Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Caye Caulker, Belize
Clear-coats like lacquer once sprayed on the surface will make the stain appear darker.
The stain has penetrated the wood to some degree, depending on what type.
Picture looks like clear finish is flaking off, leaving stain intact?
You could try stripping with lacquer thinner, which will dissolve most finishes.
Apply and keep it wet with rags until it has dissolved.
If you do not scratch the wood you shouldn't have to sand.
This may dissolve some of the stain on the surface also, make it penetrate more and lighten the wood in the process.
Maple is pretty well known for blotching when stains are wiped on.
I think you're correct in assuming this was a typical factory/production shop spray on stain and clear coat, probably lacquer or 2 part poly for quick drying/production time.
If you have a cup gun for stain? (mist on lightly until you get the desired color, and do not wipe, or it will blotch maple).
Then HVLP or an airless if you have access for final clear coat.
No one wanted to touch this? My 2 cents.