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I'm working on an old dining/library table that was pretty beat up when i bought it. I've finished the bottom with no major issues, and I began the last area - the top surface. I sanded the entire top down to the wood, which removed all of the old finish and all old stains (light and dark). I had decided to stain it dark incase the dark stains didn't come out - so i put on a layer of stain (Rustoleum, Kona), and let dry. I put on two coats of Wipe on Poly (satin), and lightly sanded after the second coat with 320 grit block, wiped with tack cloth, and then applied a third coat of poly. At this time, I noticed three water rings had appeared through the finish. :cry:
So here's what I've done so far...
1 - i tried denatured alcohol, did nothing (may have removed a touch more color and/or poly
2 - then i tried the mayo fix - darkened the areas enough, and i was satisfied... so i cleaned up areas, and added more poly. After poly was 'dry' - residue was left behind (and could be wiped off) - not sure if it was oil from mayo or the poly sitting on the surface.
3 - added cornstarch to get rid of tackiness / residue, rubbed it in, and left on areas over night to be sure, then wiped clean.
4 - tried Scott's Liquid Gold to try to clean and darken areas a bit.

So, here's the long process on a table which should have been done days ago... but where to i go from here? These areas still need poly, i can see the deeper grain when i look from an angle - but i'm not sure how to get the poly to 'stick'... because it seemed like the original sanding was when the problems began. At this point, i don't even care if the areas are lighter, i just want an even coat (sheen) of poly. I'm new to this, so ANY advice would be MOST appreciated! Thank you, thank you!
 

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When you refinish a piece of furniture it's best to use a chemical paint and remover and strip the finish off. Sanding just gets what is on the surface. There is no telling what is embedded in the wood that you didn't get. I would recommend you strip the table again with a paint and varnish remover. The best retail remover I've used is Kleen Strip. It's available at the box stores and even walmart. You should use the remover above 70 degrees. Let is sit on the table for 15 to 20 minutes applying as needed to the dry spots. Then as quick as you can scrape the finish off the wood with a smooth broad knife and rinse. I use a power washer with the pressure turned below 1500 psi. The power washer will clean the wood better than anything else you can use. Then since it has been sanded you should only need some minor sanding where the water has raised the grain. Once you get all the foreign substances off the wood I think you won't have any more problem with the finish.
 

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I would give it a lite sand then apply a dewaxed shalack over the area , then put on your satin or semi gloss of your choice .
 

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ricko said:
I would give it a lite sand then apply a dewaxed shalack over the area , then put on your satin or semi gloss of your choice .
I'm new to this - what exactly is dewaxed shalack (name brand option)? And will it go over my oil based rub in poly?
Thank you both for your replies!
 

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I would just start with a chemical stripper. I would first give a waterbase stripper a try, like Citristrip. It's not as toxic as an MC (methylene chloride) stripper. It can be used indoors, smells like oranges, and is water clean-up. I would give it a chance first, even with a couple of applications. I like starting off with the least toxic and easiest to use method. If it doesn't work to your satisfaction, I would then use an MC based stripper. They are very toxic, and I would recommend gauntlet type chemically resistant gloves, a two cartridge respirator, and face/eye protection. Work in a well ventilated area.

One of the best I've used over the counter is called "Aircraft Stripper" in the blue can. It's available at many auto type stores, and dedicated auto paint type stores. Follow directions to the letter. Once you are down to bare wood, you can do repairs and sand without loading up your paper.

I would not use a water pressure washer for a clean up. It can affect joinery, loosen veneer, raise the grain, cause unnecessary soaking of the bare wood, and splash and displace stripper everywhere.

Once the wood has dried, it can be sanded. If you use a stain, wipe on, and wipe off the excess. Don't let it stand. Once the stain has dried, do not sand the stain. Apply your first coat or two of whatever your topcoat is, and don't sand that either. You can sand in between topcoat applications once you have somewhat of a build of finish. You can use 320x for that.






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dewaxed shellac will bond to what you have on there now weather its oil based or water based . then scuff the dewaxed shellac and apply your orginal finsh . They selll it in most major hardware stores, [dewaxed shellac by[ zinnsser]
 

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yes it will go over your oil based poly ,you can get in flakes n mix your own but easyer to just buy a can of dewaxed shellac
 

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ricko said:
dewaxed shellac will bond to what you have on there now weather its oil based or water based . then scuff the dewaxed shellac and apply your orginal finsh . They selll it in most major hardware stores, [dewaxed shellac by[ zinnsser]
Thanks again! I will try this "easier" fix first, before I resort to stripping the top. I'm not wanting perfect, I can always strip for perfection later ;) It looks nice as it is, I just want the spots covered. I appreciate all the helpful comments. I have other wood projects in my future and these will all help tremendously! I've attached a before and after photo which was before I added poly.
 

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Thanks again! I will try this "easier" fix first, before I resort to stripping the top. I'm not wanting perfect, I can always strip for perfection later ;) It looks nice as it is, I just want the spots covered. I appreciate all the helpful comments. I have other wood projects in my future and these will all help tremendously! I've attached a before and after photo which was before I added poly.
When a problem is posted and a "fix" is sought, prudent advice would be a predictable fix...not a band aid. Many "cover-ups" can cause more of a problem down the road.





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Hi once I see the pic , I agree with cabinet man . I misunderstood you remarks.The shellac will not cover up those marks it is best to strip it down again . I thought you were just having issues with poly bonding .If your going to do it take the time do it right, even tho its a little x work you will be prould and wont have to do it again .
 

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Hi once I see the pic , I agree with cabinet man . I misunderstood you remarks.The shellac will not cover up those marks it is best to strip it down again . I thought you were just having issues with poly bonding .If your going to do it take the time do it right, even tho its a little x work you will be prould and wont have to do it again .
 

