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Old 05-10-2010, 09:40 PM   #1
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Fixing a screwup - stain on oak plywood


We have some oak plywood sheets that we bought for a bookshelf job we're attempting. We made a few mistakes that we will not repeat in the future. But I'd like to fix these mistakes if possible as the wood was pretty expensive and I'd rather not have to buy all new oak plywood.

We attempted to stain the sheets of plywood on different days (I know... probably not a good idea) and it appears we did not mix the stain adequately on one of the days as now the 3/4" plywood (the first batch) is MUCH lighter than the 1/4" plywood (second batch.

We have also stained crown and 1x2's but they are the same color.

Well the FIRST thing we stained was the 3/4" and once the stain was set we sealed it with poly. Then we had a long run of thunderstorms (South Texas) and once those passed we worked on the 1/4" plywood.

Here's my question: how can I fix this? The wood in total cost nearly $600 and we can't really afford to buy more (both my wallet and ego could not handle it).

My first thought was to simply take a belt sander to it until I got through the stain but I don't know how deep the stain goes and I'm afraid of sanding through the veneer of the plywood. Is this even a rational concern? Does stain even go that deep?

Could use some help on this one - I would prefer to do it RIGHT the second time around rather than having to try a third time to get this right or, worse, reinvest in all new plywood.

For the record it is red oak. On the 3/4" sheets we were going to use them as the shelves and we were going to use the 1/4" sheets against the wall as a faux back-board to hide the finished wall behind it. I didn't mention but these bookshelves are going to be built "off" the wall to give the idea that the entire wall *IS* a bookshelf.

Thanks in advance,

brich

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Old 05-11-2010, 09:09 AM   #2
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Fixing a screwup - stain on oak plywood


So to understand it more clearly, the 3/4" sheets are lighter, and coated with poly?

Did you use water or oil based stain? What type of poly? Do not use belt sander.

The vaneer is thin, and you will go through it before you remove all the stain, just remove the poly.

Reason I ask if you used oil or water based, is because water seems to go deeper.

What I would do, is grab a sander, not belt, porter cable random orbit, 200 grit, maybe 180 depending on the thickness of your poly, and sand off all of the poly. You will sand some stain too, but don't worry about that too much. Just try to keep the sanding even, don't get caught up on a spot you think is extra dark or light. Once you remove the poly, stain it again. Do a small peice to check results. Apply stain, and remove it within 3 - 5 minutes, to check how much has absorbed. Adjust time from there. Give it a shot and let us know.

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Old 05-11-2010, 09:34 AM   #3
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Fixing a screwup - stain on oak plywood


the fact that the shelves and back wall are slightly diff I dont think will be a big concern after all is assembled. Since you didnt use a conditioner first it could very well be a diff in veneer grain. trying to match the shelf nosing to the shelf color will be important
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Old 05-12-2010, 03:27 AM   #4
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Fixing a screwup - stain on oak plywood


Another easy option is mix some stain in the poly (not too much to make it too dark) and give the lighter peices another coat of poly with the stain mixed in.
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Old 05-12-2010, 08:52 AM   #5
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Fixing a screwup - stain on oak plywood


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Originally Posted by woodbutcher01 View Post
Another easy option is mix some stain in the poly (not too much to make it too dark) and give the lighter peices another coat of poly with the stain mixed in.
Yea but then you won't be able to work it. And the Stain will have to work with the poly to bond properly.
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Old 05-12-2010, 04:18 PM   #6
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Fixing a screwup - stain on oak plywood


Another thing to consider is that when assembled, the back is going to be darker anyway due to the shadows. If there isn't too much of a discrepancy between the stain colors you could just assemble it and see what happens.

AND, this is a bookshelf which I am guessing will have things in it, which will add even more shadow to the back.

You may be ok without doing anything.
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Old 05-12-2010, 04:47 PM   #7
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Fixing a screwup - stain on oak plywood


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Originally Posted by slickgt1 View Post
Yea but then you won't be able to work it. And the Stain will have to work with the poly to bond properly.
Using oil based stain in the polyurathane is no different than tinting paint to paint a wall and have never had a problem with doing it but it was just a sugestion
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Old 05-12-2010, 05:55 PM   #8
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Fixing a screwup - stain on oak plywood


i agree with rickybobby. I would leave it as is. by trying to sand and reapply the stain is asking for problems. the reason one is lighter is probably because the 1/4" is has a different veneer thickness than the 3/4".these are sperated by glue which bonds the layers together.the glue is acting as a barrier blocking the stain penetration.
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Old 05-13-2010, 08:55 AM   #9
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Fixing a screwup - stain on oak plywood


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Originally Posted by woodbutcher01 View Post
Using oil based stain in the polyurathane is no different than tinting paint to paint a wall and have never had a problem with doing it but it was just a sugestion
Unless he is using water based stain with oil based poly. That is why I said thet. I personaly do it occasionally too. I try to get everything to match up before I poly though. Only had to sand off stain twice in my life. Once was because I ran out of custom green stain, and the second batch came a different shade. Second time when I used ZAR water based stain. That was a mistake, was drying way too quick on a giant super detailed window.
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Old 05-13-2010, 11:09 PM   #10
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Fixing a screwup - stain on oak plywood


Thanks for all of the input.

We used oil-based stain as well as poly.

The color difference is very noticeable and would not look good if I built it as-is.

I am pretty sure the color difference is not due to the veneers. I would understand a minor difference - this is major. I will try to post pics tomorrow to show what I'm talking about.

Thanks again.

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