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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all-
I just completed several pine projects with no issues. I took all the same precautions and used the exact same methods on this recent project (birch butcher block bar top).

First, I preconditioned wood with mineral spirits and then applied early American minwax (one coat only). I let the stain dry for at least 24 hours, at which time the color looked nice and even and so I began applying water based polyurethane. After the first coat of poly was dry there was no change in the stain appearance or quality; everything looked good (1st picture) so I applied a second coat of poly. I had to go to work for a few days. I came back about 72 hours later and all the stain is noticeably lighter and in some areas appears to have actually disappeared leaving the original wood color (2nd & 3rd pictures). Again, I have never seen this happen with any of my pine projects despite using the exact same process. Is it the birc

If anyone can explain why this happened it would be much appreciated by this hack woodworker!
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The Nut in the Cellar
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I agree this is perplexing. Minwax stain is oil based and should have fully "dried" after 24 hours. Was it fully cured prior to applying the poly? Water based poly should not have disturbed the stain like an oil based poly might have. What brand of poly did you use? Again, did you scuff the poly between applications? I don't use water based poly, so I'm out of my range on that.

And welcome to the forums.
 

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I agree that it is puzzling given the information we have. In my experience, it looks exactly like the poly has partly dissolved and "pulled" the underlying stain. We can't be sure why. If it was an fully cured oil base stain with a water based poly (I guess it's OK, but I wouldn't do it) then I wouldn't expect it to happen. I have had it happen when using oil based poly applied with a brush. I have learned to apply a light spray coat of shellac (spray can) over my stain before applying oil based poly. I have only sprayed water based poly. So can't comment there.
Are you sure it was a water based poly you used and not oil?
In any case, your alternatives now are to either live with it or re-do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you all for the input!
I did sand between the first and second coat of poly. I was going to do two more coats with sanding in between. At this point I am going to stop and strip the poly, re-sand, and then stain again. I feel like the mineral spirits may have somehow pulled the stain deeper into the wood after the first coat of poly was put on, though I've never had this happen before. I don't know what other mechanism could be at play...but I also don't know a lot.
Maybe I will wait a full week before putting on the first coat of poly to make sure the stain actually cures. I will give you an update.
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I think Minwax Wood Finish (stain) feels waxy for quite awhile after applying it. I have only applied a water based poly over it once. That was years ago and I don't remember how long I waited for the stain to dry. I think the OP said he waited about 24 hours. I'm betting the poly didn't adhere in some areas and has lifted. The stain clearly dries differently in different areas of a piece of wood, so that would explain why it is spotty. The OP implies he has done this before with no problems, but this is the first time he has done it on birch.

Both products used are Minwax. I'd try calling Minwax and see what they say. @Fergferg, if you haven't stripped it yet, maybe try taking a razor blade and at an angle cutting into a white area. When you cut into it, you will be able to see if it has lifted. If nothing else, a call to Minwax might help so that it doesn't happen again after you go through the trouble of stripping it.
 

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You have
Hello all-
I just completed several pine projects with no issues. I took all the same precautions and used the exact same methods on this recent project (birch butcher block bar top).

First, I preconditioned wood with mineral spirits and then applied early American minwax (one coat only). I let the stain dry for at least 24 hours, at which time the color looked nice and even and so I began applying water based polyurethane. After the first coat of poly was dry there was no change in the stain appearance or quality; everything looked good (1st picture) so I applied a second coat of poly. I had to go to work for a few days. I came back about 72 hours later and all the stain is noticeably lighter and in some areas appears to have actually disappeared leaving the original wood color (2nd & 3rd pictures). Again, I have never seen this happen with any of my pine projects despite using the exact same process. Is it the birc

If anyone can explain why this happened it would be much appreciated by this hack woodworker!
View attachment 442823 View attachment 442824 View attachment 442825
You have a few things going on which could have caused your problems. The first is the stain should have been wiped off right after applying it. If it wasn't dark enough use a darker stain. Then minwax stain is more of a dye stain than an oil stain so an actual wood conditioner would have been better than using mineral spirits. Last is the water based polyurethane. They are all incompatible with the linseed oil contained in the stain. The stain applied the way you did it should have been allowed to dry a week before using a waterborne finish. A shortcut you could have used is to seal the wood with a de-waxed shellac such as Zinsser Sealcoat before using the waterborne finish.

