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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Two coats stain in...not as dark as needed... help

Hi, Doing my first “big” project ... a dresser/armoire for the missus ... Red Oak for the doors and drawer fronts and maple plywood for the box... some heavy routing for the door panels and drawer fronts done... All in all, a relative newbie...

Coming to the problem...

The wife picked Varathane Red Mahagony by doing a visual comparison of the box color and an existing drawer she wanted to match ... I sanded 80/150/220, cleaned up with Mineral spirits, put some nice conditioner on for a while ...

And in my excitement did not do a test piece first...to make sure the wife likes the color Zzz

Did all the door panels and fronts ... two stains in ... making sure the stain does not stay too long and sticky (as the book says :) ...

and now the wife says this is not the color she wants... needs to be much darker and redder.

Am I dead now? Are these pieces unsalvagable... is there any way for me to magically darken the stain after two coats (short of sanding down all of the stain)....

Will putting a darker stain on top of the two stains help at all ? Or do I have no choice but to sand it down? If I have to sand it down, how much do I need to go? Should I start with a 80 to remove material and then go back to the finer paper?

Thanks a bunch,
Rama.
 

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First of all the color will change with a top coat of poly, lacquer or other varnish. So take some scrap and sand same as project, put stain on and after drying put some finish on it.

If the color is not correct you can put a different stain on but you may never get it perfect because with the original stain and mixing another stain on top you will get something that cannot be duplicated.

So I suggest you finish with what you have because making endless changes will lead to failure. If you decide to put more stain on try a gel stain. You get pretty much what you see with a gel stain. Just remember it will look different with the top coat. So experiment with scrap before you go ahead.

Hopefully you learned the lesson that finishing is 90 percent of the project. People rush the finishing which makes or breaks a project.
 

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I think you had better start making samples. Just leave what you have until you get a sample made for what she wants. Take some of the wood scraps from your project and tape off some strips an inch or two apart, Put on a coat on one strip. put 2 coats on another strip. 3 coats on the next and so on. when dry put a coat of finish on everything and see what comes out. If it is not dark enough make another sample using another coat of stain then the finish, maybe have to buy some redder stain to put on top of what you have already put on the cabinet, but do all your experimenting on samples. then when you have found the right color go back and restain the cabinet.
Another tip is write down on a pad what combination you used for each sample, so you can duplicate the one you find is the right one.
Just a suggestion.
Herb
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Thanks folks for the quick reply @gdonham1, @herb. Really appreciate it.

I still have to do the carcass (which is a maple plywood). For that, I am thinking that will try to recreate the exact steps I do with the currently stained pieces to get them to match (instead of starting from scratch with the 'new' stain I will be hopefully using). Is that a bad idea ?

Should I just start with the new stain directly?

Here is a picture to show how far apart I am. The piece on the left is where I am currently and on chest of drawers on the right is where I need to be.

Thanks,
Rama.
 

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Frank
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I just completed a project with ash. Used Minwax wood conditioner and red mahogany stain. I think we did 3 coats of stain and it was a lot darker. Not sure why your project is so light.

Frank
 

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I just completed a project with ash. Used Minwax wood conditioner and red mahogany stain. I think we did 3 coats of stain and it was a lot darker. Not sure why your project is so light.

Frank
over sanded the wood and closed the grain/pores...
220 for the initial sanding was too fine... he should have stopped at around 120/150 for the raw wood sanding...

after the staining to desired color/shade and 1st clear coat go w/ the progressive finer sandings between clear coat applications..
for deeper colors use gel stains..
 

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Thanks folks for the quick reply @gdonham1, @herb. Really appreciate it.

I still have to do the carcass (which is a maple plywood). For that, I am thinking that will try to recreate the exact steps I do with the currently stained pieces to get them to match (instead of starting from scratch with the 'new' stain I will be hopefully using). Is that a bad idea ?

Should I just start with the new stain directly?

Here is a picture to show how far apart I am. The piece on the left is where I am currently and on chest of drawers on the right is where I need to be.

Thanks,
Rama.
Rama what parts have you done? If it's just the drawer fronts the maybe consider it a lost cause and redo those. Seeing the caucus is the largest percentage of the project you could do your test piece with the stain your wife wanted and either sand down or redo the fronts. It would be a very long shot that you'll get where she wants starting where you are now but you might get lucky or you might just go further away from the target. What will minimize your losses, redo what's done or continue and possibly fail altogether? If you fail will the project have useful life elsewhere. This is a tough lesson but one you'll likely consider each time you get ready to do a new finish procedure. We've all been there at some point in time.
 

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Using maple on the sides and oak on the front will cause you an even bigger problem. The grain is different and reacts to stain differently. If you put more stain on the oak and let it sit longer it will get a little darker. I would try a different color. You're just going to have to experiment.
 

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I think he's admitted to the mistake in his original posting. It's a rookie mistake most likely we've all made but may not admit to. There are maybe a few that escaped this fate but a rare few I suspect. Knowing and admitting it makes a lasting impression unless you're old and forget......now back to the original question...what size screw to use
 

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Mike
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over sanded the wood and closed the grain/pores...
220 for the initial sanding was too fine... he should have stopped at around 120/150 for the raw wood sanding...

after the staining to desired color/shade and 1st clear coat go w/ the progressive finer sandings between clear coat applications..
for deeper colors use gel stains..
I think I see part of the problem, rp said "I sanded 80/150/220, cleaned up with Mineral Spirits, put some nice conditioner on for a while ...". How long did you wait after wiping down with the mineral spirits, did you let it dry? How long did you wait after using the conditioner did you wait before adding the stain? If it was still wet with Mineral Spirits when you added the conditioner, the conditioner might have soaked in deeper. If you waited too long on the conditioner and let it dry a while then it sealed the wood more than usual.

Another thing that I see is the piece you are trying to match is made from different wood and stains look different on different woods.

At this point, I think I would try a gel stain or spray tint and build up the color then clear coat. It will be hard to match the piece you show but you might get close.

Remember, next time don't rush the finish because you want to see the project finished because you have put a lot of work into anything you make, and to finish it correctly you are going to put a lot more work into it for good results.
 

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I'm in agreement with @Stick486, about sanding too fine and sealing the wood which prevents the stain from soaking in. I rarely sand bare wood finer than 150. I also think that the desired finish on the right is a sprayed on pigment stain, rather than a rubbed or painted on oil stain. Commercial furniture companies spray their products, and use pigmented stains to cover, yet still allow the grain to show. They have further tricks when the product combines two different woods to make one look like the other. You are going to need lots of experimenting on sample boards to come close to that finish. A small finishing type spray gun and test samples like suggested by Herb Stoops is going to be necessary to even come close to that final result. When I do samples, I write the steps on the back of each as I do each step, so I can duplicate it later. Don't forget to sand the samples to the same level that you have sanded your project before starting, but you might also try some samples sanded to 120-150 so you can see what Stick and I are saying about sanding too fine.

Charley
 

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All the above suggestions are good. You might try doing like Stick and others pointed out and on the sample of the same wood work up a sample sanded to 120, and no conditioner and see what that one looks like. Also Minwax has colored varnishes to apply over stained wood to darken them up. The 2 different woods are going to have to be treated differently to get the same results,not going to be easy. I wish you would have used oak plywood on the case.

Herb
 

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Here's a Suggestion for next time (unhelpful, I know) . Turn the staining and finishing over to the Missus. :)
best plan yet...
 

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Thanks folks for the quick reply @gdonham1, @herb. Really appreciate it.

I still have to do the carcass (which is a maple plywood). For that, I am thinking that will try to recreate the exact steps I do with the currently stained pieces to get them to match (instead of starting from scratch with the 'new' stain I will be hopefully using). Is that a bad idea ?

Should I just start with the new stain directly?

Here is a picture to show how far apart I am. The piece on the left is where I am currently and on chest of drawers on the right is where I need to be.

Thanks,
Rama.
here...

.
 

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Consider paint for the win.
Ralph, I was thinking the same thing. Women don't care about wood grain, they care about color. That would be the fastest less time consuming solution. And cheaper too. Take the picture to the paint section and look at paint chips with your wife have her sign off on the color and then take it home and brush it on. Did you know that you can also thin Acrylic paint 1:1 with water for staining too? Micheal Dresdner the nationally known finishing expert does that.

https://www.hunker.com/12002790/how-to-stain-wood-with-acrylic-paint

https://www.prettypurpledoor.com/staining-wood-paint-color-want/

I hope this helps.
Herb
 

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