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Discussion Starter #1
I built a mahogany table about 6 years ago. My wife decided she wanted it to match in color a mahogany desk her great great grandfather built 150 years ago, so I labored to get it to match.

We moved and in the new house she wanted it 5 inches higher. Okay, I still had plenty of the wood, but had no idea how I stained it the first time. After days of experimentation I found that a brown dye, walnut stain, and walnut gel stain was perfect. So I attached the extenders and finished them. Without knowing, you couldn't tell. Perfect.

I waited 10 hours for the gel stain to dry and varnished. The varnish lifted all the gel stain! Reading the can, it says to wait 10 hour between stain coats, but 24 before a clear finish. Oh well.

I waited 12 hours and put on more gel stain. Looks good, not as perfect as the first time, but okay.

Now what do I do?
Will waiting 24 hours to varnish do the trick?
Should I put down some shellac first to protect the gel stain?
Or maybe an aerosol? I think I have a can of spray varnish somewhere.
 

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It's unknown territory to me to put a coat of gel stain over varnish. It would probably work if the varnish was scuff sanded but I doubt if you did that. If it were me I would strip the finish off and start over. That would be the only way you could depend on the finish not pealing off.

If you do decide to take the gamble and procede with the finish waiting the 24 hours will work if it's going to.

You have to be careful using shellac with other finishes. If when you say varnish, you mean varnish and not polyurethane then you can seal with shellac. If you mean polyurethane it won't bond to shellac, you must use sealcoat which is a de-waxed shellac. The solvents in shellac are so strong it may give you more trouble though.

Using an aerosol would help if the gel stain bonds to the varnish. If it doesn't then you can finish it and think you are done and in a few weeks the finish could start pealing off.
 

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If you're going to use shellac, buy de waxed flakes and mix your own. Only solvent is denatured alcohol. Shellac will adhere to anything and can be covered with anything (provided it's the de waxed kind).
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I tried some test blocks after 24 hours and it worked fine, so I did the table and that was fine also. Maybe I am getting cynical, but I didn't think it would work.

I also put shellac on test pieces and that was equally good, but since it wasn't necessary.

Steve... gel stains are (according to Flexner...) pigmented gel varnish. I can't see why it wouldn't stick to varnish; effectively it is just a second coat of varnish.
 

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Roller,
I think your test blocks gave you the answer. You have to be patient when staining. Let them sit for at least 24 hours, especially if it's cool out like now.
Mike Hawkins;)
 

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I tried some test blocks after 24 hours and it worked fine, so I did the table and that was fine also. Maybe I am getting cynical, but I didn't think it would work.

I also put shellac on test pieces and that was equally good, but since it wasn't necessary.

Steve... gel stains are (according to Flexner...) pigmented gel varnish. I can't see why it wouldn't stick to varnish; effectively it is just a second coat of varnish.
A gel stain has a better binder in it than a regular stain but it isn't the same thing as varnish. I hope it works for you but only time will tell. It's too soon to say it worked.
 
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