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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am refinishing a store bought kitchen table that has had some abuse over the years from nail polish remover, hot plates, pens, etc. So far, so good... but I have some questions about a few things I encountered, as well as final steps. This is a kitchen table with maple veneer top, solid maple edge detail strip, and mdf underneath. It was stained a light brown with some type of clear coat on top.

While sanding it down, I used a Bosch orbital with 80 grit to get the bulk of the finish off... moving to 120 in random orbital mode and 150 with palm random orbital then by hand with the grain to finish. Problem is, the veneer has different patterns so the grain changes in different sections... making it difficult to stay with the grain. I ran into a few things that I want to learn how to avoid in the future... and need some real-world advice on the final finishing stages.

1) While removing the finish with the Bosch GET75-6N and 80 grit, I had to constantly stop and remove globs of gummy finish from the sandpaper. I went through 10 discs of 80 and 100 grit before the finish was all off. Was this gummy build up from an inferior finish material (I thought good quality poly produces white dust when sanding)? sanding at too high rotational speed? other? was there a better way for me to remove the finish?

2) I wiped it with mineral spirits to see if there were any marks left after sanding. There were not. But after I applied the Java Gel Stain, if I look close, I can see some sanding swirls that survived the hand sanding with the grain. What could I have done to avoid this or see them more clearly before applying the gel stain?

3) I let the gel stain dry for 4 days... then sprayed High Perf Satin Poly. After a day I lightly sanded with 320 to remove roughness. I will do the same after coats 2 and 3 (doing 4 total). I have read that you are supposed to sand the poly WITH the grain also... again, with multiple grain patterns across the top this is difficult, and leaves areas at joints not necessarily sanded properly. Since I am not sanding the wood surface any more is there any real reason to stay with the grain? If I sand the poly across the entire table in one direction, where I cross the grain, will it create any artifacts in the poly that will be noticeable?

4) How long between poly coats sprayed? Can says 2 hours. I read posts on here saying wait until next day. I have my garage at 70 deg and 50% humidity. Can I spray a coat in morning and again at night without creating any problems in the finish? High Perf Satin Poly water based. It costs me money to keep electric heater running to keep garage at 70... :)

Thanks!
 

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That’s the finish heating up that gums the paper.

Swirl marks can be hard to detect. Wet with MS or DNA and raking light before staining.

Finish can be sanded any direction if the wood is perfectly flat. Some wood grain has hard and soft areas. Maple is ok sand any direction. That said most of us sand with grain b/c it’s ingrained 😉 in our heads.

@ that climate water based poly dries fast enough you can probably get all 4 coats in one day. 2+2 is fine. Sand then wipe with DNA b/t coats.

Pics when you’re done!
 

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That’s the finish heating up that gums the paper.

Swirl marks can be hard to detect. Wet with MS or DNA and raking light before staining.

Finish can be sanded any direction if the wood is perfectly flat. Some wood grain has hard and soft areas. Maple is ok sand any direction. That said most of us sand with grain b/c it’s ingrained 😉 in our heads.

@ that climate water based poly dries fast enough you can probably get all 4 coats in one day. 2+2 is fine. Sand then wipe with DNA b/t coats.

Pics when you’re done!
I personally wouldn’t recommend wiping waterborne clears between coats w/DNA….I’ve had a couple of instances where it resulted in micro-crazing which had white hazy appearance similar blushing.
 

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It's often difficult to know when a wood surface is finish-ready and it appears you chose a grain pattern that made it yet more problematic. A flat non-reflective surface, complicated by grain lnes, sometimes makes confidently applying finish a big ask. Wetting is useful but in recent years I find myself "sanding to excess",hopefully avoiding the difficulties you have encountered. For grain that runs in various directions (even at 90 degrees) I've had quite good luck with 180 grit on a random orbital as the last sand before the first finish coat. I know it doesn't seem fine enough but it works.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the feedback. GF Gel Stain says to only go to 150. Since the gel stain sits more on top of the wood and does not need to penetrate as much, I was questioning that, but followed the instructions. Sounds like hand sanding with 180 with the grain may have helped eliminate more swirl marks. Or may be even with random orbital as stated above. Is 150 just too course to expect non-visible marks?

I have never used MS to wipe water based finish... vac and microfiber wipe seem to work well... and anything left is not visible after next coat. I did use MS as a slick coat while applying the gel stain. That went on very smooth and no blotches at all.
 

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I am refinishing a store bought kitchen table that has had some abuse over the years from nail polish remover, hot plates, pens, etc. So far, so good... but I have some questions about a few things I encountered, as well as final steps. This is a kitchen table with maple veneer top, solid maple edge detail strip, and mdf underneath. It was stained a light brown with some type of clear coat on top.

While sanding it down, I used a Bosch orbital with 80 grit to get the bulk of the finish off... moving to 120 in random orbital mode and 150 with palm random orbital then by hand with the grain to finish. Problem is, the veneer has different patterns so the grain changes in different sections... making it difficult to stay with the grain. I ran into a few things that I want to learn how to avoid in the future... and need some real-world advice on the final finishing stages.

