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I just completed building a china cabinet for my mother in law. It was suppose to be a Christmas gift, but after several set backs I don't think I'll have it finished in time to get the glass put in.

Anyway, I just applied the stain to a test board, and was very disappointed with how much the grain raised. I then whipped down another board with mineral spirits (which I was going to do to the cabinet before applying stain to remove dust) and again didn't like the way the grain raised.

Is there a finish I can apply to whiteoak that won't raise the grain so much? I'd hate to have to sand that much as it's a pretty big piece.
 

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The grain raising shouldn't be much of a issue unless you used a water based stain. Also if the wood isn't sanded enough you can have some roughness with the finish. If you would sand the wood to 220 grit or finer and use an oil based stain you should be very smooth. You should then be able to finish the china cabinet by the end of the week with an oil based polyurethane. If you have the means of spraying it would even go faster if you would use a lacquer finish.
 

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White oak is super open grained. Your issue may be more that the grain is so pronounced and open that it is lifted with any moisture whatsoever. May I suggest using a paste filler before you stain. Should help a lot.
 

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White oak is super open grained. Your issue may be more that the grain is so pronounced and open that it is lifted with any moisture whatsoever. May I suggest using a paste filler before you stain. Should help a lot.
White Oak is a closed grain wood not open. The growth ring pores are plugged with tyloses. This is why it's good for outdoor use, marine applications, and is resistant to rot and decay. White Oak will finish easily. I would use an oil based stain. With the time frame you have I would finish with a waterbased polyurethane. An oil base polyurethane may seem dry to the touch in a day or so, but may take several days to a week or longer to cure...for each application.

Waterbased polyurethane will dry fast, can be used in colder weather, will stay clear, and has an easier clean up. You could likely get your finish applied in a day or so.

As for grain raising, that is minimal, and gets sanded as any finish would between applications.





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Commercially available white oak is hybrid so it grows faster and can be harvested much sooner. As a result the growth rings are spaced much further apart than in natural growth. So you're probably right in a technical sense, but I have to disagree with you on practicality. I have dealt with this very issue recently on multiple projects. The most simple solution was paste filler. It filled the open pores in the wood and made the sealer lay nice and flat. Clearly the OP is having an issue with this, or he would not have posted, no?
 

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Commercially available white oak is hybrid so it grows faster and can be harvested much sooner. As a result the growth rings are spaced much further apart than in natural growth. So you're probably right in a technical sense, but I have to disagree with you on practicality. I have dealt with this very issue recently on multiple projects. The most simple solution was paste filler. It filled the open pores in the wood and made the sealer lay nice and flat. Clearly the OP is having an issue with this, or he would not have posted, no?
White Oak (Quercus Alba) is not a hybrid, and has no hybrids, although some other oaks do. The OP may not want to use a paste wood filler, as it can give a different look and feel to the finish. In using a oil base stain, the resins in the stain help with grain raising, versus a waterbased stain. An NGR type aniline dye (methanol based) would not raise the grain.

For some that are getting into finishing, the grain raising may seem more problematic than it really is.










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Don't worry about whatever grain raising you are seeing. Go ahead and apply the first coat of finish, that locks the fibers in place...then sand it smooth and go on with whatever is next. You will likely have to smooth the dust nibs out anyway, so this is a no extra effort kind of thing.
 

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If you can look at an oak board and tell me the exact species, ill eat my hat. The term "white oak" - while being a species in itself - is used generically to describe 7 or 8 deferent species of oak that are all sold as "white oak".

4 cents spent on this discussion lol
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'll pick up some oiled based stain tonight and apply that to my test boards. Thanks for the suggestion.
 

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My personal opinion...the dramatic grain in oak is one of the things that make it so appealing to so many people. While it may bother you, she'll probably love it.
 

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Hand plane it next time, grain won't raise at all. Other than that stick to oil based and you'll be fine. Or you can wet the wood with a damp cloth before staining and lightly sand off the raised grain, that helps a lot.
 
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