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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am having an issue with staining some oak plywood. I am using Minwax red mahogany stain on a nice grade oak plywood.

The problem is that on test pieces the stain looks great until I tried it on a piece that was sanded too 220. On the sanded portion the stain isn't as dark and there are areas that are lighter than others. I can deal with a lighter color but the inconsistency of color is he problem. Should I sand to a lower grit?

Here is a picture but I am sure it is hard to see the difference, above the square is unsanded below is sanded.

ForumRunner_20130923_214452.jpg
 

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where's my table saw?
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it's the plywood

A logical explnation might be that the tiny fibers you have sanded away held more of the stain and when they were removed, it became lighter. Also, because the veneer is so thin and that Oak has a wild grain pattern, the stain will "take" or penetrate unevenly. You might try a blotch control product made to remedy this issue. Like this:
The review:
http://www.thewoodwhisperer.com/articles/blotch-control-to-rule-them-all/

My 1/4" Oak plywood panels took the stain completely different than the hardwood I used in the frame on this Mission Style Headboard. I had to reapply the stain on the panels several times to get it even this close:
 

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bzguy
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For what it's worth, and old-timer showed me this trick with Red Oak, which is a little coarse-grained.
He would apply a thin layer of joint compound to the whole surface the same way you would "mud" drywall.
This sands off easily when dry, fills pores and grain, makes for an even flat surface.
Mud soaks up stain more that wood and adds more contrast as well as a "flatter" surface to finish.
 

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I found that a gel stain worked very well on the open pores of red oak. I used General Finishes gel stain on this piece and am really happy with how it came out.

This is plywood with solid oak trim and edge banding.



image-919843371.jpg



image-540251049.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I haven't tested it yet, but I think I may be an idiot :)

The 220 grit I was using on my orbital sander probably needed to be changed since it was much smoother feeling than a new sheet. Oh well, another lesson learned by a newbie.
 

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You shouldn't need a wood conditioner staining oak. The wood conditioner is a sealer that hinders stain. You might have better luck using a dye stain first and then use the minwax stain to give it some warmth.
 

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I agree with Masterjer and bzguy. I'm an Old Time and my GrandFather taught me to Always fill the pores of Red Oak with a filler prior to staining. That's why the Gel Stain yield a much better finish because the solids in the gel Stain act as a filler for the pores and therefore makes for a much better blended and even finish. I also agree that you should prolly only sand to 180 grit.
 

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IME, I didn't think wood conditioner made enough difference to recommend it on hardwoods. It helps if your staining pine, but not on oak- its a waste of time and money.

The grain differentials are much more pronounced in Oak than many other commonly available veneered ply, to say nothing of the medullary rays that give you the really pronounced patterns that showed up in masterjers project. I think that's the best part of oak, but if you weren't aiming for a drastic grain pattern- which I really like- then don't use oak.

None of this is helping now that you're already done with build and onto finishing. The good news is you want it darker- The real quick and dirty is to "polyshades" it- its basically translucent "paint". If you're willing to go dark and you want to obliterate a good deal of he grain differential its an easy way to make it happen.
 
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