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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What did I do wrong?

Red oak. Sanded with 120 and then 150 grit. Applied and let sit for a bit, then wiped off. I used the Varathane Classic Grey, but it turned out really red.

Did I sand too much?

Perhaps the weather was too cold? I stained in my garage while the wood was room(ish) temp, but temps dropped to about 20 degrees F overnight while it dried.

Did I apply too thin of a coat of stain?

Where do I go from here? Sand and stain or straight to a second coat?

Rectangle Wood Stairs Flooring Road surface
 

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It's unclear what we are looking at. Are these pieces all the same wood stained with the same color stain? Whatever the situation, keep in mind that wood natural color can vary quite a lot from tree to tree or even different places within the same tree. Stain absorbtion rates can also vary. You didn't do anything wrong. You just may need to try different stain colors on your own samples until you like the results. If you are particular about achieving a certain color, try getting some Transtint or similer dye colors and mix small amounts until you achieve the color you like and go from there.
 

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Your parts doesn't appear to be stained at all. How much time elapsed between when you did the sample and stained the wood? I'm guessing the pigment in the stain settled to the bottom of the can and you didn't stir it enough when you did the parts. If that is the case the parts would need to be chemically stripped to remove the linseed oil penetrated into the wood. Then sand and do over. You could probably stop at 120 grit. The more you sand wood the less it accepts stain.
 

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The Nut in the Cellar
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I assume the short piece is the stained color. Red oak will always have a reddish hue when stained. It's rather difficult to hide. Testing on scrap is the way to go. You may have to use a darker stain to hide the red. The wood could be bleached to lessen the red hue, but a different species would be a better choice. Could you try white oak with the stain? If you are looking for a similar grain structure, perhaps hickory or ash would color like you want? A green tinted sealer might render the reddish hue a brown color, but I have no idea what the result would be with your stain. You certainly didn't sand too finely. What does a second or third application look like? Does the stain you are using contain pigment or is it just dye? If it contains pigment, it must be stirred constantly during application as the pigment will settle to the bottom of the container during application. And it must be stirred throughly at the beginning to get all of the settled pigment off of the bottom of the can. I would try a second application over what you have without any sanding and see what you get. The subsequent applications will dissolve the binder holding the previous coats, so watch for streaking. I have sprayed subsequent stain applications to darken the color without disturbing the previous coats. Coloring wood is always an experimental thing as wood varies a great deal.
 

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The wood looks like it hasn't been stained at all.
I would suggest you find a scrap piece from the top boards and test the stain color on them.
If no scraps, shame on you. Then the next choice would be to sand a section of the top pieces and sand and experiment on a different section with other stains the till you get the right color. Then flip the boards and that will be your new top to finish on and yoru experiments will be now on the underside.
Regardless on how you decide to experiment, it might take time. If you do have some scraps, sand them to 180 and take the scraps with you to the paint store. They will open cans for you to experiment on.
If you are using a lacquer finish, you could use dye stains and a toner to get it the way you want.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Problem solved! Turns out, I hadn’t mixed the stain well enough. The pigments were sitting on the bottom of the can. I was dipped just a small corner of an application sponge into the can, so it’s likely that I was only applying oil. Thanks!
 

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where's my table saw?
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Problem solved! Turns out, I hadn’t mixed the stain well enough. The pigments were sitting on the bottom of the can. I was dipped just a small corner of an application sponge into the can, so it’s likely that I was only applying oil. Thanks!
Lesson Learned. All finishing products should be mixed typically by stirring which get the solids off the bottom. Dye stains are the exception.
Even clear finishes need to be stirred. I know nothing about gel stains having never used them.
 
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