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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am staining two dressers that have been in my wife's family since she was a baby. We are having our first child and wanted to refinish them.
- I sanded them down with 80 grit to get the old finish/laquer off.
-Then I went to 220 and got them smooth. Used mineral spirits to remove any dust.
-Used wood conditioner since the dressers are pine and then applied the first coat of stain.
-Let it sat for 20 minutes and repeated for total of 3 coats.
Now where something went wrong is after the first coat of Polyurathane was dry I used 220, dusted off the dresser with clean cloth and applied second coat. After a couple minutes I noticed certain spots appearing like I had taken the poly and stain off when I gave it a light sanding by hand but it was literally a light sanding no more then a minute on each side.
Here are some pics.
pic of the stain on a drawer compared to the old color before the poly

and picture of the weird spots

Any suggestions on what could have went wrong? Right now I am at the point where I think I have to just use some stripper and start over but was hoping to have this dress completed this week. The wife is due this month and time is running out
 

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It would be hard to say what happened. It generally isn't a good idea to sand an old finish off. You end up taking off what is on the surface and don't get what is penetrated into the wood. Any time you refinish you should start with paint and varnish remover. Then when you stain you should only stain one time and wipe off the excess. The bottom picture looks to me like there is some adverse reaction between the stain and the polyurethane. This may be due to the three coats of stain or if you used a water base polyurethane it isn't compatible with the linseed oil in the stain. If it was a water based polyurethane applying it over three coats of stain I think there should have been a week drying time between the stain and finish. Sometimes if you leave stain on the surface the finish will bond to the stain instead of the wood and peal off. This is why most stains should be wiped off. Another option for the incompatibility of the water based poly would have been to let it dry overnight and put a coat of a de-waxed shellac such as Zinsser Sealcoat as a barrier coat between the linseed oil and the poly. If it was an oil based poly it would have been compatible. I think the snow white places is sanding dust in crevasses. The more tan places I think are places where the finish didn't adhere. There could also have been places of furniture wax on the surface and sanding just rubbed it into the wood causing an adhesion problem. It's a good idea when working on old furniture that you clean it with a wax and grease remover prior to stripping.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
the stain and poly were both oil based minwax products. I just ran to the store and bought citristrip to see if I can start over:furious:
 

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the stain and poly were both oil based minwax products. I just ran to the store and bought citristrip to see if I can start over:furious:
citristrip is a pretty mild remover. Be sure you use a lot of patience and let the remover soak in good. Don't try to do the entire piece at once. Do one area at a time and keep the remover wet until the finish is ready to come off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
woops forgot to check this thread before I applied it lol. I suspect it will take more then one coat of the citristrip but was wondering if you can offer any advice on how to go about staining it once more one its good to go?
Also can you recommend a stronger stripper to remove the varnish on the second dresser once this one is stained?
 

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I use either Kleen Strip or Strypeeze removers. Both are methylene chloride type removers. The Kleen Strip remover I rinse the residue off with a power washer that is 1500 psi or lower. The Strypeeze doesn't rinse well with water. It cleans off better with lacquer thinner. It's very important to get either remover thoroughly rinsed off because both contain a wax that retards evaporation. Also I don't know what the temperature is where you are but no remover works well below 70 degrees. I normally suspend stripping furniture during the winter months. The fumes are harmful to keep closed up in a building and both of these are flammable as well.

As far as staining, since the wood is pine I would use a wood conditioner according to the label instructions and then use an oil stain. With a wood conditioner you may have to use a darker stain then you would otherwise and wipe the excess off. If it still isn't dark enough you can spray on an aniline dye or use a toner to supplement the color. I mostly use Mohawk Ultra Penetrating Stains for the aniline dye. They also sell toners in aerosol cans if you don't have the means of spraying. Just be sure to let the oil stain dry overnight before topcoating with poly. The Ultra Penetrating Stain if you use it only needs to dry two minutes.
 

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I would use an MC based stripper called "Aircraft Stripper" in a can (not a spray can). It's the strongest I've used sold at the box stores. I wouldn't use a power washer. It will raise the grain, blow out any repairs, and could tear out grain and loosen joints. If done, will have to be done outside, and the water blast will splash stripper everywhere and on yourself. Not good for grass, concrete, asphalt, or any plants/trees.






