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We are currently refinishing a kitchen table that has a multi-directional pattern on top. It looks like a checkerboard/quilted pattern. We are using a gel stain which I think should be okay to wipe with the grain but I'm seriously concerned about the topcoat. My usual go to is Varathane's Triple Thick. Then I do a coat of wipe on poly to finish. Spraying is not an option. We don't own one. Can I go in one direction and still be okay? Thank you!
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A gel stain essentially is a can of thinned down paint. It's so heavy with solids you won't be able to keep from putting some streaks across the grain on some of the squares because the direction alternates. I think you would be much happier if you would use an oil stain and wipe off the excess.

There is a few places that doesn't appear to be sanded well enough. You might wipe over the top with a wet rag and see if it looks uniform. In the picture on the lower side where it separates at the top the first and third block from the right looks like there are spots where the grain isn't sanded enough. Then the second from the right there is a line across that one which looks like a low spot where the old stain is still there. Then the leaf at the right side appears right at the edge looks like it's sanded too much where 1/2" from the end there is dark blotches where the old stain is still there. Sometimes these places go away when you apply the new stain and sometimes it doesn't. Once you apply stain on it, it makes it worse to try to fix is why I recommended wetting it to look at it. Anyway to raise the grain and give it another sanding with 180 or finer grit paper will make it all the better.
 

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We are currently refinishing a kitchen table that has a multi-directional pattern on top. It looks like a checkerboard/quilted pattern. We are using a gel stain which I think should be okay to wipe with the grain but I'm seriously concerned about the topcoat. My usual go to is Varathane's Triple Thick. Then I do a coat of wipe on poly to finish. Spraying is not an option. We don't own one. Can I go in one direction and still be okay? Thank you! View attachment 422453
We are currently refinishing a kitchen table that has a multi-directional pattern on top. It looks like a checkerboard/quilted pattern. We are using a gel stain which I think should be okay to wipe with the grain but I'm seriously concerned about the topcoat. My usual go to is Varathane's Triple Thick. Then I do a coat of wipe on poly to finish. Spraying is not an option. We don't own one. Can I go in one direction and still be okay? Thank you! View attachment 422453
Like Steve stated, a gel stain would not be my choice if I want to show off the pattern and grain. The benefit of gel stain is it is somewhat easier to get a uniform color. The trade off is it seriously muddies the appearance of the wood beneath. I would likely opt for a dye stain such as Trans Tint or Trans Fast. They can be obtained in powder or liquid form and can be mixed with water or denatured alcohol. Denatured alcohol reduces the raising of the grain, but does make the dye some more susceptible to UV. When I really want to show off the wood grain I like to seal it with dewaxed shellac. It excels at really making grain pop. I buy it on line. It can be purchased in different colors from super blonde, which is a slight amber, to ruby and garnet which are dark and on the red side. It is nothing to be afraid of, not rocket science. You dissolve the flakes in denatured alcohol. You can also purchase Sealcoat which is an amber shellac pre mixed. They have it in most home centers. If the table is going to be subjected to use, I would then top coat it with an oil based poly. I like to thin the first few coats and wet sand (320-400 grit) followed by the last coat being straight from the can. If you are going for a satin to matte finish I would do all the coats in high gloss, the last coat in the matte or satin. This will increase the clarity and make the finish more durable. The flattening agents used to create satin and matte soften the finish. Nice piece of furniture, good luck and have fun. Post some pics when you are finished.
 

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Really beautiful pattern. I got nutt’n to add about the finishing other than I appreciate everyone’s comments. A wealth of knowledge with every post.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
A gel stain essentially is a can of thinned down paint. It's so heavy with solids you won't be able to keep from putting some streaks across the grain on some of the squares because the direction alternates. I think you would be much happier if you would use an oil stain and wipe off the excess.

There is a few places that doesn't appear to be sanded well enough. You might wipe over the top with a wet rag and see if it looks uniform. In the picture on the lower side where it separates at the top the first and third block from the right looks like there are spots where the grain isn't sanded enough. Then the second from the right there is a line across that one which looks like a low spot where the old stain is still there. Then the leaf at the right side appears right at the edge looks like it's sanded too much where 1/2" from the end there is dark blotches where the old stain is still there. Sometimes these places go away when you apply the new stain and sometimes it doesn't. Once you apply stain on it, it makes it worse to try to fix is why I recommended wetting it to look at it. Anyway to raise the grain and give it another sanding with 180 or finer grit paper will make it all the better.
Thank you for the feed back! This is just after 120 to remove the finish but before the 220 and 320 to smooth everything out. I'll definitely pay attention to the areas you pointed out.
 

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Like Steve stated, a gel stain would not be my choice if I want to show off the pattern and grain. The benefit of gel stain is it is somewhat easier to get a uniform color. The trade off is it seriously muddies the appearance of the wood beneath. I would likely opt for a dye stain such as Trans Tint or Trans Fast. They can be obtained in powder or liquid form and can be mixed with water or denatured alcohol. Denatured alcohol reduces the raising of the grain, but does make the dye some more susceptible to UV. When I really want to show off the wood grain I like to seal it with dewaxed shellac. It excels at really making grain pop. I buy it on line. It can be purchased in different colors from super blonde, which is a slight amber, to ruby and garnet which are dark and on the red side. It is nothing to be afraid of, not rocket science. You dissolve the flakes in denatured alcohol. You can also purchase Sealcoat which is an amber shellac pre mixed. They have it in most home centers. If the table is going to be subjected to use, I would then top coat it with an oil based poly. I like to thin the first few coats and wet sand (320-400 grit) followed by the last coat being straight from the can. If you are going for a satin to matte finish I would do all the coats in high gloss, the last coat in the matte or satin. This will increase the clarity and make the finish more durable. The flattening agents used to create satin and matte soften the finish. Nice piece of furniture, good luck and have fun. Post some pics when you are finished.
I've never heard of it but I'll look into it. It's a kitchen table so it'll be getting lots of use. We're going high gloss for the topcoat on all of it.
 

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Just so you know it a bad practice to sand the finish off wood. The finish soaks into the wood and if you don't sand the wood below the old finish you can have problems staining the wood. If you looked at wood through a microscope it would look like a cluster of drinking straws and the pores need to be open to stain uniform. On wood it's always best to chemically remove the finish before you sand. Chemicals will soak into the wood and remove the old finish out of the wood. Now having said that the government has banned the chemical that makes removers effective so it takes a lot more elbow grease to do that.
 

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I’d like to add that you need to be careful sanding since it is probably a veneer top and the veneer is usually not very thick. Sanding through the veneer is not good.
 
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