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After staining with an oils based stain, I let dry for 48 hours. I put a coat of water based polyurethane and the wood began to bubble up.

It looks like an air pocket when you lay contact paper. Any suggestions?

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    I'm not 100% sure but this could be water damaged veneer. If the water made the veneer swell, and also dissolved the glue underneath, it could come off in areas like this and look like bubbling. – OmarL Feb 12 '18 at 8:45
  • I agree... are you sure that's solid wood? – aaron Feb 12 '18 at 12:52
  • Did you make use of flooring material for this? It certainly looks like those are bubbles in veneer (and possibly not even wood veneer if it is flooring). – Graphus Feb 13 '18 at 17:38
  • Thank you everyone. I do believe I bought some cheap wood doors. ( made out of veneer?) – Cin Feb 14 '18 at 22:30
  • If they're cheap, they are veneer. If they're expensive they may be veneer. – WhatRoughBeast Jun 1 '18 at 2:55
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If it is veneer, I am thinking that the oil based stain may have acted as a solvent on the adhesive bonding the veneer to the substrate.

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Oil and water don't mix.

If you use an oil based product, you must stay with oil based all the way through. So, you needed to use an oil based poly on top of that oil based stain.

I'm new so I would hate to give you bad information. I'll let the experts chime in on how to fix it now but I would guess that you need to sand off the poly? Or strip it? and then apply an oil based poly.

Good luck, it's beautiful wood.

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  • This is not correct. If you use a water-based stain, you are free to use either a water-based or oil-based varnish. If you use an oil-based stain, you can still put a layer of shellac between it and whatever top coat you wish to use -- shellac is somewhat of a universal sealer. Shellac is not oil based; it dissolves in alcohol. In the very least, your comment is too simplistic and misleading. – Charlie Kilian Mar 8 '18 at 3:14
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    The OP used an oil based stain and put a water based poly directly on top. I had never heard that you could use shellac. That's interesting. However, my comment was not meant to mislead. I believe I am correct in that, having used an oil based stain, a water based poly could cause the two (oil and water) to bubble. The OP did not say they used shellac between the coats. – Bloodroot Mar 8 '18 at 14:25

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