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I would use an MC based stripper called "Aircraft Stripper" in a can (not a spray can). It's the strongest I've used sold at the box stores. I wouldn't use a power washer. It will raise the grain, blow out any repairs, and could tear out grain and loosen joints. If done, will have to be done outside, and the water blast will splash stripper everywhere and on yourself. Not good for grass, concrete, asphalt, or any plants/trees.










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A water wash remover does the best in removing the old finish and the old stain. What little grain raising it does isn't any more than wiping the wood with a damp cloth. As far as tearing out the grain or loosening the joints that only happens in your imagination. It does need to be done outside unless someone has a rinse tank but unless you are doing it on an industrial scale does nothing to grass or trees. As far as blowing the stripper on yourself, after hundreds of pieces of furniture I've never had that happen. The sprayer is about 2 1/2' long and you don't put it directly on the wood. It is held a foot or more away, more than enough to prevent splashing it on yourself. Anyway the over the counter removers are so mild all you would have to do is rinse it off. Anyone working with harsh chemicals should be wearing eye protection anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I swear everything that can go wrong is going wrong as I attempt to do this project. I am using a 1/4 palm sander and the backing pad tore and no one sells one for this make (companion). Went to the store before they closed to see and ended up with a portage cable 1/4 sheet sander but now that I am reading more I am wondering if I should have gone with a round 5' orbital sander.
can you offer any advice with experience which one you would recommend
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
so I ended up restaining the dresser and got some weird results. Here are some pictures of the progress and what ended up happening after it was completely dry.
dresser stripped down the color remaining on it is from the previous attempt and before that it was sanded down completely till only the wood showed

First coat of stain left on for 15 minutes then wiped off with old clean t-shirt

Second coat applied approx 16 hours later

Final coat applied approx 16 hours later


Now here is where it got weird. I let it sit for a couple day (3) and ended up getting some weird marks on it. At first I thought the wood conditioner might have not took well in those spots so I did a quick coat and wiped it off. After it dried again the spots returned but upon closer inspection it looks like something that can be wiped off but in process little bit of stain is on my finger.
You can see in the pick where I wiped a line and then did an arrow to show what I am talking about. Any suggestions how I can fix this to before I apply the polly? My son was born this past Thursday so now this has become a priority
 

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You have some unknown foreign chemical on the wood that is reacting with the finish. Sometimes when you strip furniture a residue of the remover left on the wood can really screw you up when you put the new finish on. The problem may be traces of remover or it could be furniture polish that has gotten into the wood. The problem may also be stain left on the surface of the wood causing adhesion problems. It's best when you stain wood to apply the stain and wipe if off right away, not wait 15 minutes. Then only stain once. If you have a layer of stain on the surface of the wood it won't bond to the wood. Then when you put poly on it the poly will stick to the stain instead of the wood. If the color isn't dark enough it's better to use a darker stain or supplement the color with dyes. Another note, next time try to keep the furniture out of the sun until the finish cures for a couple of weeks. If there is any problem the sun will aggravate it.

From where you are I would strip the finish off again with a methylene chloride remover on a day that is 70 degrees or more and rinse the remover off with a power washer that is less than 1500 psi or can be adjusted down. If that isn't an option rinse the residue off with lacquer thinner frequently changing rags. That way if there is any chemicals on the wood the rags will pick it up. Then what I see in the first picture in post #10 it looks like the wood isn't sanded enough. Using a finish sander instead of an orbital sander you may have to start with 100 grit sandpaper and thoroughly sand it, then sand it again with 120 grit, then 180 grit before staining. The more aggressive sanding will come closer to bringing the wood back to it's original condition.
 

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I swear everything that can go wrong is going wrong as I attempt to do this project. I am using a 1/4 palm sander and the backing pad tore and no one sells one for this make (companion). Went to the store before they closed to see and ended up with a portage cable 1/4 sheet sander but now that I am reading more I am wondering if I should have gone with a round 5' orbital sander.
can you offer any advice with experience which one you would recommend
Often you can stick the felt pads back on the metal backing plate with contact cement. The 1/4 sheet sander is really a finish sander. For sanding wood the 5" orbital sander will do much better. Just don't sand the wood with coarse sandpaper and quit. The orbital sander makes swirl marks in the wood and if you don't work in steps from coarse to fine the swirl marks wills stain black when you put your stain on.
 

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Sanding off a finish isn't as effective as using a chemical stripper. I would not use a power washer on woodwork to remove stripper. If you start sanding with too coarse a grit, you may not have removed all the abrasion marks by the time you get to 180x.

