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I'm a weekend hack trying to refurbish an arcade cabinet with cedan red oak veneer on front and sides. I'm using a regular minwax stain. When wiping off stain on one of the sides, I used a microfiber cloth and I think that is the cause of some unevenness in the finish. My first attempt was just to wipe on/ wipe off another coat of stain, but it had little effect. My next instinct was lightly sand and start over on that side, but thought I should get a second opinion before I made it worse.

Attached are some pictures. Looking straight on, the finish actually looks pretty good, but looking edge-on, it's clear that something is messed up. Should I sand this down and try again? Can I get by with 220, or do I need to start coarser and work back up? Any other recommendations?
 

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where's my table saw?
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sanding does not "remove" stain

Stain penetrates the surface so it's difficult to remove by sanding. A chemical process is better. I would was the surface with lacquer thinner to even out the areas, then reapply the stain. Min Wax stains do not have a great reputation. I have used them successfully by mixing and blending my own colors. The wild grain of Oak will always have light and dark areas, but your issue look like a previous finish was not entirely removed. That may require a stripping agent OR the lacquer thinner may work. Try that first.

Also the veneer adhesive may have penetrated the back side of the sheet and will block the strain from penetrating the front side...assuming it is veneer. Assuming veneer, sanding may work through the thin layer and you will have a real issue.

If it's solid wood then you are better off in either case.
 

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Using a chemical stripper or lacquer thinner may not be the best way to start. It appears that those areas are areas of a particularly hard grain configuration. You might first try sanding the areas with 180x, and re-apply the stain. Wipe on and off with just a smooth lint free "T" shirt type material.

It may blend in with the surrounding areas. It's likely though, that even with stripping and sanding that those areas will continue to be lighter, due to their being more dense (harder). What you want to prevent is an overlap around the repair that could appear very defined.






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From what I can see the stain came out normal. Any sanding and re-staining would result in the color going blotchy. If you wish to subdue the wild grain then you need to strip the stain off with paint and varnish remover and perhaps bleach and start over. A dye stain will stain a bit more uniform but it really needs to be sprayed. If you didn't mind a darker color you could spray a dye over what you have and get much the same results.
 
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