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Please HELP: Nightmare Bookcase-Stain Project

7 years ago
last modified: 7 years ago

Hi we installed a bookcase that was custom made and unfinished. I got a quote from a pro that I felt was very high for finishing it (almost cost of bookcase) and so I decided to do it myself. It is in the dining room and has to match the china cabinet and other furniture. Originally I did lots of research and settled on a gel stain by General Finishes, but when I went to the store and asked the guy to stain a few samples of the wood so we can match the color, the water based stain by GF was the near exact match to our furniture and the guy said it is thick like a gel so I shouldn't have issues.

Oh boy did this not turn out the way I planned. OK so I read all of the instructions, watched videos etc, and I am an artist and know how to use brushes and all about strokes and paint. The wood was pretty smooth as it was but I sanded with 150 and then 220 grit paper, used the pre-stain conditioner and this is the first coat of stain but I am very unhappy about it.

I want to note at the outset that I am not a purist here. If I can use a product that will save me time and achieve the result I want, then so be it, I don't care if I didn't do it the way it should be done etc. I am expecting our 6th child in a few weeks AND we are having other workers in the house to finish the 1st floor bathroom and a closet and the backsplash so I don't have time for perfect processes and I am at my wits end with this. I was so excited and now my husband is not supportive for me to continue what he sees as a "waste of my time." I did read more about water stains and apparently they start to dry within a minute or two (I thought I had more time than that), but in my case the stuff starts to dry pretty much within 10 seconds or so. I HATE working with this water based stuff.

So here is the deal. I need an easy way out. I do not want the bookcase to look painted. I just need it to match and do not care so much about the grain of the wood showing, the color is the main thing. I plan to spray lacquer it after I am done getting it the right color. But my question is, what do I do now? I have a ROS and a vibrating sander (on an oscillating multi-tool) but I read that hand sanding is best (and what I did) but after all the sanding my hand is really sore. I do not want to sand the whole thing down by hand. I think I will cry just to think of it so please do not suggest that to me. I am a mother of five kids under the age of 7 and I work very hard just to bathe, feed and clothe everyone. This is my evening project after I have sung to all the kids, bathed them and put them to bed, which usually means I can start working around 8:30 pm.

Please again, this is a brand new unfinished piece that I started with. I sanded carefully for a few nights and just today attempted to stain but the product I think was not the right one for me. So do not accuse me of not sanding or of not reading the instructions. I did all of that. Also the wood species is Alder, for the wood experts out there and it is supposedly closed grain so I should not have such a hard time.

Is there a way to continue with the stain as it is now? Any technique to use or a different brand, or wait for moisture to dry and get a gel stain and use that in about a week?

If anyone has worked with GF stains and can advise me please do so. I really appreciate your help. These are the before and after pics but the after pics look worse in person:

Left side is worse than the right side. Please help if you can. Thank you sooo much.

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