Issues using Sanding Sealer on Stained Oak

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by Martini1 posted 10-10-2018 04:09 PM 448 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Martini1's profile


11 posts in 664 days

10-10-2018 04:09 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question oak finishing sanding

I recently completed a red oak bed frame. I stained the project using Minwax Honey stain, one coat. I then applied one coat of Zinsser sanding sealer. The sanding sealer appeared to raise the grain on this project. The surface was very uneven and when I sanded it using 320 grit sanding sponge the result was a finish was very dull. It also appears to have removed the stain in some of the grain areas but i can not really tell. I tried really scrubbing it with a tack cloth to no significant improvement. The project looked much nicer before applying the sealer and sanding. I think I need to stain the project again, and I am about to really go after it with some coarser grit to get the surface somewhat smooth again.

I had previously used it on a red oak bookshelf over 5 coats of minwax stain (long story on why I used 5 coats) and on many test pieces. I did not have this problem before. I have also used this product on a black walnut project and I loved the results.

Did I do something wrong? Is this the expected outcome following the steps I have outlined above? If I just slap some poly on this will it return to it’s original coloring? I am not a happy woodworker right now.

4 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


5802 posts in 3151 days

#1 posted 10-10-2018 04:20 PM

Typically you apply sander sealer prior to staining. Always develop your finishing schedule on scraps before applying it to your project, that way you will learn of any pitfalls ahead of time.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View pintodeluxe's profile


6173 posts in 3613 days

#2 posted 10-10-2018 04:27 PM

You can use regular old shellac as a seal coat. Since it thins with denatured alcohol (not water) it won’t raise the grain.

There are plenty of finishing schedules that use a dye, then seal coat, then some other colorant. Usually a gel stain as a sort of glaze, followed by the topcoat layers.

Even the time honored finishes aren’t foolproof. Many finishers get into trouble with wipe-on finishes, because the process often causes issues with the previous step. For instance, the dried stain may lift off in areas when you attempt to wipe on the seal coat. I spray all of my seal coats and topcoats to avoid these issues.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View ArtMann's profile


1480 posts in 1616 days

#3 posted 10-10-2018 05:10 PM

It has become poplar to apply a “sealer” before applying the final finish. There are a few reasons for doing that under special circumstances but I don’t see the point in most applications. You would have been much better off without it.

View Rich's profile


5684 posts in 1389 days

#4 posted 10-10-2018 05:33 PM

The shellac likely didn’t raise the grain. It was probably already raised and the shellac stiffened the fibers and made it feel rough. All you would have needed was to knock it down with some 400 grit very lightly, just enough to knock off the fibers.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics