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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
A painter/carpenter built a desk for me and stained it. Not really impressed with the finish quality, pictures attached. Where did he go wrong? I'm reluctant to ask him to fix it, if he's really not capable. He did one coat of a sanding sealer and one coat of poly.

The desk top is plywood. And just to be clear, it's the streaks in the right picture that are most obvious to me. There may be other flaws that are obvious to you. :)
 

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Is that solid wood or plywood? To me, it looks like it wasn't sanded smooth enough and the first pix looks like something was on the surface where the stain was applied.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The top is plywood. I've edited the original post to indicate that.

My eventual question will be how to fix it. I was already unhappy with the smoothness...the shelves have a very rough feel. I bought a can of wipe on poly to apply a few more coats with some sanding before I noticed the poor condition of the desktop.

Thanks
 

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Actually it may not have been his fault. Much of the plywood made today is pretty crummy. They leave marks like that in the plywood when they make it and the veneer is normally so thin nobody can sand it out without sanding the veneer off. In hindsight he could have sprayed a dye stain instead of using an oil stain and had better luck but there is no way of knowing it until it's too late. I could picture having that happen to me finishing however I would have tried to fix it instead of sealing and finishing it. From where you are you might strip the finish off with some lacquer thinner, sand it a little and finish it with a gel stain to subdue the lateral lines.
 

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The bottom picture looks like a built-in, with very sloppy work. Based on that I am guessing that you will find many issues with the work.

If your skill level is not at least intermediary I would recommend finding a professional to refinish.

George
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
"I would have tried to fix it instead of sealing and finishing it."

That actually is my main complaint; he didn't see that there was a problem that needed to be fixed.

Everyone says to use lacquer thinner outside the house and this thing is built in, so I'm hesitant to go that route. The surface of the wood is so rough that I wouldn't have known there was a poly coat if I hadn't seen him apply it. Splinters are a real possibility if I rub my hand across the top. I was wondering of the feasibility of a light sanding followed by a gel stain followed by a few coats of wipe on poly. I wouldn't mind toning down the red a bit anyway.

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The bottom picture looks like a built-in, with very sloppy work. Based on that I am guessing that you will find many issues with the work. If your skill level is not at least intermediary I would recommend finding a professional to refinish.
Yes, built-in, and I thought it looked a bit sloppy to my unskilled eyes. I thought there should be some moulding between the desk and walls, but he was resistant to the idea for some reason. And he used 1x3s for the edging of the associated book case, rather than the 1x2s I provided and I though they looked too heavy.

I'm hoping that once the walls are painted and the desk is loaded with computer equipment, the flaws won't be noticeable.

And no, I'm not an intermediate; I've stained about five items in my life. But they all looked better than this. :)

Thanks.
 

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"I would have tried to fix it instead of sealing and finishing it."

That actually is my main complaint; he didn't see that there was a problem that needed to be fixed.

Everyone says to use lacquer thinner outside the house and this thing is built in, so I'm hesitant to go that route. The surface of the wood is so rough that I wouldn't have known there was a poly coat if I hadn't seen him apply it. Splinters are a real possibility if I rub my hand across the top. I was wondering of the feasibility of a light sanding followed by a gel stain followed by a few coats of wipe on poly. I wouldn't mind toning down the red a bit anyway.

Thanks
OK the deal with the lacquer thinner is it is very flamable. It's almost like washing the desk down with gasoline. It can safely be done but you have to open the windows and turn anything off with an open flame near to where you are working. If you don't have sufficient ventilation it can also give you a major buzz. I stripped the finish off kitchen cabinets many times and used lacquer thinner to wash the residue off. Unlike gasoline lacquer thinner evaporates quick and the vapors go away pretty quickly. It also helps if you put window fans blowing in at the other end of the house to create a air flow going out.

The condition the finish is in, if it were me I would take the poly off. It will also lighten the existing color so it would minimize the lateral lines it has now so it would be easier to cover up. If I had stained it and found the lateral lines I would have washed it down with lacquer thinner and tried to even the color out with a spray on dye stain or toner.

