Can I darken my stained bookcases?


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Old 11-24-08, 04:34 PM
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Can I darken my stained bookcases?

Hi,
I am attempting to stain some new oak bookcases. I sanded it with 150 grit paper to open the pores, then applied 2 coats of Minwax oil based wood finish stain in Early American. I was concerned that I might not be able to get a uniform finish, so I only allowed the first coat to sit 5 minutes or so before wiping. I then applied a second coat, and allowed it to sit 15 minutes- the color is nowhere near as dark as the sample, or as I would wish. I applied a darker stain of the same type over it, but it did not penetrate at all. I have since learned that Minwax stains effectively seal the wood from taking more pigment by the second coat. My question is, what do I do now? Can I sand the wood to open up the grain. If so, is this just a scuffing with 80 grit or something like that, or would it be really getting in there and removing some of the existing stain? If that is not an option, could I rub on a thin layer of gel stain, or would that not penetrate either? I wouldn't mind laying down a thin coat of gel stain as sort of a top coat to darked it, but I am concerned that I won't be able to get a good looking consistant finish. I have read about using a tinted clear coat to darken it up, but again, as a complete newbie at this, am concerned about the way this is going to look.

I appreciate any and all advice!
Thanks.
 
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Old 11-25-08, 03:19 AM
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As you now know it is difficult to get wood t accept multiple coats of a penetrating stain. Whenever you apply multiple coats [especially if the stain lays on top] you run the risk of the 1st coat of poly/varnish rewetting and lifting the stain

I'd apply a coat of clear varnish/poly to the bottom side of a shelf and see what it looks like. it may not be as far off as you think. The poly will deepen the colors some. Tinted poly can be tricky to apply and it is best to apply it over poly as it can be even harder to control over raw/stained wood. Whenever you use tinted poly, it is a good idea to use clear for the final coat so as to protect the color from wear.
 
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Old 11-25-08, 06:51 AM
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Is it possible to simply rough it up again, as it hasn't been clear coated?

Thanks,
Sharon
 
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Old 11-25-08, 09:57 AM
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It's possible but any sanding scratches will take the stain darker. Because stain penetrates into the wood it can be difficult to restain without going past the original stain. Make sure you always sand with the direction of the wood grain!
 
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Old 11-30-08, 04:36 PM
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staining

I've learned to just do one coat of stain and get it to the color you want -- it rarely works to go back with a second because the first one blocks it.
 
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Old 12-07-08, 05:57 PM
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OK, I am back, and I am ready to cry! I really need some help here and would love any and all advice. I am going to backup a little, because there is some history to these bookcases, and maybe there is important info that I left out.

I had the bookcases built out of stain grade oak. I hired a painter to stain it for me- I have no idea why, but he painted on 4 coats of gel stain, and left it looking like the bookcases had been painted brown!

I chemically stripped them (swearing under my breath the entire time) wiped them down with mineral spirits, and sanded with 100 grit. Then I laid on the stain (as I descried in my first post), only to find out that it wasn't near dark enough. I also want to say that I used the same stain color and brand on a bar top, also made from oak, and loved the color and depth. I was planning on matching the stain to that.

I then sanded again, as advised here, and mixed a darker stain (wanted early american- mixed provincial with english chestnut to get same color, darker shade) I applied it to two of the doors to try it out. One has a relatively tight grain, the other a very loose grain-the tight grain one took it OK, still not nearly as rich as the bar..in short, still not what I wanted. The one withthe loose grain looks like zebra stripes- pretty horrible. The main part of the bookcase has lots of that wide loose graining, and I want to cry every time I look at it.

I am just at my wits end! I paid so much money for these custom built in bookcases, they are the first thing I see when I walk inthe door, and I don't know what I can do to fix them. Can anyone please help? I am prepared to d whatever it takes,I justwant them right!

Thanks
 
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Old 12-08-08, 03:21 AM
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Unfortunately not everyone who wears whites and carries a brush and putty knife isn't a real painter

Restaining wood that has been stripped is always harder than staining raw [unfinished] wood. It is almost impossible to get rid of all the stain which in turn makes it harder for the wood to accept stain.

Is the oak solid wood or oak plywood? Plywood is always trickier to stain. Solid oak can usually be sanded down enough to come to a nice stainable surface but with plywood you are limitted to how much you can sand.

Short of replacing the affected wood . . . ....I still think the best plan of attack is to get the stain the best you can and then apply a clear coat of sealer [poly/varnish] That should let you know just what else needs to be done to get it looking decent. Tinted poly won't fix the mistakes but it should camouflage them enough to make it presentable.

I know it isn't a big consolation but a lot of the wood will be partially hid by whatever you place on the shelves.... so it may not look as bad as you fear. But it's still a shame to pay a so called pro and not get pro results
 
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Old 12-09-08, 09:29 AM
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The bookcases are a mix of solid and ply- the doors, facings, and decorative elements such as the columns and headers are solid, the back is ply. I would love to just scrap the effected wood and begin again, but the cases cost me around $3000 to have built and installed..it just isn't an option (if only going back in time was an option, I'd be all set) as both of the entire bookcases were effected.

I really don't know what my painter pulled, or why..he stained a bathroom vanity made by the same cabinet maker, for me about 1 year ago, he even matched it to an existing high tank toilet water tank, and it came out beautifully. I really have no idea what he was thinking when he did these bookcases. It really burns me up, and I actually try not to think about it.

I can continue to sand the units down; it is tedious, but doable. How do I know when they are ready? Should I drop the grit down below 100?

Should I move on from the liqud stain and try a gel stain?

If I experiment with the tinted poly, how much stain to poly should I mix?

If this doesn't work, is there something a professional could do for them? I don't know if I am using the right terminology, but something like a lacquer coating in the tone that I am going for? These bookcases are the first thing that you see when you walk in my front door- I really need to get this right!
Thanks!
Sharon
 
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Old 12-09-08, 01:07 PM
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It might be simpliest to buy minwax polyshades in the color you think will help. If you mix it yourself,you need to scrape some of the pigments off of the bottom of the stain can and mix it in with the poly. The more pigment you add, the darker it gets. Tinted poly can be tricky to apply. It mustbe applied evenly! Lap marks, runs, puddles, etc will have more color and will dry darker. Thin spots will be lighter. It isn't a coating that can be over brushed or touched up. When feasable I prefer to spray it as that gives the best control over how much color is added - you can also double spray light colored boards without it showing.

I can't say if a gel stain would help or not. I tried it when it first came out and didn't like it - if I'm forced to use it, I generally thin it down like regular old penetrating stain

I don't know if I'd use anything coarser than 100 grit, especially on the plywood. If you do use a coarser grit on the solid wood [it will sand off more/quicker] you should switch back to 100-120 grit prior to staining. Make sure you sand with the direction of the grain to prevent scratches that will show up in the stain.
 
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Old 12-09-08, 01:36 PM
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No two pieces of wood take stain the same way. Some have closer, tighter grain. Others wider, as you describe. That is part of the beauty of wood. To expect an exact match to the counter is expecting too much. Another thing to keep in mind is that 'furniture grade' wood, if used, tends to be selected with greater consistency of grain in mind.

To sand off existing stain and get back to raw wood will require going through the various grits of sandpaper, from coarse back to fine. Here's a good article about going through the grits: Sandpaper 101 - Everything you've ever wanted to know about sandpaper but were afraid to ask.
 
 

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