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I sanded a secondhand table and after I staining it looks streaky. Don't know the type of wood.

How can I fix this?

Pic added of the table before I sanded and one after I sanded and before I added stain. Stain used Minwax. Sanded with a palm sander with 120grit and 220 grit.

Pic 1

Pic 2

Pic 3

Pic 4

  • Those look like crayon or marker marks. It was probably marked up by kids or something. Even if it was cleaned so it was barely visible, without careful prep the finish will highlight those places. You should edit the question and tell us how you prepared the surface prior to finishing it. What sort of finish did it have already? – jdv Mar 21 '19 at 19:53
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    Also tell us what sort of finish you used. Be as specific as possible. – jdv Mar 21 '19 at 20:04
  • Added more info and more pictures – Taira Toney Mar 21 '19 at 20:59
  • Initially (from the first pic I could see, the second photo now) I thought this was a case of excess stain not being wiped off uniformly, which isn't hard to do. However the subsequent pics I think show the problem is in the wood, possibly bruises from previous use and maybe incomplete removal of the old finish. No matter how you've removed previous finish (see my next Comment) you can check how well you've done by wiping the surface with mineral spirits or paint thinner, this should highlight any areas that don't wet uniformly (they'll be lighter) and need more attention before continuing. – Graphus Mar 22 '19 at 9:47
  • I've had to say this many times previously and will have to again, sanding is the worst way to remove old finish. For furniture items it's a good general stance to never use sanding for this purpose, and it's actually impossible to properly sand all finish from some items. Now sanding IS almost always required when refinishing, but it should be done minimally — literally 5 minutes or less may be enough on a full-size dining table! Although you may not want to deal with the chemicals, or the mess and smell, stripping is a usually the best method to remove old finish and prepare for new finish. – Graphus Mar 22 '19 at 9:49
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This looks like oak which has an open grain. Your stain has landed in the grain pores but wiped off the late season wood which leaves a "dramatic" contrast and shows up the marks.

Rather than try to eliminate the stains (crayon or whatever) consider darkening the lighter parts of the table making the stains less obvious

You might try an aniline water stain. This comes as a powder and is completely dissolved in water and will even out the colour. The whole table will be darker depending on the colour of stain and how any coats are applied. Only works if the table has no finish that would have sealed the wood.

The idea is to even out the contrast from the original staining and make the marks less obvious.

After your first sealing coat (I use shellac) you can use an oil stain to touch up any uneven spots. Because the surface is sealed it wont soak in and can be wiped off with a rag dampened with thinner,

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    I think the problem is the cross grain streaks and large areas of unevenness that don't run in the same direction of the grain. The concern isn't the darker coloring in the pores. It doesn't look like an open grain problem to me. The problem is pretty clearly something not completely removed when the original finish was sanded. – Charlie Kilian Mar 22 '19 at 14:14
  • Hi, welcome to SE and thanks for your Answer. We await clarification but I'm sure the OP's query is about the cross-grain streaks/irregular marks, not the darker open grain (presumably resulting from the use of oil stain). – Graphus Mar 22 '19 at 14:22
  • True but the marks show more on the light part of the wood. By darkening these areas the marks will, hopefully, be less visible. – user7117046 Mar 22 '19 at 16:55
  • Yes but your Answer misleading states that the oak's natural structure is at fault, which it clearly isn't (as far as the random marks go). Additionally you go on to correctly state that waterbased dyes only work on wood not sealed by a previous finish, which may be the case here. Answers are fully editable, so you can incorporate any of this and/or adjust for new info supplied by the OP. But all of this may be moot, the OP has been back more than once without further comment or adding requested details to the Question so it may have been abandoned, which is unfortunately very common here :-( – Graphus Mar 22 '19 at 17:53

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