If you are using an oil base stain, one application is what you should apply. That application should not be sanded. If you use a sealer coat, the first application or two of that should not be sanded. If you need a stain that you can deepen, use a dye.






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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
both of you have different techniques that sound great. To remedy this would each of you mind just giving me a step by step on how you would go from here and what products you recomend? I want to give it a 3rd and final attept to hopefully have it done by Nov 9th when my in laws fly into town to see the baby. I do not have a power washer that works (one in pic works when it wants to). I was under the impression you could apply more coats of the stain to achieve a darker color (3 coats give us the coat we like). The color is a minwax gunstock color
 

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I really think the three coats of stain is responsible for your troubles. Not only is it possible you achieved a film of stain on the surface you have more of the linseed oil penetrated into the wood which needed a lot longer drying time before topcoating.

First I would strip the finish off with Kleen Strip paint and varnish remover. On a day when it is 70 degrees or more brush a liberal coat of the semi-paste remover on one side of the dresser and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes adding more stripper to the dry spots. When it is ready scrape off the finish with a broad knife. Be sure the broad knife doesn't have any nicks on it or it will scratch the wood. Then as quick as possible rinse the residue of the remover off. I prefer to use a low powered power washer that is less than 1500 psi. It will remove the residue off better than anything you can use and does no damage to the wood. If that isn't an option then rinse the furniture with lacquer thinner frequently changing rags. Once that is done do the other side and then the top and then one drawer front at a time. If you get too much going on at once the remover and the old finish can dry back on the wood and getting the wood clean is the most important.

The next step I putty any voids with a birch woodputty and then sand the furniture with a random orbital sander first with 80 grit sandpaper. Once that is done then sand again with 120 grit. Then 180 grit and finally 220 grit.

The next step would be to stain the furniture. I would recommend the Wood Classics line of stain from Sherwin Williams. Test the color on a small place and see if you like it before going any further. If is isn't dark enough buy a darker color or have them add some more pigment to the stain. You could also buy a color that is too dark and one that is lighter and mix them together for the desired color. Stain only one side at a time. Stain it and as soon as you get it covered wipe off the excess and then move to another area. I almost apply stain with one hand and wipe off with the other. It shouldn't be left on any longer than necessary. Then let dry overnight before proceeding.

For the finish since it has so much red in it be sure not to use a water based finish. Sometimes a water based finish has a bad reaction with the iron in the red pigment. If you are working the finish by hand I would recommend a wipe on oil based polyurethane. A wipe on poly is thin to where it takes about 3 coats of wipe on to equal 1 coat of the brush on type. For this reason you may need 6 coats lighty scuffing the finish with 220 grit sandpaper between coats. If you have the means of spraying I would first seal it with a vinyl sealer, sand the sealer with 220 grit stearated sandpaper and put two coats of a pre-catalyzed lacquer finish on.

The last thing I would do is rub the outside of the drawers and the guides with gulf wax so the drawers slide easier.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thank you for the advice Steve, would you still sand the dresser again even though it had already been sanded before when I removed the original finish?
 

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Her is the SOP for refinishing furniture in very broad terms; Get existing finish off; a mix of 50/50 alcohol lacquer rubbed on with 4 ought steel wool will take off most finishes (but not all).Also this leaves oil based stain in the wood if you don't rub it too hard. If not, paint remover will have to be used. You only need to sand the rough spots or if possible use just 4-0000 steel wool. Next stain one, two as many coats as you want WIPE all stain off really well. Next step seal with dewaxed shellac zisser spray will do, two coats. Then rub down well again with 4-0 steel wool. You now have sealed in to the wood any thing that could effect your top coat. You can stop now or top coat with boil linseed oil, wipe-on poly or any oil or water based finish you like. The keys are get the topcoat off, seal the wood THEN topcoat with a compatible finish. Don't make this brain surgery.:blink:
 

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Thank you for the advice Steve, would you still sand the dresser again even though it had already been sanded before when I removed the original finish?
Stripping the furniture even if you rinse with a solvent will raise the grain so it should be sanded for that reason alone. Also there may be a spot here and there that you didn't get the finish stripped well enough and if you don't sand it may not stain evenly. Since you have already sanded the piece it doesn't need as much sanding as it did the first time so you could probably start sanding with 180 grit paper and finish with 220 grit paper.
 
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