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Old 10-27-2011, 10:15 AM   #1
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Staining project - Did I do something wrong - Need help.


I need help with my staining project.

I have a new piece of birch [COLOR=blue !important][COLOR=blue !important]butcher [COLOR=blue !important]block[/COLOR][/COLOR][/COLOR] (from IKEA) that I wanted to stain to use as a bartop. I sanded down the piece using first 120 grit, then 220 grit on a palm grit sander to remove the coating on the butcher block. Then I applied Minwax prestain with a foam brush and wiped off the excess. About 20 minutes later I applied Minwax stain (English Cheustnut) with a foam brush and wiped it off 5-10 minutes later.

If you see the attached picture it shows that the stain had black streaks on the piece.

My only other time staining, I stained birch veneer plywood using the same technique above (sand down to 220, prestain, stain with English Chestnut), wipe off) and it looked a lot different - see shelf.jpg.

Did I do something wrong? On the butcher block I was expecting a more even color without the black streaks. I don't have enough experience to know what may have gone wrong. Or is that just the way two different pieces of wood will look?

Any help is appreciated.

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Old 10-27-2011, 10:55 AM   #2
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Staining project - Did I do something wrong - Need help.


I think your problem could be that you have disrupted the wood grain and have it moving in all directions. This is what a palm sander would do because they are realy moving in an orbit and not a straight line. You must sand in a straight line WITH the direction of the grain.

I would mechanically sand the peice again to take it back to raw wood fibers and then use a semi-soft sanding block to hand sand the piece but only sand in the direction of the grain.

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Old 10-30-2011, 09:42 PM   #3
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Staining project - Did I do something wrong - Need help.


Birch is closed grain. You have found out that it will not take stain evenly.

May I ask you are you using prestain in oil base or water?
The prestain directions are wrong( especially Minwax cans), they tell you to apply within the 2 hours.
In fact you must wait for it to dry completely.

Re sand the surface again with 60 grit and remove the stain and all the way up to 220. Then apply the prestain, let dry completely, apply stain.
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Old 11-02-2011, 08:28 PM   #4
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Staining project - Did I do something wrong - Need help.


You mention that the piece was coated when you started the sanding process. What was it coated with? To me it looks like in fact you did not get all of the existing finish off. See how the black part feathers in areas to the edge, but then the lip of the edge is clear? That tells me that you were easing off on the sanding for fear of rounding the edge and you did not get all the finish off. I think the black is in fact the old finish reacting in some way with the stain.

A palm sander is actually not a great tool for taking off finish because it is spending a lot of time going perpendicular to the grain. It's ok for taking it down afterward and getting your surface flat and even, but I would not hit it with the palm sander until I had all the finish off, sanding with wth grain. And as mentioned, do your final sand by hand with the grain as well.
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Old 11-03-2011, 01:10 AM   #5
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Staining project - Did I do something wrong - Need help.


Instead of sanding the stain out I would wash it out with acetone or lacquer thinner. After that I would work my way up through the sanding grits - don't press down to hard on the sander. Just let it ride evenly across the block. On something as light is that I would use a natural stain with a touch of that english chestnut - that may help out with the dark pigments sinking in the grain like that. Also I would apply the stain with a well soaked rag then wipe it off faster than the directions, some times that will help the pigments in the stain from turning muddy on the surface and blend in more evenly.
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