlap.

When you initially flood it, how much wiping is advisable? Is it just get it on there as quickly and evenly as possible, then hurry back to rub it in?


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post #4 of 10 Old 12-15-2017, 02:37 PM
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I see a couple different reasons. The wood was sanded with too coarse paper. You can see swirl marks all over it. This makes the wood absorb the stain more. Then fir is one of those woods which has hard and soft places making it stain blotchy. On those woods a wood conditioner should be used to make the surface more uniform before staining.

From where you are you can either sand the stain off of use paint stripper. The stain will gum up on the sandpaper badly ruining the paper so it's going to be a lot of work either way you do it. After you sand the wood with coarse paper dampen the wood with water and let it dry. This will make the grain raise making your sanding more effective. Then sand it again with 180 to 220 grit paper and then proceed with the finish.

When you stain you would have more open time if you used an oil based stain. Water base stains tend to dry almost immediately. This makes it difficult to do a long piece like that. It would be helpful if you could apply the stain and wipe it off from one end to the other. That way you don't have spots where you start and stop.
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post #5 of 10 Old 12-15-2017, 07:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TimeTurnsElastic View Post
Thanks so much Toolman. So Iím not dead in the water then? Thatís a relief.

Ok, Iím going to try this. I did use a rag for the whole process. But I applied in circular motion THEN went straight with the grain to rub it in/wipe off excess. Looks like I probably should have gone straight from the beginning...

As for doing it all at once, my fear was that it would start drying, that I couldnít work fast enough to get back to the beginning if I didnít break it up into sections. But obviously the proof is in the pudding...I ended up the terrible splotches at each overlap.

When you initially flood it, how much wiping is advisable? Is it just get it on there as quickly and evenly as possible, then hurry back to rub it in?


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You may not be dead in the water but you have swallowed a lot of water so far on this one.
As Steve suggested in his post, an oil based stain is more forgiving and usually gives us more work time. Since youíve started with a water based stain I now suggest you continue with it. Mixing two types of stain could make things even more complicated. Be sure to stir the stain thoroughly.
When sanding a top itís best to block sand by hand to get an even, flat surface.
The water based stain will not gum up your sandpaper as bad as an oil based stain but you will still get gumming. Free-cut sandpaper is best for this.
When sanding, I like to make some me pencil marks across the top. When you sand off the pencil mark you havenít sanded deep but you know youíve sanded. I wouldnít use an electric sander at this point. Only block sand (sandpaper wrapped around a flat board or block). Hang in there. Mastering finish techniques can be every bit as challenging as mastering woodworking itself.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #6 of 10 Old 12-16-2017, 10:04 AM
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Todayís ply has a very thin surface ply, so care must be take to avoid sanding through it.


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post #7 of 10 Old 12-16-2017, 03:09 PM
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The General Finishes website has pretty good video tutorials. You might get some insight from those.
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post #8 of 10 Old 12-16-2017, 05:15 PM Thread Starter
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At this point I do not think I can sand the ply any further. I am already almost through the veneer.

Is it possible to stain over this and try to blend in?

Argh. I should have followed my gut and used oil based.


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post #9 of 10 Old 12-16-2017, 05:28 PM
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Don't bother removing the stain. Use gel stain over the water base stain. I believe the equivalent General gel stain would be Java(check to be sure). The gel stain will even out the color. Doug fir is notorious for splotching and gel stain will prevent that.
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post #10 of 10 Old 12-16-2017, 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by TimeTurnsElastic View Post
At this point I do not think I can sand the ply any further. I am already almost through the veneer.

Is it possible to stain over this and try to blend in?

Argh. I should have followed my gut and used oil based.


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There are some things that would help a little but nothing is going to blend it in where it doesn't look blotchy. Since you think you are close to sanding through the veneer I would recommend using paint stripper to take the stain off. Afterward only the most minor sanding is needed. Mostly because it will raise the grain.
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