1) While removing the finish with the Bosch GET75-6N and 80 grit, I had to constantly stop and remove globs of gummy finish from the sandpaper. I went through 10 discs of 80 and 100 grit before the finish was all off. Was this gummy build up from an inferior finish material (I thought good quality poly produces white dust when sanding)? sanding at too high rotational speed? other? was there a better way for me to remove the finish?

2) I wiped it with mineral spirits to see if there were any marks left after sanding. There were not. But after I applied the Java Gel Stain, if I look close, I can see some sanding swirls that survived the hand sanding with the grain. What could I have done to avoid this or see them more clearly before applying the gel stain?

3) I let the gel stain dry for 4 days... then sprayed High Perf Satin Poly. After a day I lightly sanded with 320 to remove roughness. I will do the same after coats 2 and 3 (doing 4 total). I have read that you are supposed to sand the poly WITH the grain also... again, with multiple grain patterns across the top this is difficult, and leaves areas at joints not necessarily sanded properly. Since I am not sanding the wood surface any more is there any real reason to stay with the grain? If I sand the poly across the entire table in one direction, where I cross the grain, will it create any artifacts in the poly that will be noticeable?

4) How long between poly coats sprayed? Can says 2 hours. I read posts on here saying wait until next day. I have my garage at 70 deg and 50% humidity. Can I spray a coat in morning and again at night without creating any problems in the finish? High Perf Satin Poly water based. It costs me money to keep electric heater running to keep garage at 70... :)

Thanks!
Any time you refinish wood it needs to start with a chemical stripper. Problem is the government has banned to the public the chemical which makes removers effective. You really need to find a professional refinishing shop and at least have them strip the finish for you. When you sand a finish off wood it tends to get what is on the surface and leaves what is penetrated into the wood. Then when you apply stain you find spots here and there that won't accept the stain.

The swirls in the wood are scratches created with the orbital sander with the 80 grit paper. 80 is really too coarse for a veneered table. By the time you get the scratches out you might sand through the veneer.

Between the coats sanding with 320 grit paper you don't have to sand with the grain, I often use an orbital sander on flat surfaces.

The drying time for poly will vary a great deal from brand to brand and especially the weather. In cool or cold weather you may need to let the finish dry a week where in hot weather you could do two coats in a day. About all you can do is go by the directions on the can. They are intended for weather in the 70-80 degree range so depending on the temperature where you are let it dry much longer if it is cooler.
 

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Thanks for the feedback. GF Gel Stain says to only go to 150. Since the gel stain sits more on top of the wood and does not need to penetrate as much, I was questioning that, but followed the instructions. Sounds like hand sanding with 180 with the grain may have helped eliminate more swirl marks. Or may be even with random orbital as stated above. Is 150 just too course to expect non-visible marks?

I have never used MS to wipe water based finish... vac and microfiber wipe seem to work well... and anything left is not visible after next coat. I did use MS as a slick coat while applying the gel stain. That went on very smooth and no blotches at all.
With most finishing there is no need to go beyond 150 grit prior to staining, or sealing. In fact, it can be counterproductive on some woods making stain penetration difficult. As for activity between coats, you need to know exactly what finish you are spraying and how. Are you spraying with a gun or rattle can? Every finish can be different. Most of the finishes I use can receive additional coats in 20 minutes to an hour without sanding between coats. Waiting 24 hours requires the surface to be scratch sanded between coats. Most poly is very brittle and difficult to remove compared to some other finishes. Chemical stripping is the preferred method. Sanding a finish off can result in heating the coating and burnishing it into the wood creating finishing problems down the line. I do not do much refinishing and use very little 80 grit. Coming off a planer I usually sand 120 to 150 before finishing. Seal coat followed by 220, one top coat followed by a light buffing with 320. Two top coats no sand.
 

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With most finishing there is no need to go beyond 150 grit prior to staining, or sealing. In fact, it can be counterproductive on some woods making stain penetration difficult. As for activity between coats, you need to know exactly what finish you are spraying and how. Are you spraying with a gun or rattle can? Every finish can be different. Most of the finishes I use can receive additional coats in 20 minutes to an hour without sanding between coats. Waiting 24 hours requires the surface to be scratch sanded between coats. Most poly is very brittle and difficult to remove compared to some other finishes. Chemical stripping is the preferred method. Sanding a finish off can result in heating the coating and burnishing it into the wood creating finishing problems down the line. I do not do much refinishing and use very little 80 grit. Coming off a planer I usually sand 120 to 150 before finishing. Seal coat followed by 220, one top coat followed by a light buffing with 320. Two top coats no sand.
Many paint and varnish removers contain paraffin wax up to or more than 5% by weight to inhibit evaporation of the more volatile solvents. The residual wax often results in poor adhesion, even more so when removing finishes via sanding, and can also inhibit solvent based coatings from drying to full hardness, resulting in a soft or even gummy finish.
 

