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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks, I'm a novice when it comes to staining cabinets and needed to refinish a drawer on my custom cabinets. Usually I wouldn't have tried to do so but 1) I still have the original stain from when the house was built and 2) the cabinet shop went out of business in the downturn.

My problem is after refinishing I can't get the drawer nearly as dark as the original. Here are the details:

I'm pretty sure the cabinets are oak. The stain is ZAR oil-based in "Moorish Teak" color, which is basically a very dark walnut. It seems to match the existing cabinets perfectly, so the stain hasn't discolored.

I took off the drawer face and stripped it down (it ended up a light tan after stripping). I then sanded the hell out of it and cleaned it with a stain wash. By the time it was prepped it wasn't raw lumber but it was pretty darn clean.

I then applied a coat of the stain and...ended up a long way from what it needed to look like, much lighter than the original. I lightly sanded once dry and applied again. I'm now on the fifth coat and have concluded that this brute force method is just covering up for some fundamental flaw in my approach. Happy to start over, but I need to get a different result.

Thanks for any help or insight you can provide.
 

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Well first, what do you mean about stain wash? What did you use to strip the old finish off with? Some removers barely take off the finish on the surface and leave the wood sealed. If the stain wasn't separated there had to be something different done than staining raw wood for it not to take the color.

If you meant a wood conditioner as the stain wash then that may have been your problem. A wood conditioner is a sealer which inhibits the wood from accepting the stain. You may need to thin the conditioner or eliminate it altogether depending on the wood type you are using. Some woods like oak don't need a conditioner at all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi there, thanks for the reply. The product was Klean Strip After Wash (http://www.kleanstrip.com/product/paint-stripper-after-wash). The stripper itself was Klean Strip Premium Stripper. As I mentioned I think the wood was in reasonably good shape for a stain application.

I'm now wondering if perhaps the stain particles disintegrated or lost some of their staining power over the 6 years since original application. If not, then my guess is that the original cabinet shop treated the stain differently: do professional cabinetry folks have a concept of a stain bath, where the wood would be immersed and soaked in a stain for many hours or days to achieve a deep, uniform color?
 

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Sorry, I've been tied up with work the last few days to get on the internet.

The after wash product was good to use and the stripper is a good product so I think you are alright there. The only thing I forgot to ask is what was the temperature when you did the stripping. No remover works well below 70 degrees. What might take 15 minutes to strip in the mid 70's might take an hour in the mid 60's. Then if the temperature was in the 50's it might take all day. I myself don't have a heated place to strip furniture so I have suspended refinishing work until spring. Since the chemicals don't completely rid the wood of the finish you end up having to do an over kill sanding so I just don't fight it.

Stains can go bad but usually you can see it. It usually separates and you can't get to to stir back together. Since I don't have experience with the Zar brand of stain the only thing I can suggest is get a fresh can of stain and see if you get better results. As always try these products on scrap wood if at all possible to see what happens before causing yourself a lot of work trying to fix something.

If this still doesn't work the color could be darkened with dyes or toners but you would probably be better off getting a professional finisher to do that. By the time you bought a selection of supplies to do this you probably pay someone.
 
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