Finish Problem - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 7 Old 10-11-2014, 05:30 PM Thread Starter
Junior Member
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 3
View mikemccloskey's Photo Album My Photos
Finish Problem

I have a large custom made (40 years old) oak dining table that I decided to refinish after so many years of use. I stripped the old finish off with Formby's then sanded down to bare wood at 220. I applied several coats of Minwax dark walnut stain then hand wiped 5-6 coats of Minwax oil based poly (50/50 mixed with mineral spirits) by hand with a rag.

I'm disappointed in the result and wanted to see what y'all would say. When applying the stain, I was not able to get it as dark as I wanted it. the original finish was very dark. I have run into this problem on previous projects - not being able to get it as dark as I wanted. I was wondering if the solution to this would be to add stain to the finish.

The other issue is that the finish looks plastiky. I used high gloss for all but the final coat and used satin for the final coat. I wanted a satiny, oiled look but didn't get it.

Any thoughts on my problems?


Last edited by mikemccloskey; 10-11-2014 at 05:41 PM.
mikemccloskey is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 7 Old 10-11-2014, 06:35 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 25,995
View Steve Neul's Photo Album My Photos
First of all you should never apply several coats of oil stain. If you manage to create a layer of stain on the surface the poly will adhere to the stain instead of the wood and peal off. I suspect since you are describing the finish with a plastic appearance you have done just that. If you could post a picture perhaps one of us can tell. Still even if you don't build a layer of stain you will so saturate the wood with stain it would take a week or more to dry and that alone can cause adhesion problems. The thing to do is try the stain on the underside of the table or someplace inconspicious and if it isn't dark enough try another stain or method. You could stain with wood with a dye stain and then finish the job with an oil stain. Another method is if you used a different brand than Minwax you could add colorant to the stain to make it darker. The wood stain Sherwin Williams sells is one you can add color to it and they will do it for you. It's the color in their machines to mix paint. With most dark stains it's black and either raw umber or red oxide you need. The red oxide will make it more brown where the raw umber will be a more earth-tone color. The colorant won't suspend in Minwax stains. It will just go to the bottom of the can.

That was a good preceedure to finish with gloss until the last coat. The flattening agents in a satin finish can make the appearance cloudy.
Steve Neul is offline  
post #3 of 7 Old 10-11-2014, 09:06 PM
Wood Snob
Al B Thayer's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 5,963
View Al B Thayer's Photo Album My Photos
I'm with Steve on this one. But I would also add. Using any kind of poly will never look like oiled. If I had a nickel for all the threads about less than desirable results with poly I'd quit my day job. There is no reason a desk requires such a finish.

Also your wood might still contain some of the old finish. Thereby not allowing the new stain to soak in keeping you from producing a darker color. These stains contain some type of sealer so after the first coat your not going to get much more stain to penetrate.

If the finish is dry. I'd try to rub it out to get a satin look and dull the plastic. Best of luck


Al B Thayer is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #4 of 7 Old 10-11-2014, 10:18 PM Thread Starter
Junior Member
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 3
View mikemccloskey's Photo Album My Photos
Thanks for the comments guys. I don't think I have an adhesion problem (I hope), I let it dry for close to a week before the poly. Since the table gets daily dining use, I wanted something durable - so poly. Al, rather than poly what direction would you have gone? When you suggest to rub it out - with what?
It doesn't look bad, just not what I wanted. Trying to decide if I am going to strip it again and start over.
Thanks again.
mikemccloskey is offline  
post #5 of 7 Old 10-12-2014, 03:01 AM
Village Idiot
epicfail48's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Springfield MO
Posts: 4,903
View epicfail48's Photo Album My Photos
Originally Posted by mikemccloskey View Post
When you suggest to rub it out - with what?
Wet sanding with some high grit paper works fine to dull the poly out, but be warned, itll just look like hazy plastic. Im with the other guys, poly sucks for a lot of applications. Its chemically a plastic, so itll look plasticky and usually doesnt have the nice wet high gloss look some other finishes have. But, and this is a big but, its one of the better finishes to have on a dining table due to its durability.

Honestly, if it were me and i wasnt satisfied with how the finish looked, id take it off and start over, which may be what you have to do. Againm, this is just my opinion, id go down to bare wood and try a different, darker stain. Ive never found a wood stain that gets darker with multiple applications, and like the other guys mentioned, multiple coats can cause finish adhesion issues. Id also recommend sticking with gloss poly all the way through. I know, you wanted a satin look, but to me satin poly just highlights the fact that poly looks just like plastic. At least with a full gloss its shiney enough to forget.

As a last ditch method, you might try putting a coat of paste wax on what youve already finished. May get you a bit closer to that wet look. Good luck

I need cheaper hobby
epicfail48 is offline  
post #6 of 7 Old 10-12-2014, 07:29 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 25,995
View Steve Neul's Photo Album My Photos
Really if the finish is giving the plastic look the problem is it's on too thick. To keep the finish from looking plastic with any film finish it's best to keep it as thin as possible. I don't know of any fix to a finish that is already on too thick. A person could try to take an orbital sander with 220 paper and try to remove as much as possible however they would be more likely to sand through the finish.
Steve Neul is offline  
post #7 of 7 Old 10-12-2014, 09:31 AM
Senior Member
RandyReed's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 1,311
View RandyReed's Photo Album My Photos
When you strip and sand down wood, the wood is still somewhat "sealed" from the previuos finish and will take stain differently than a new piece of wood will. It will look lighter because the wood is now more glass like.

If the color you was trying to get was not dark if enough even after several coats, then I would have just moved onto a different darker color. An espresso color was probably more in the ball park of what you needed to get the dark color.

5-6 coats of poly is way too much for the final look you was trying to achieve, even thinned 1:1. You should have probably brushed on a light coat of polyurethane varnish. Use long, even strokes, working in the direction of the grain. Once its dries, sand lightly with 320-grit sandpaper, then repeat and your done.

I feel even now if you sand down through the 5-6 coats as far as you can without luckily not sanding through, you will still end up looking "plastiky" because your table will look smooth as glass after sanding down and then having to apply another coat off your satin poly.

I also think your best option is to take the finish back off and start over. Remove all the finish, sand the top down with 150 in the direction of the grain, then I would use a wire brush (if your looking for that "grainy" look) and completely brush the entire top in the direction of the grain to try and open up the grain some, then come back with 240 and lightly sand the top in the direction of the grain. Try an espresso color on the underside of the table as Steve suggested and wipe some poly over it after the stain dries just to see if its close to a dark color that you are looking for. After you get the color right, apply it to the table top, then 2 coats of polyurethane varnish then see what you have. I think that will make the difference for you.
RandyReed is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Finish Problem TropicalGuyCns Wood Finishing 1 08-15-2014 07:39 AM
Problem with finish on oak counter Glen53 Wood Finishing 5 06-21-2012 08:49 AM
Finish Dry Problem in winter limipub Wood Finishing 6 02-23-2012 10:44 AM
Finish Repair Problem djg Wood Finishing 7 02-03-2012 02:13 PM
Need help on problem with finish blinn General Woodworking Discussion 8 01-31-2011 07:38 AM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome