Frustrating staining problem.!!Please Help!!

Clair789July 26, 2013

I am restaining my 4 yr old kitchen cabinets. We originally purchased them unfinished at Lowes. The are oak. When we finished them new we sanded lightly, used a wood conditioner, stained with a waterstain and completed with 2 coats of polyurethane, also water based. To be honest they didn't turn out that great. Some spots did not take in much color and appeared kind of blond? Got very uneven results. Now they were not wearing well especially around handles and across tops of base cabinets. I am finally trying to redo them now. I did some research and seems like the General Finish gel stain is a good product to use. Found a lot of info that said I only needed to sand off old lightly. Just too scuff. I cleaned and sanded with a 220 sandpaper. Now as you see in the picture they are still coming out uneven. some parts are way darker, especially right where the raised trim begins. Also just blotchy all around. The cabinets themselves look great. The doors not so much. Couple of them look okay. I followed instructions from General Finishes and also what a lot of people had posted they had done- Cleaned, light sand, wipe on with lint free rag, wipe off. So does anybody know why they look so terrible? I'm no pro but I don't understand whats happening. frustrating. Still the same problem we initially had but darker. Also some are not staining well where they were worn around handles and tops. I cleaned with dawn and hot water. Also wiped with mineral spirits. I used GF candlelight gel stain. I wiped on and off evenly it seemed but the cabinets look like i just wiped all over..
If anyone has any ideas for me please help!! Did I do something wrong?
Thank you for any advice.

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Here is another picture, can see here how it looks on inner bottom corners where handles go. Also the uneven.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 8:49AM
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I believe your mistake(s) were during the 1st time staining. Oak doesn't require conditioner. What brand stain and finish was it and did the instructions reccomend conditioner be used with oak? If conditioner was reccomended by the stain manufactur,I am going on a limb and say that A. They were wrong,and B. They said so just to sell additional merchandise,not help customer get best results possiable. Although conditioner would cause conditioned wood to stain lighter,it should not cause the blotching you have. I will go farthur out on the limb and guess that you either A.Did not condition 1 door then stain it but instead conditioned several and conditioner had dried by the time stain was applied. OR You used Polyshades or another "one step" product rather than a clear coat.
Now we come to the present and how to fix the problem. I have serious doubt a professional can make it look as good as it should have origionaly other than painting the cabinets. Once a finish has been applied,it is next to impossible to remove all of it and start from scratch. The old finish is preventing penitration around where handles were. And finally,what is said to be possible with gel stain is exaggerated except in the hands of a real artisian with mucho pratice. I made several assumptions but you gave so scant information to work with. I'm anchous to see how far I missed it.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 2:54PM
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I was also thinking that the mistake was 1st time around.
I used cabot water stain in a walnut gloss now discontinued- go figure.. I started with the conditioner following instructions for staining which I don't remember where I got Maybe the can? . (I didn't use these awesome forums) I used the clear satin polyurethane to finish. And you are correct. I conditioned several before staining. I did not realize it was to be simultaneous -I believe that you are saying i should have done together? Obviously I had wrong directions and now I have a wreck. Not the end of the world but...
I have since then stained a few pieces of furniture and they look amazing! I DID NOT use conditioner simply because I wasn't being as particular. I know the table I did was oak.Guess I need to read up on staining different types of wood....
So stripping will not help? I suppose I will need to get new doors If I can.(The cabinets look great.) lesson learned.. Ouch! I will search out info on different types of wood and staining them BEFORE/IF I do this again.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 9:02PM
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It's a real bomber haveing that happen with oak considering the possibilities it offers. It does sound like you are a fast learner since subsquint projects turned out satisfactory. If i were offering advice to begaining wood finishers it would be. Use Min-Wax products and follow thier instructions. After a few projects,one can start trying more specialized finishes. Pros hate Min-wax but it is very user fiendly unlike many professional products which are capiable of unsurpassed quility that can only be atained with experience and often specialized tools.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 9:43PM
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Yeah the other projects I did I used rustoleum stain and it went on nice and even. No problems. Talked to a local guy today who is a wood worker and he said same thing that initial staining went wrong. He suggested using a product called xylol and removing the stain. Nothing to lose so I used it and it worked great.Took down to bare wood with just a hint of color except darker in crevices I did 1...just 1 door... Did fine sand, cleaned, wiped 1 area with a dark minwax color and it looks good so far.Not real heavy but I like it. Probably do the rest of it and see what happens. Nothing to lose. But just do 1 before I decide...

    Bookmark   July 26, 2013 at 11:55PM
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Oh happy days. I'm glad to hear you was able to remove everthing. Stripping just makes a mess when I try it. I never dreamed that Xylene would strip. I used it to clean ink from old printing equipment and a kid up the street used to inhal it to get a buzz. I must give it a try because it's nowhere near as nasty as strippers.
You can do multiple applications of stain to make it darker. I don't like doing that because some grain is obscured with every aplication(including the first). Clear top coat darkens the color. To see how dark it will be with clear coat,moistin a spot with saliva on dryed water base stain or paint thinner on dryed oil base stain.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 4:45AM
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Yes! I hate strippers. I've never had good luck with them.
This stuff is strong - need windows open or outside but wipes it off with some heavy wiping and I used plastic paint scraper to get in corners and raised part. I am looking at changing the color now if this works. I want just a hint of color so I can see the grain. That's good way to test color since I want to know BEFORE I make a mistake.. Now to choose a color and see how well the door accepts it...

    Bookmark   July 27, 2013 at 9:26AM
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