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At this point if she is happy with the finish it would probably be best to wait and see if the finish fails before refinishing the table again. If there really is something creating an adhesion probem it may be hot weather before it manifests and the stripper would work better then.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
thank you all!

Thank you all, again, for all of the extremely helpful comments. I have learned so much from all of you. I definitely know where i'm coming if I have problems with my future wood refinishing projects! :)
At this point I'm not sure how I'm going to proceed - the spots aren't *that* bad. I may leave it alone for now, until the weather warms up for stripper to work.
I know cabinetman mentioned stripper, and *not* using water to wash it off - which is a perfect suggestion for this piece since i don't want to bother the bottom finished areas or joints. So, if I don't use water to clean the stripper off - what do i use? Or do you just let it dry and the chemicals become inert?

Thanks so much again - you guys rock! :thumbsup:
 

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So, if I don't use water to clean the stripper off - what do i use? Or do you just let it dry and the chemicals become inert?

The product label for what you will use will stipulate what to use. I didn't say just water, I said not a "pressure washer". Water wet rags, or lacquer thinner and rags, along with scraping off what has become loose, are common methods with many strippers. Don't let the stripper become dry.





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The product label for what you will use will stipulate what to use. I didn't say just water, I said not a "pressure washer". Water wet rags, or lacquer thinner and rags, along with scraping off what has become loose, are common methods with many strippers. Don't let the stripper become dry.

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Ah, okay - that works. This may sound like a dumb question... but this will pertain to another future project that involves stripping as well. So, let's say - i apply the stripper, it works, i scrape off the paint/stain/finish, won't the stripper (down in the grain) dry before I can clean with water or appropriate cleaner? (Or did you mean just not let it dry before scraping off finish?) Can I strip an entire large piece in sections, and go back and clean as one final step, or do i clean each section as i strip?
 

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Ah, okay - that works. This may sound like a dumb question... but this will pertain to another future project that involves stripping as well. So, let's say - i apply the stripper, it works, i scrape off the paint/stain/finish, won't the stripper (down in the grain) dry before I can clean with water or appropriate cleaner? (Or did you mean just not let it dry before scraping off finish?) Can I strip an entire large piece in sections, and go back and clean as one final step, or do i clean each section as i strip?
Depending on the size of the project I've done it both ways. Stripper that permeates into the grain, will get cleaned out with prudent cleaning. Solvents break it down pretty good.





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Earlier on, you mentioned "water rings" in the wood. Are you referring to black or white colorations? Are they still there?

Water rings in the wood can be difficult to remove. Most often, a bleach called oxalic acid is used for that type of stain. Chlorine bleaches and two part A/B bleaches have other purposes and will not help with water stains.

If you decide to fully strip off all the finishes--my recommendation if you want the best result--you can try to oxalic acid bleaching to remove the water stains. No bleach will have any effect until you have removed all the existing finish(s).
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Earlier on, you mentioned "water rings" in the wood. Are you referring to black or white colorations? Are they still there?

Water rings in the wood can be difficult to remove. Most often, a bleach called oxalic acid is used for that type of stain. Chlorine bleaches and two part A/B bleaches have other purposes and will not help with water stains.

If you decide to fully strip off all the finishes--my recommendation if you want the best result--you can try to oxalic acid bleaching to remove the water stains. No bleach will have any effect until you have removed all the existing finish(s).
The rings in question were white/light colorations. I have not proceeded on the finish of the table - since it is too cool to strip. When i do strip and sand the new finish off, I'm thinking some sort of sealer over my stain will be my best bet. Thoughts anyone?

One problem with bleaching spots is when I first sanded the original finish off, the top looked great as it was - i couldn't see any spots at all - so I wouldn't know where to clean/bleach, etc.
 

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When you strip furniture by hand if you would use a semi-paste remover it is easier to keep wet with the remover and that is what is most important. You have to keep the remover wet or the finish will dry back on the furniture. When it comes time to scrape the furniture off it's important to work as fast as you can to get the bulk of the finish scraped off and rinsed. I can understand not wanting to rinse the finish off the table top with water, just doing the top. Under those conditions I would recommend using lacquer thinner. It isn't possible to rinse the residue off the table top with a water soaked rag. You would leave part of the old finish and chemicals from the remover on the wood.

Cabinetman's comments about using the power washer is a bunch of bull. I owned a furniture refinishing shop for ten years and have stripped hundreds of pieces of furniture using a power washer and it didn't damage a single piece of furniture. It's not that I was especially careful. I have many many inexperienced employees doing that job. The furniture is not exposed to water long enough to lift veneer or affect glue joints. A power washer is just standard equipment in a refinishing shop.
 

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. Cabinetman's comments about using the power washer is a bunch of bull.
You certainly are entitled to have an opinion, but, you should learn some manners.

I've done my share of stripping furniture, and have tried using a pressure washer, and my comments about it are based on my experience. I've had several types of pressure washers from the inexpensive electric ones to 4000 PSI gas versions. None of them had any controls to "turn down the pressure". The only way pressure could be reduced is to back off the subject. And, even then there is no way of telling how much pressure is being used.

I have several shops in my area that have been doing stripping and refinishing for 30-40 years. Some of them started when I got started in woodworking. None of them use pressure washers.

I haven't seen any procedural suggestions from any stripper brand that suggests using a pressure washer.

You complain about how waterbased polyurethane raises the grain, but say that you soak furniture with water pressure, and it only takes a little sanding. My thoughts are that you have never used waterbased polyurethane...but, that's just my opinion.





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