I am building a table out of red oak. After I sanded it smooth, I stained it with minwax dark walnut (oil based) by using a stain sponge. I would wipe on the stain let it sit for 10 minutes and then I would wipe it off. I repeated that 2 times. It started seeping back up to the surface. I gave it 48 hours (wiping off the excess periodically) and after the 48 hours it stopped. I started to apply polycrylic finish and so far after 5 coats spots of the long grain is still rather bumpy and looks like tiny bubbles surfaced (some look like the pop i cant tell they are so small) and dry causing just the long grain to be rough. This doesn't occur anywhere else but on the long dark grain parts. Do I keep sanding and applying top coats until I have a smooth finish? Will this ever stop?

UPDATE - After doing some research I moved my table indoors where it is warmer (garage temp is around 45 degrees) to help it dry. Now I am seeing "bleed back" or stain seeping back to the surface again through the clear coat!! What do I do?

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    Hello, and welcome to Stack Exchange. A picture of the finish would help us understand what's going on. Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 16:44
  • This looks like a better fit for woodworking.SE. Migrating to get you a better audience.
    – BMitch
    Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 15:28
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    Please specify the stain you used (the exact product, not the type), I'm pretty sure I know the kind of stain you used but want to confirm. Also could you please edit the Question to cover the wood prep, how you applied the stain initially, wiping off excess etc. Be as detailed as you like.
    – Graphus
    Commented Nov 2, 2018 at 18:18
  • The question you raise in your update could probably be a separate question. The idea is that you ask one question (or at least a scenario that can be answered in a single answer). If you updated to ask a related question, then existing Answers might be invalidated. It's better to simply raise another question, referencing this one. (Also, the information requested in the comments would be better candidates for question updates.)
    – user5572
    Commented Nov 7, 2018 at 16:17

1 Answer 1


Yes, water based polys will raise the grain of the wood. This is normal. Typically you'd spray the wood very lightly with plain water to get the grain to raise and sand it with something like a 320grit wet/dry paper to knock that raised portion off.

Since you already applied the poly, you could still do the same- sand it lightly to knock the grain off and then LIGHTLY apply another coat. The lighter the better, as it will raise the grain less.

What you're describing though sounds like more than just the result of water raising the grain- you may have applied the poly too thickly. In this case, i'd give it a decent sanding and apply yet another VERY THIN coat. Don't worry- the new coat should blend out the sanding marks.

This should result in a satisfactory finished product. What you are experiencing is exactly why I don't like using water-based polycrylic. That and it's less durable and less resistant to water damage (from cups, etc).

  • Thank you for the response. I will go give it a sanding and try again with a thinner coat! Will follow up with results.
    – Craig
    Commented Nov 1, 2018 at 22:06

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