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bzguy
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581 Posts
There is almost certainly a clear-coat lacquer or varnish applied over the stain.
This is what chips, peels, etc., what you normally want to remove.
Strip it off with a stripper or lacquer thinner, apply with brush, wipe off with rags, lightly sand evenly with fine grit in order to not mar the stained surface, which penetrates somewhat into the wood.
If you also want to change this color, you are in for a lot of difficult sanding, especially if they are raised panels or any design with recesses.
Consider stripping just the finish and re-applying clear coat of your choice, spray for best results.
 

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bzguy
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581 Posts
Thanks for the input. I think this will be easier than normal as I believe the original stain job was done by the previous homeowner. They left brush marks and was overall not very well done and from taking the doors down, it appears the cabinets had some sort of clear coat that was not sanded before the staining was done. I am sure once I get started I will feel like the project seemed easier than what I am thinking, but heading in with full optimism!
If it was done backwards as you describe, clear-coated then stained, the stain is sitting on the surface.
You will be able to strip all the stain off also and start over.
You'll have to meticulously sand consistently to get the new stain applied evenly.
 
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