Splotchy cedar chest- help! - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 10 Old 10-12-2014, 04:35 PM Thread Starter
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Splotchy cedar chest- help!

I have a family cedar chest I was refinishing. I sanded the entire thing then stained it with Varathane premium interior woodstain. Then I used Varasthane polyurethane interior water based heavy use formula and applied 5 coats. I sanded between the 3rd and 4th coats since it had been 24 hours like the can says. Now I finally had time to do a last coat and it had been a week and I go look at it and the stain is very splotchy. It is more towards the edges. My only idea is because it has been cool here at night, into the low 40's but it has been in the garage. I thought the clear coat was dry by the time it got cold. I have already spent so much time working on it that I just don't know how to remedy it. The picture attached is what it looks like now that it has gotten blotchy.

What did I do wrong? And how do it fix it?
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post #2 of 10 Old 10-12-2014, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by tayfiend View Post
I have a family cedar chest I was refinishing. I sanded the entire thing then stained it with Varathane premium interior woodstain. Then I used Varasthane polyurethane interior water based heavy use formula and applied 5 coats. I sanded between the 3rd and 4th coats since it had been 24 hours like the can says. Now I finally had time to do a last coat and it had been a week and I go look at it and the stain is very splotchy. It is more towards the edges. My only idea is because it has been cool here at night, into the low 40's but it has been in the garage. I thought the clear coat was dry by the time it got cold. I have already spent so much time working on it that I just don't know how to remedy it. The picture attached is what it looks like now that it has gotten blotchy.

What did I do wrong? And how do it fix it?
look like you didn't get all the old finish off, did you use a chemical remover or just sanded, if you just sanded that is why, and is this airmatic cedar ? if so this should be red ?? look like you need to start over and use a chemial remover to get all this off and than their may still be some left in the grain, is this veneer or solad wood ? if veneer watch and don't sand thro, when you stained is that a poly with stain mixed in ? if so i wouldn't use that myself , i would use just a stain, and wipe it off and let it set at 2 day's , that is what i do, look's like you got a job ahead of you, this is blotching which is where stain doesn't go on even more soak's in where no hard grain is and soft grain take's more stain, shealic may be used but i don't get into that, i use a different way to do my item's, i use spray lacquer from a HVLP unit and not rattle can's, good luck also that doesn't look like cedar to me
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post #3 of 10 Old 10-12-2014, 07:17 PM Thread Starter
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I sanded it all down using 100/180/280 and it looked pretty solid. I will attach a picture of what it looked like after the 3 coats of finish from last week. It is only after it sat for a week that it turned blotchy. It is a cavalier brand chest, and the finish is reddish looking originally and on other pieces I have done. Also I hand sanded the entire thing because in the past chemical stripper has done very little to help the process for me. I used just a stain and then just a quick dry polyurethane finish in satin. I stain wait 24 hours and then use the poly to do 5-7 coats, which is the same process I have used on. A few other pieces. It is all veneer, the interior is cedar.
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post #4 of 10 Old 10-12-2014, 09:14 PM
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First, I think that you meant to post this question in the wood finishing forum instead of the woodturning forum.

It is clear that the wood wasn't sanded enough to remove the old finish. I also suspect that the exterior is a veneer of something other than cedar unless it is the stain that is the reason that it doesn't look like cedar.

If the exterior is cedar then you need to know that cedar is a soft and porous wood and the old finish has penetrated deeply into the wood. Additionally, like other softer woods, cedar does not take stain evenly and while there are ways to help with even stain absorption, staining cedar is not the best approach in my personal opinion. I would have suggested a one pound cut of dewaxed shellac on the bare wood followed by Varathane oil based poly thinned 50-50 with naphtha and wiped on with a soft lint free cotton rag. The shellac should be used first because the natural oils in cedar will react with the poly and sometimes keep it from curing and other times cause it to soften after it has hardened.

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post #5 of 10 Old 10-12-2014, 09:26 PM Thread Starter
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Bill, the exterior is veneer and I am not sure the type but the interior is cedar. Any way to remedy this?
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post #6 of 10 Old 10-12-2014, 09:39 PM
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The chest is a mixture of walnut and mahogany veneer. The trim was probably done with poplar. There is no way to really tell from the picture. It is blotchy because it wasn't stripped. Sanding a finish off is alright for refinishing a car but furniture needs paint and varnish remover. From where you are I would strip the chest off. This time of year that might be difficult. Removers don't do well below 70 degrees.

More than likely the original finish was lacquer. I believe Stripease Remover would do a good job for you. I normally use Kleen Strip remover but Stripease works better for lacquer. No one remover is good for all finishes. If one doesn't do it for you try a different brand. With any remover be sure to thoroughly rinse the residue off. I use a power washer less than 1500 psi for that purpose. You can also use lacquer thinner. Removers contain wax which can interfere with the adhesion of the new finish. Sanding doesn't get it off. It just rubs it in.
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post #7 of 10 Old 10-12-2014, 09:56 PM
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If it looked ok before your last coat, the weather may have had something to do with it. 40 degrees is pretty low.......

Before you decide to strip it, wipe the blushed area lightly in a small area with a cloth dampened with denatured alcohol. Wipe gently and do not use a lot of force. Wet the area with the alcohol and wait until it evaporates. Wipe another light coat of alcohol over the blushed area if the blushing remains after the first application. If the blushing doesn't go away, then you will need to strip the finish. You might get lucky if it will work on waterbase, but I would try that before anything else.
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post #8 of 10 Old 10-12-2014, 10:05 PM
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Now that i think about it, it might be your finishing schedule. Did you use a varathane oil based stain??? Using a water based top coat over a heavy oil based stain. When the top coat is applied, the oil in the stain seeps up through the finish and reacts with the acrylic causing a chemical blush. To prevent this, use a quick drying water based stain. If you choose to use oil based stain, seal the stain with a coat of shellac or lacquer sealer. This will provide a barrier between the oil and the acrylic. Proper drying time between the oil stain and finish coats is essential! The other cause for blushing is high humidity. Spraying water based finish in humidities of over 75% may cause blushing because moisture becomes trapped beneath the finish and cannot evaporate. You can prevent this condition by increasing air movement in the finishing area with a fan. All water needs to evaporate is sufficient air movement. You can also improve drying conditions by increasing the temperature in the drying area.

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post #9 of 10 Old 10-12-2014, 11:10 PM Thread Starter
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So what it sounds like I need to do is strip off my polyurethane finish? Then do I start over with sanding, staining, and then clear coat? I will have to wait until spring or work in the basement possibly. I am fairly certain my stain was water based and I am sure my clear coat was. I do have some stripper I will have to check what kind as well as the wash solution for after I strip. My last project it seemed like it hardly did anything but it turned out very nice, unlike this. So we think it can be salvaged? I just need to start over? This is only my second project ever so any advice is appreciated.
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post #10 of 10 Old 10-12-2014, 11:56 PM
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What I'm seeing as the dark areas is the old finish that wasn't removed. Sometimes a problem like that doesn't really show until you get a number of coats on to where you see it.

The project can be salvaged however it will need to be stripped and sanded before you finish it. When you sand it the next time, between grit changes wipe it down with water. The water will raise the grain and make your sanding more effective. If you watch the color with water on it, it will also let you know if their is still some of the old finish on it. If there is the old finish present in spots it won't really take the water. There will be color differences and will let you know some more sanding or perhaps stripping is warranted.

The problem you are experiencing would be far worse if you were staining the piece dark. With the old finish on it you would have spots that wouldn't stain. It's very important when refinishing you completely remove the old finish first even if you have to strip it more than once. I have a door in my shop right now that had several different kinds of finishes on it and I've had to strip it four times with three different removers before I got it clean to my satisfaction.
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