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I put new oak veneer on a table and applied two coat of polyurethane. It now looks as though I should have sanded down the veneer to a smoother surface. It's not terrible, but it the grain is sticking up a bit.

How aggressive can I sand it now? Should I just keep applying more coats of polyurethane and hope it will smooth out?

  • Hi welcome to Woodworking; We could do with a bit more detail from you if we were going to Answer here, but actually your main queries already have numerous Q&Ss here. – Graphus Mar 23 at 16:24
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Oak, whether a veneer or solid lumber, reacts the same way to water based poly.

The grain will raise and normally I would tell you to use clear grain filler before you start to get the best finish. However, you already applied two coats of poly, so it doesn't really matter at this point whether it's water-based or oil.

There's an easy fix: lightly sand with 320, clean surface, and apply another coat. Repeat until you get your desired finish. If you're using water-based finishes you probably need two more coats. If you're using oil-based finish, one more coat may do just fine.

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If it an oil based poly use a fine steel wool water based use an abrasive pad (Scotch Bright) or maybe a fine sand paper

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Rather than just vote to close as a duplicate I thought I'd provide the links to previous Answers on your main queries as they are really not directly related so you'd have to go hunting around in numerous Q&As for the info:
Finish and pitted grain in red oak
Wood Still Rough After Finish
Leveling a finish/finishing the finish
Should I use sandpaper or Steel Wool between coats of polyurethane?
When can I sand water based polyurethane?

Note: if you do this right you don't have to be concerned about sanding the veneer, because the abrasive shouldn't touch it.

And a bonus on wiping varnish, in case you are using oil-based poly and not the waterbased variety:
how to fix very light scratches in polyurethane finish?

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