From where you are the only fix is to chemically strip the finish off, sand it and start over. Even if you decide to live with the light spots the finish will peal off.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you. I did wipe the excess stain off within 10 minutes of application. It sounds like I didn't wait long enough for the stain to dry though. I will strip and restrain, then wait a week before applying the poly.
 

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Thank you all for the input!
I did sand between the first and second coat of poly. I was going to do two more coats with sanding in between. At this point I am going to stop and strip the poly, re-sand, and then stain again. I feel like the mineral spirits may have somehow pulled the stain deeper into the wood after the first coat of poly was put on, though I've never had this happen before. I don't know what other mechanism could be at play...but I also don't know a lot.
Maybe I will wait a full week before putting on the first coat of poly to make sure the stain actually cures. I will give you an update. View attachment 442844
Birch can be a pain to stain. Ideally you would want to use a spraying stain or toner. Glue sizing and sanding with 320 prior to staining helps. You can also prepare the surface with a very dilute lacquer or shellac instead of glue sizing. Spray the stain or dye. If necessary add dye to your clearcoat and spray to even areas.
 

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Cabinetmaker
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Hello all-
I just completed several pine projects with no issues. I took all the same precautions and used the exact same methods on this recent project (birch butcher block bar top).

First, I preconditioned wood with mineral spirits and then applied early American minwax (one coat only). I let the stain dry for at least 24 hours, at which time the color looked nice and even and so I began applying water based polyurethane. After the first coat of poly was dry there was no change in the stain appearance or quality; everything looked good (1st picture) so I applied a second coat of poly. I had to go to work for a few days. I came back about 72 hours later and all the stain is noticeably lighter and in some areas appears to have actually disappeared leaving the original wood color (2nd & 3rd pictures). Again, I have never seen this happen with any of my pine projects despite using the exact same process. Is it the birc

If anyone can explain why this happened it would be much appreciated by this hack woodworker!
View attachment 442823
Hello all-
I just completed several pine projects with no issues. I took all the same precautions and used the exact same methods on this recent project (birch butcher block bar top).

First, I preconditioned wood with mineral spirits and then applied early American minwax (one coat only). I let the stain dry for at least 24 hours, at which time the color looked nice and even and so I began applying water based polyurethane. After the first coat of poly was dry there was no change in the stain appearance or quality; everything looked good (1st picture) so I applied a second coat of poly. I had to go to work for a few days. I came back about 72 hours later and all the stain is noticeably lighter and in some areas appears to have actually disappeared leaving the original wood color (2nd & 3rd pictures). Again, I have never seen this happen with any of my pine projects despite using the exact same process. Is it the birc

If anyone can explain why this happened it would be much appreciated by this hack woodworker!
View attachment 442823 View attachment 442824 View attachment 442825
If you decide to start from scratch, do not forget Steve Neul's tip with applying a sealcoat of de-waxed shellac or other comparable sealer. This should be done after the stain dries completely. I never apply any type finish, before sealing it first.
View attachment 442824 View attachment 442825
Hello all-
I just completed several pine projects with no issues. I took all the same precautions and used the exact same methods on this recent project (birch butcher block bar top).

First, I preconditioned wood with mineral spirits and then applied early American minwax (one coat only). I let the stain dry for at least 24 hours, at which time the color looked nice and even and so I began applying water based polyurethane. After the first coat of poly was dry there was no change in the stain appearance or quality; everything looked good (1st picture) so I applied a second coat of poly. I had to go to work for a few days. I came back about 72 hours later and all the stain is noticeably lighter and in some areas appears to have actually disappeared leaving the original wood color (2nd & 3rd pictures). Again, I have never seen this happen with any of my pine projects despite using the exact same process. Is it the birc

If anyone can explain why this happened it would be much appreciated by this hack woodworker!
View attachment 442823 View attachment 442824 View attachment 442825
If you decide to start from scratch, please consider Steve Neul's tip with first applying a sealcoat of de-waxed shellac, or other comparable sealer. This should be done after the staining and before using the poly. Other than a simple oil/wax rub, I never apply any other type of finish, before sealing it first.

- Bob
 
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