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I am in the process of restoring an item of furniture that had been painted black, back to a wood finish. I started off by stripping off the paint with Citri-strip and sanding it until it felt smooth. At this point parts of the wood had a pale greenish hue and others did not, but I proceeded, just hoping it would be covered by the stain.

I started with Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner and followed it with a basic Minwax stain (yellow can). After the first coat I could tell it really wasn't absorbing evenly-- some areas were very, VERY dark while others looked more like what I'd expect after a first coat of stain. Apparently fairly dependent on how the wood grain had been cut on each piece. I could tell that a second coat would likely only make it worse.

I don't know what kind of wood this item is made out of but it is rather soft, and I don't know exactly what kind of paint had been on it either-- some kind of fairly hard enamel. It originally had a pecan-toned wood finish but was painted at some point in the 1970s.

My question is what should I do now to get a second chance at an even finish? My first reaction was to start sanding it down again to try to sand through the stain but I can tell it will take a lot of sanding to get through it. Should I just keep on sanding? Could I try chemically stripping it again? Once I get it back down to bare wood, what should I seal it with before staining so that this doesn't happen again? The Minwax pre-stain seems to have been inadequate for this wood.

Also, any idea as to why parts of the wood might have looked greenish? My best guess was that it was a byproduct of the paint, but I don't know.

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    We could do with some pics ideally. An overall shot and some details of the wood closer up would be helpful. – Graphus Jan 8 '18 at 8:10
  • Re. the wood type, you in North America? If so decent chance the wood is poplar. – Graphus Jan 8 '18 at 8:10
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A stripper will remove the surface paint but will not remove any of the original paint that has penetrated into the grain. For that, you must sand it down. The fact that the stain was not absorbing evenly indicates one or both of the following: 1. The wood is a soft wood such as pine which naturally absorbs much more in the soft areas of the grain and less in the denser areas. 2. The original paint has not been fully removed. The fact that you still had some color remaining after stripping suggests that this very well may have been a factor for uneven absorption.

In order to get an even stain finish it will be necessary to remove all of the original paint remnants and the uneven new stain that has been absorbed into the wood. This means sanding down to clear wood. Thereafter I would recommend using a conditioner which will help avoid splotching, especially in soft woods.

I would also suggest that you prepare an unseen area of the piece to test the application of the stain before proceeding with the whole piece.

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