Finishing Emergency

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Forum topic by JUNECLEAVER posted 12-27-2009 08:00 PM 1547 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View JUNECLEAVER's profile


15 posts in 3569 days

12-27-2009 08:00 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question oak finishing

Hi, everyone,

I need some help for my husband; he has a “finishing emergency”. Here goes:

(My husband says…) “I’m using Minwax red mahogany stain on a side table to match the existing furniture for my church. To get close to the color match, I had to build up several coats to get the oak as dark as possible. The stain seems to sit on the surface and not penetrate the wood at all. Any polyurethane topcoat I apply picks up the stain and lightens the color. Even lightly buffing with 0000 steel wool in-between coats has even exposed some of the lighter grain.

I wanted to have a durable and long-lasting finish, and this approach hasn’t given me much confidence. It’s now the 11th hour and I want to present the table by New Year’s Day, since my Christmas deadline passed.”

Any help will be most appreciated! Thanks so much to all my new friends!

-- Uptown Girl, Long Island, New York

13 replies so far

View Andrew's profile


709 posts in 3679 days

#1 posted 12-27-2009 08:13 PM

If you are having troulbe wiping orbrushing the poly on, maybe you could try a coat or 2 of spray poly just to seal the stain so it doesn’t keep lifting off.
Good luck

-- Even a broken clock is right twice a day, unless, it moves at half speed like ....-As the Saw Turns

View a1Jim's profile


117711 posts in 4058 days

#2 posted 12-27-2009 08:23 PM

Hey June
There are of number of things that can be going on , If you sanded the tables to ,to high of grit it blocks the stain from penetrating, After the second coat it does very little to deepen the color when using oil base stain,
I’m not found of Minwax stain, The problem with the poly topcoat is probably due to having excess finish that has not dried , that’s the same reason when you use the steel wool your getting lighter color . your just wiping off the excess stain that’s just sitting on top.
You need to let it dry totally ,depending on the temperature were the tables are that could take a couple of days to more than a week. Then I would apply a sealer coat of dewaxed shellac and then your poly.

View hotrodhillbilly's profile


4 posts in 3579 days

#3 posted 12-27-2009 08:28 PM

when this happened to me I heat my oven to 150 and put it in between coats also a alcohol base stain works better then oil base for me.

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4486 days

#4 posted 12-27-2009 08:38 PM

Minwax is meant to be totally wiped off after application. Allowing it to build for darkening purposes is asking for top coat trouble. Try mixing your red mahogany with darker stains to give the color you want after its completely wiped off.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 4208 days

#5 posted 12-28-2009 05:04 AM

you could try dye first to see if it will get the color close. you could also experiment with minway polyshades. The tint is built into the poly. I’d try dye to get the color close, then dilute polyshades to create a wipe on poly. Then you could put a couple of clear coats of poly over the top to prevent damage. just some ideas, but unfortunately, the key seems to be to experiment first.

View Drew's profile


350 posts in 3580 days

#6 posted 12-28-2009 05:25 AM

Minwax Red Mahogany just doesn’t work well with poly.

Good looking Springer!!!!


View CharlieM1958's profile


16283 posts in 4699 days

#7 posted 12-28-2009 06:00 AM

Oh just ditch your husband for a man who can really finish. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4374 days

#8 posted 12-28-2009 06:24 AM

get fat people to sit on the benches and invite their fat friends. Before you know it… big f a m i l e e, all my fat sisters friends and me….........o n e b i g f a m i l y…...and then no one notices?

Church work shouldnt be judged.

Thats Gods job.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Taigert's profile


593 posts in 4321 days

#9 posted 12-28-2009 08:27 AM

This might not be what you want to hear, but Next time make up some sample boards made from the wood your building with. Try a couple of recipes, till you get a FINAL finish that you like. Don;t forget to keep notes about what you do.


-- Taigert - Milan, IN

View JUNECLEAVER's profile


15 posts in 3569 days

#10 posted 12-28-2009 06:08 PM


Wow, I’m overwhelmed by your generosity! I really appreciate the input, feedback, advice and humor. (Can’t use that bit about sliding on the pews, though; might get us tossed out of the parish! LOL) And, thanks, Johnny Y (you Rebel!); Billie’s a retired show dog, now a Pet Therapy Dog, assisting in hospitals and nursing homes.

We are currently reviewing all your comments and deciding how best to approach the problem, post haste. I’ll be sure to publish a photo of the altar table (I forgot to mention the Italian mosaic inlay my husband designed for the top; very delicate work…) once we rectify the “Great Minwax Red Mahogany Debacle”.

Thanks a really lot!

Merry New Year!

-- Uptown Girl, Long Island, New York

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 4208 days

#11 posted 12-28-2009 07:12 PM

just an fyi, here is a link to a project i did that used the polyshades product i mentioned. the pictures aren’t great, but if you think there is a good chance you’ll go that route, I could try to get you some better photos. just let me know via PM.

Click for details

View bobkberg's profile


439 posts in 3554 days

#12 posted 12-28-2009 08:04 PM

If it’s that bad, you could paint the piece and then put on a faux grain finish (Is this suggestion going to get a new member kicked out?).

Personally, I detest the Minwax Polyshades line. Their sanding sealer isn’t bad though..

-- Bob - A sideline, not how I earn a living

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 4208 days

#13 posted 12-28-2009 10:48 PM

i vote to ban you bobkberg! j/k. I wouldn’t likely use polyshades for most applications, but to be honest, it was the only thing that I could get to stick to the bathroom vanity that I had sanded down. I’m not a finishing expert, but it seemed that there was something about the wood that was preventing a good bond with their normal line of oil based stains. This stuff did the trick, but I don’t have plans to use it again in the future. If you are worried about wasting good money on a product that might not work, they do sell small cans you could use to test with.

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