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I applied the stain as per the directions, waited 5 minutes then rubbed it off. It dried overnight.

I applied the finish generously, waited 10 minutes, then rubbed it off, waited 24 hours then reapplied. 24 hours later I still an able to rub a little color off on a white cloth. I tried rubbing with a cloth dampened with mineral spirits, but did not seem to be able to get rid of the color.

The piece is a mix of birch veneer plywood and sugar pine. It seems that the problem is worse on the plywood. It has been a little humid and the temperature is in the 80s.

My questions are whether I could expect the situation to improve on its own as more drying/curing happened or whether I have to take active measures? And how long should I have waited after staining?

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    This is an excellent collection of statements of fact. Do you have a question?
    – FreeMan
    Aug 24 at 16:55
  • Hi, welcome to StackExchange. Stuff takes as long to dry as it takes, which often bears little resemblance to the manufacturer's guidelines! Your humidity being highish at 80°F for example could have a noticeable bearing since moisture level in the air will be higher or much higher than what they'd consider ideal (which is what they base their guidelines on).
    – Graphus
    Aug 24 at 17:19
  • So, in addition to the stain probably not being dry enough to proceed safely (obviously it won't be dry in any meaningful way after that length of time) the Antique Oil Finish doesn't encase the stain in the same way a film finish would. I think you need to wait longer, assess in a couple days or possibly end of the week. I'd be very surprised if you didn't see a noticeable improvement in rub-off after 3-5 days.
    – Graphus
    Aug 24 at 17:22
  • Thank you. My question was whether I could expect the situation to improve on it's own as more drying/curing happened or whether I had to take active measures. How long should I have waited after staining?
    – Steve
    Aug 24 at 17:30
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    Thanks. I appreciate your help with the protocols.
    – Steve
    Aug 24 at 23:17
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I have run into this same problem with the product in the past, and almost every time I have, it's been because of high humidity in the garage. Two things have helped:

  1. Sanding with a 320-400 grit paper between the coats. This helps knock down the bumps.

  2. Using a fan during the drying process. I use a heavy duty fan, and it seems to speed up the drying time. Once it's aired out a little, I put it in the basement and it's completely dry within a day.

*Something else you could consider is putting one coat of oil-based polyurethane or varnish over the top of it. Wood Magazine recommends trying this in their article reviewing the product.

Here is the review I found: Minwax Antique Oil Finish Review

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    I'm going to upvote this because clearly this Answer is useful. Especially 2 since, as described in previous Answers, increased airflow is one of the main ways to speed drying/curing. But I think there are a couple of mistakes here that you might want to look at further. First is in your 1, I know of no mechanism by which sanding pulls any excess moisture from a finished surface. Second is the "makes sure all moisture dries inside the clear coat" thing; a new one on me! FYI in general if you do happen to lock moisture inside a film finish it's a sure-fire way to have it end up cloudy!
    – Graphus
    Aug 27 at 7:54
  • Thank you, Graphus! I always assumed that the grit and paper helped with light moisture, but you know what happens when you assume, LOL. If I'm wrong about that, should I edit the post and take that part out? Also, thank you for the tip on the film finish! Aug 27 at 11:29
  • If by moisture you do mean water vapour — as I assumed — you can edit that out if you wish. The sentence about the moisture drying inside the clear coat I think should probably be edited out also; just to be clear, that's not to say putting on some oil-based varnish doesn't help in this sort of situation (quite the opposite!)
    – Graphus
    Aug 27 at 18:15
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    As it turned out, @Graphus 's original prediction came true. The rub-off has completely disappeared.
    – Steve
    Aug 28 at 12:40
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    How do you have a fan blowing (especially a "heavy duty" one) without blowing all the detritus of life off the garage floor and into your finish? Are you one of those people that we see on TV shows who keeps even his garage spotlessly clean?
    – FreeMan
    Aug 30 at 16:10
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Finish takes as long to dry as it takes, which can (far too often IMO) bear little resemblance to the manufacturer's guidelines!

Oil-based products in particular are notorious for taking much longer than the stated time when the humidity is highish and/or the temps are low1. Also, with pigmented stains2 some degree of colour rub-off when topcoating is normal — something I feel is very much under-reported in finishing circles — because the stain largely sits on top of the wood's surface rather than being absorbed.

Just minor friction is enough to notice this, but the situation is worsened by Antique Oil Finish being a blended oil/varnish product, basically similar to "Danish oil", and like all such things contains 'some' mineral spirits in the formula; naturally a little solvent action is possible when a previous oil product has been used but has not dried enough.

So anyway, I think you just need to wait longer, assess in a couple days or possibly end of the week. I'd be very surprised if you didn't see a noticeable improvement in rub-off after 3-5 days.


Confirmation from the OP after roughly 4 days:

The rub-off has completely disappeared.


1 Although remember that high humidity at high temps = more water vapour in the air, so high humidity when it's warm can be a much worse issue than on a muggy, but cool, day.

2 Most oil-based stains are largely or wholly pigmented stains.

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