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Hey guys! I’m new to the page and I’m sorta new to woodworking. This is an antique ice box chest that I bought last year. Do any of you know why this stain isn’t being absorbed evenly? It looks like there’s a perfect line and on the left side it looks great. On the right side it looks dull and it looks like it didn’t absorb the same amount.

This is what I’ve done with it so far… I used a chemical stripper to remove the old finish. Then I sanded everything with 80 grit sandpaper. Then moved up to 150 grit. Then finally used 220 grit. After that I used denatured alcohol and scrubbed it with 00 steel wool, then wiped it off. Then I used a tack cloth to be 100% certain I got it clean. The stain I used was Varathane oil based Weathered Gray. I stained the door and the top of the icebox and it went on perfectly (no picture of that). But now I’m on this side and, as you can see, the oak isn’t absorbing the stain exactly the same. It looks like 2 different boards that were glued together 🤷🏼‍♂️. After I wiped off the stain I put another coat on the right side and that only made the grain darker, the other parts were barely affected.

what can I do to make this evenly stained?
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The Nut in the Cellar
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My guess is glue sealing. Oak is a rather porous wood and the joining process may have sealed the wood in that area, or the stripper didn't get down in those areas. It looks like the light areas are along a seam where two boards are joined. You may have to use a dye on the light areas or a tinted topcoat in the areas that didn't accept the stain.
 

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Hey guys! I’m new to the page and I’m sorta new to woodworking. This is an antique ice box chest that I bought last year. Do any of you know why this stain isn’t being absorbed evenly? It looks like there’s a perfect line and on the left side it looks great. On the right side it looks dull and it looks like it didn’t absorb the same amount.

This is what I’ve done with it so far… I used a chemical stripper to remove the old finish. Then I sanded everything with 80 grit sandpaper. Then moved up to 150 grit. Then finally used 220 grit. After that I used denatured alcohol and scrubbed it with 00 steel wool, then wiped it off. Then I used a tack cloth to be 100% certain I got it clean. The stain I used was Varathane oil based Weathered Gray. I stained the door and the top of the icebox and it went on perfectly (no picture of that). But now I’m on this side and, as you can see, the oak isn’t absorbing the stain exactly the same. It looks like 2 different boards that were glued together 🤷🏼‍♂️. After I wiped off the stain I put another coat on the right side and that only made the grain darker, the other parts were barely affected.

what can I do to make this evenly stained?
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Your process was a little off from what would normally be recommended. After using the chemical stripper you should have washed the piece thoroughly with mineral spirits and a stiff brush or steel wool. This should have been done before sanding. If there was any finish left after stripping, which is likely from the residue, sanding will work it into the wood. It also seems you were a bit aggressive with sanding. Rarely should 80 grit paper be needed. I would have started around 100-120 grit. With oak, 120 grit is usually sufficient. The finer you sand oak the less it will take stain. You did the right thing by cleaning the dust after sanding and wiping down with DNA. My guess is that area along the glue line likely received a little more attention with fine sand paper than the rest of the piece. I would suggest, since you are using an oil based stain, that you add a little to some poly and build the color in the light areas. Don't over do it. Thin coats of color until you are happy. Lit it dry and put a clear over the entire piece.
 

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Hey guys! I’m new to the page and I’m sorta new to woodworking. This is an antique ice box chest that I bought last year. Do any of you know why this stain isn’t being absorbed evenly? It looks like there’s a perfect line and on the left side it looks great. On the right side it looks dull and it looks like it didn’t absorb the same amount.

This is what I’ve done with it so far… I used a chemical stripper to remove the old finish. Then I sanded everything with 80 grit sandpaper. Then moved up to 150 grit. Then finally used 220 grit. After that I used denatured alcohol and scrubbed it with 00 steel wool, then wiped it off. Then I used a tack cloth to be 100% certain I got it clean. The stain I used was Varathane oil based Weathered Gray. I stained the door and the top of the icebox and it went on perfectly (no picture of that). But now I’m on this side and, as you can see, the oak isn’t absorbing the stain exactly the same. It looks like 2 different boards that were glued together 🤷🏼‍♂️. After I wiped off the stain I put another coat on the right side and that only made the grain darker, the other parts were barely affected.

what can I do to make this evenly stained?
View attachment 441401
View attachment 441402
View attachment 441400
Part of the problem is sanding it to 220 grit. The finer you sand wood the harder it is for the stain to take. Toward the middle there is sapwood which always presents a problem. Anyway wood is a natural product and the stain will absorb into the wood from one tree better than another. There often will be variations. What you could do in a situation like this is to seal the wood if most of it is the color you like and put some alcohol based dye stain in an airbrush and shade in the light spots. Depending on the quality of a paint sprayer, sometimes you can choke down a regular paint sprayer and use it for an airbrush. I use this dye stain. Mohawk | Ultra® Penetrating Stain MA520-2036 Probably the raw umber color would work best for your needs. Another option would be to chemically strip it again and this time stop at 150 grit. If it's done right as you are staining it you can use an artist paint brush and add a little extra stain to the sapwood spots. It's just generally a bad idea to have stain dry on the surface so never leave a heavy spot you are touching up. Stain doesn't bond to the surface very well and if it's thick enough it can prevent the finish from adhering.
 
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