Please HELP! Serious Finishing Advice Needed...

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Forum topic by Patrick Jaromin posted 05-22-2009 10:04 PM 1255 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Patrick Jaromin

412 posts in 4339 days

05-22-2009 10:04 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question help

My sister-in-law does interior decorating and is in a serious bind with a client…I’m trying to help her out and could use some advice.

Without getting into the long and sordid details of how we got here in the first place, here’s where things are…she has just delivered/installed a set of new cabinet doors. They are basic, flat, edge-banded cabinet-grade birch plywood that were stained a medium brown selected by the client and top-coated with polyurethane.

Unfortunately, the client is very unhappy with the result. The stain, as expected, emphasized the grain of the birch. They’re even unhappy with the visible joints in the veneer.

They don’t want them painted.

My suggestion to her was to lightly sand the polyurethane top coat with 220 and apply a gel stain—maybe even the “polyshades” combination stain/poly to try and even out and obscure the grain.

Does that seem reasonable? Think it’ll work?

...or does anyone have a better suggestion?

Any advice is greatly appreciated! Thanks!

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

7 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16284 posts in 4725 days

#1 posted 05-22-2009 10:22 PM

Wow. I know this is armchair quarterbacking, but she really should have shown the customer what a piece of that ply looked like after wiping the stain onto it before she went any farther.

That being said, I can’t think of a better solution than what you have already come up with. I’d try a very dark shade of Polyshades and see how it looks.

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

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2658 posts in 4033 days

#2 posted 05-22-2009 10:45 PM

If the number of doors is small and the touch up does not work it might be quicker to rebuild the doors and then follow CharlieM1958’s advise, do one door and show the client. The doors that the client does not like could be saved and possibly sold to another customer who likes them.

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View Patrick Jaromin's profile

Patrick Jaromin

412 posts in 4339 days

#3 posted 05-22-2009 10:59 PM

Thanks, Charlie! I agree with your “shoulda” as well…though I can’t claim to know exactly what they discussed in advance…not sure I even want to know.

One of the “long and sordid details” of how she got to this point is that these ARE replacement doors.

The original ones were somehow damaged in transport after she had completed the original finish work (which is all this job was supposed to be). She’s pretty much a painter and wouldn’t have a client for the old doors

-- Patrick, Chicago, IL

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2658 posts in 4033 days

#4 posted 05-22-2009 11:17 PM

Ouch! It sounds like straight Jack Daniels time! Good luck.

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View Tom Adamski's profile

Tom Adamski

306 posts in 4278 days

#5 posted 05-22-2009 11:20 PM

I wish I could tell you it would work, but I’m a hack when it comes to re-engineering finishes. I do however have a friend in Lisle that can do it if it can be done. Call Cary Zaras at 630-400-9986 (A to Z Finishers). He has done some very nice work for me…

Tom Adamski

-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

View Milo's profile


869 posts in 3826 days

#6 posted 05-22-2009 11:21 PM


Any chance for a picture? I used to do touch up work and furniture repair for a living, and I’d really need to see it before I could advice (advize? sppltt, I can’t spell… ;-)

I’m a bit confused though, and not to get on your sister, was she trying to save time by matching the orginal doors with unfinished doors? I’m just trying to figure out how the new doors got to look so different from the original ones.

Can I see a pic of the original doors too?

Good luck!


-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View patron's profile


13654 posts in 3848 days

#7 posted 05-22-2009 11:23 PM

can you make a small mockup of that door and use their stain/finish , and try your idea .
i’ve had to do similar things in the past , and trial and error is what winds up working .
good luck !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

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