If you want to tone down the red you could coat over the wood with some green dye or add green dye to the gel stain. Green will neutralize red. Just go easy with the green. It only takes a little.
 

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The cross grain lines are fabrication indentations from laminating the veneers. Not much you can do about it. You can't sand it out. More than likely doing any finish will still show those lines. You could just sand it flat, even though you will go through the veneer, and then just veneer the top. Or re-do the finish and add a piece of glass.







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A painter/carpenter built a desk for me and stained it. Not really impressed with the finish quality, pictures attached. Where did he go wrong? I'm reluctant to ask him to fix it, if he's really not capable. He did one coat of a sanding sealer and one coat of poly.

The desk top is plywood. And just to be clear, it's the streaks in the right picture that are most obvious to me. There may be other flaws that are obvious to you. :)
i haven't read any post's but that is blotching which plywood is the worst wood for that, the soft wood take's on more stain than the hard wood does so that is what you get, their should been a blotch control put on before, maybe he didn't do that?? what this u-tube video and you will see what blotch is
 

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i haven't read any post's but that is blotching which plywood is the worst wood for that, the soft wood take's on more stain than the hard wood does so that is what you get, their should been a blotch control put on before, maybe he didn't do that??
Red Oak doesn't blotch. Do you get a commission on that stuff?:laughing:




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Ok, I think I will start moving in this direction. Thanks for the reassurance on the lacquer thinner. I was really more concerned with brain damage than fire. :)

Thanks for your help.
I got a major buzz on lacquer thinner one time. I had a 55 gallon drum of thinner in my shop where we refilled 5 gallon cans. One of my employees put a can under it and went off somewhere. I walked into the paint room and there was probably 5 gallons run out on the floor. I just saw dollars going out the spicket so I ran to turn it off but when I got there is was slicker than snot and I landed in the middle of it. I knew I was in for a chemical burn so I got up and ran to the restroom to get out of the clothes I was wearing. There I was trapped in that little restroom with those wet cloths it took long for them to dry enough I could put them back on. By the time I got out of there I was totally stoned.
 

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Red Oak doesn't blotch. Do you get a commission on that stuff?:laughing:








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the last pic doesn't look like oak to me ? he said The desk top is plywood and you know plywood , that is what i was going buy i have use this blotch control on oak and their is a difference when you use stain with oak. also it sure works on other wood's , poplar their sure is , i don't try and make it like a walnut or cherry buy somtimes a person want's to use it and change the color . my 2 cents no charles doesn't give a discont, just thought some one may have a use for it beside's me, or you can use shellac ? thanks for the replay
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I landed in the middle of it.
If you survived all that and can still write complete sentences, then I guess a little finish removing won't cripple me too badly, then.

I ordered the green dye from Rockler. When you say "a little", are we talking a drop or two per 8 oz can?

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Perhaps the best solution is just to paint the blasted thing to my trim color. That would eliminate any problem trying to match the stain if I wanted to add any moulding.
 

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It looks and sounds to me that he didn't use a paste-type pore filler or epoxy to fill the pores and therefore it feels rough. I also think he should have used a very light sanding prior to filling the pores, which I don't think he did. A past stain and varnish would have also been good to match the color, but I personally don't like using past stain varnish mix. The first picture looks like the varnish was applied unevenly and dried with waves. The last thing he could have done was to use a past wax, which I do like as a finished coat.

The question comes, how to fix it? Very carefully!

I don't know how you can properly fix it since I believe you will need to take it down to the raw wood. I don't know how you can do that without the chance of ruining the plywood. I would have an experienced professional refinish it.

Sent from my iPhone using Wood Forum
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
since I believe you will need to take it down to the raw wood.
That's what I was afraid of. The quality of workmanship probably isn't worth putting too much more money into this project. Paint seems like the best option. The associated bookshelf would be a much bigger pain to refinish than this slab of a desk.

Thanks for the input.
 
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