Spots on New Stain Spots on New Stain

Q. I am refinishing an old antique pool table that was made around the turn of the century. It is made of oak. When I bought it, it had little if any finish on it. I stripped what little finish there was off and sanded it in several stages before staining. On the rails, it looks like it has spots, like the stain did not take. Instead of the rich oak finish it looks dry, like there was no stain put on. Before doing a second coat I need to figure out if there is something I can do about this. Given the age of the table I do not expect a perfect uniform finish, nor do I really want it, but this does not look right. Any suggestions?

A. Places where the stain seems not to have taken may have had some residue on them or have been contaminated. When stripping is complete, washing the surface of wood with mineral spirits will reveal any inconsistencies in the finish due to old finish or contamination. The mineral spirits will soak into the wood in all the other places and will shine back where it is blocked by old finish. This allows you to treat these areas again with stripper or sand paper to remove the last of the finish prior to staining the wood. Mineral spirits will not harm the finish or the wood. When mineral spirits evaporate, they leave no residue.

In the case of having applied only one coat of stain and being disappointed in the results, stripping these areas again would present the opportunity to remove anything that may remain on the wood.

Many chemicals involved in stripping, staining, or finishing may have components that might present a hazard to your health or the health of others. You should read and understand all information provided with them or required to be provided with them before starting to use these materials. Proper protective equipment, ventilation, lighting, and a safe work area are important to your safety and the safety of others who may be affected by these chemicals or their by-products. Proper training and practice can help prevent ill effects on the human body. Sharp tools can present a hazard of cuts. Heavy items can be dangerous to move or lift. Some chemicals or their by-products can present a hazard of fire or explosion. Be aware of these hazards and take proper precautions.

There are varieties of harsh chemical strippers along with some less harsh ones from which to choose to remove the finish. One of these may be a better choice for your refinishing project. Be careful when using chemicals. Many of them may catch fire easily or explode when in contact with a source of ignition. Many chemicals may cause damage to the human body through contact with the skin, mucous membranes, or respiratory system. These contaminants are easily transported away from the workplace on clothing and footwear. Be sure to read and understand all labels and information provided or required to be provided with materials that you may purchase, store, or use. Material Safety Data Sheets are available from vendors, so that you may learn about the constituent elements and assess any risk.

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