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Curly-Qi’s can be from sand paper, sander,both or a lack of cleaning between grits. I usually don’t sand further than 150 grit on a table..
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks, everyone. I appreciate all the feedback. I think the lessons I have learned are that I should not have started with 80. May be 100 with sander in turbo mode for bulk of clear coat removal... then switching to standard random orbit mode with 100 for the rest of finish removal... then 150 hand sanded with grain may have been a better way to go. The swirls are only in a few spots and only noticeable if you look very close. Overall, I am very happy with the finish.. and more importantly, my wife is very happy with it. :)

I sprayed 6 coats of GF High Perf Satin. It looks really good... I moved the table in to house to cure for 2 weeks. I have noticed that if I have direct sun coming in and look across the surface of the table, I can see a very slight sheen variation in the pattern of my last spray pass. I always spray under edge, then side edge, then top... so any dry spray falling on table top from spraying edges will get wet with final top spray passes. And I do lengthwise first, then widthwise passes, overlapping each pass. I may have had the spray pattern too wide and gotten some dryer spray on the edges of each pass... possibly causing the slight sheen variation. So, after 2 weeks of curing, what is best way to even it all out? I have seen some say that 0000 steel wool with water and dish soap, in swirling pattern will do it. Others say 1000 grit dry paper. Other say to then buff after sanding. I don't want to mess anything up with it and have to go back and spray another coat and lose another 2 weeks to cure... so hoping you can all point me to the best way to even out the sheen at this point.

In the low angle pic, you can see the variation is very slight... you can see it at the top of pic. It has all been rubbed in circular pattern with microfiber cloth. In bottom right you can see where I rubbed it with just my bare hand... and it seemed to clean it up a bit... would just the paper bag method be enough since it is so slight or does it need more aggressive sand paper or 0000 steel?

Table Wood Rectangle Desk Flooring
Brown Wood Rectangle Table Floor
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
It is fully cured... need to get it back in kitchen. :) Should I go over it with 1500 and then buff on some auto wax? Does the auto wax keep me from light sanding and another poly coat down the road if I need to fix anything or freshen it up?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Really looking for some advice to save me here.

I took the center insert piece alone, and wet sanded with 2000. It smoothed it out to the touch nicely. Then I used my random orbital, with a foam pad and Meguiars polish. I used a very small amount, and went over the surface for a few minutes. Once I was done with the random orbital, it looked very good... I then took a microfiber cloth and wiped the surface. It now looks terrible.
Brown Wood Natural material Flooring Wood stain


You can see the dull pattern. What did I do wrong? I had sprayed 6 coats of GF High Perf Poly Satin. Cured for 3 weeks. I assume I can get the polish off with mineral spirits, and then sand with 320 and put another coat of poly on if I choose to??? Will the mineral spirits not harm the poly and get all the polish off so another coat will stick?

I would greatly appreciate any advice on how to save this project!
 

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Really looking for some advice to save me here.

I took the center insert piece alone, and wet sanded with 2000. It smoothed it out to the touch nicely. Then I used my random orbital, with a foam pad and Meguiars polish. I used a very small amount, and went over the surface for a few minutes. Once I was done with the random orbital, it looked very good... I then took a microfiber cloth and wiped the surface. It now looks terrible. View attachment 445790

You can see the dull pattern. What did I do wrong? I had sprayed 6 coats of GF High Perf Poly Satin. Cured for 3 weeks. I assume I can get the polish off with mineral spirits, and then sand with 320 and put another coat of poly on if I choose to??? Will the mineral spirits not harm the poly and get all the polish off so another coat will stick?

I would greatly appreciate any advice on how to save this project!
The finish just wasn't thick enough for what you were trying to do. To polish a table out like that you have to have enough finish on it that it sort of looks like there is a thin sheet of glass glued to the wood. The table isn't ruined. I would recommend cleaning the table with a wax and grease remover. Then scuff sand it with 220 grit paper and putting more finish on it. As best as I can tell from the picture it looks like it might need 3 more coats to get where you want to go.

When you do try to polish it out it would work better if you used a 7" auto polisher with a lambswool bonnet. 10 Amp 7 in. Digital Variable Speed Polisher/Sander
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
Thanks, Steve. That makes me feel better. I have the Bosch GET75-6N sander... looks like that, with a wool pad would work? I have a wool pad also... but tried the foam on this section first.

I am guessing may be I should have sprayed on thicker coats. After 6 sprayed coats, when I wet sanded 3 weeks later with 2000, I saw what appeared to be the lighter visually duller.. but to touch it was completely smooth. Were the spray coats too thin?

I am not committed to polishing it... I just want to have the poly smooth to touch and consistent sheen across the table when done. After another few coats, after I smooth last coat with 2000, what can I do after that to even out sheen from the sanding without polishing?

Any recommendation for wax/polish remover other than Liberon Wax and Polish Remover for $40 and waiting 6 days?
 
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