I'm making a ledge for a half wall. The top is maple veneer and there's a 2" overhang of solid maple. Earlier we made some trim around recessed wall boxed out of the same solid maple pieces. We used Minwax wood conditioner and Minwax cherry penetrating stain on it and it still came out very blotchy with some some places barely taking any stain at all. After much effort, we finally got a fairly uniform finish.
We asked the guy that built the ledge if he uses wood conditioner and he said he just uses straight stain so that's what we did. The stain on the solid wood sections is not even at all with lots of dark spaces and others that barely color at all. The veneer sections isn't as varied but it doesn't look good and the contrast between it and the solid wood sections is marked.
Any suggestions as to how to rescue this? After researching some, I tried taking some mineral spirits to the darker areas the next morning and got a little of the stain off but nothing major. Would sanding to finer grit have made it more even? We used 180 followed by 220 grit. Can I sand it down and start over or does the stain get too deep for the veneer? Can I just sand the darker portions and reapply there to help even it out? How do I get stain to absorb in the lighter areas that don't want to take it? We thought the wood conditioner was blocking the absorption before but obviously that's not it.
I found out afterward that this is pretty common with maple. This is especially annoying since I picked maple instead of oak trying to get away from a heavy grain look. Now I've got big splotches ;-( I was going to just give up and put poly on it yesterday but it will drive me crazy like that.