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Old 08-14-2011, 02:21 PM   #1
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Question Question on Cabinet Refinishing

I have read lots of threads here about using the Watco Oil for perking up the finish on old cabinetry. We have removed all the cabinet doors. I bought The Watco Oil Stain in Medium Walnut. They did not have Red Mahogany. I used #0000 steel wool to smooth and prep the door. I tried the stain but it just looked like a put oil on the door. No color change but less dry. I went back to Lowe's and got the dark mahogany and cherry, even they did not darken the finish appreciably. Not sure why. I was planning to do several coats - will the color gradually build? I like the look of the cabinets I've seen with the red mahogany Watco but now I'm not sure our cabinets will take the color. Do I need to use a courser steel wool or possibly a sander to take the finish down further? Frustrated.
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Old 08-14-2011, 02:28 PM   #2
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the issue is the existing finish. It is not letting the stain get into the pores.
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Old 08-14-2011, 05:59 PM   #3
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For cabinet ding repair, I use colored Watco oil. Apply to the ding, wipe off, let dry. To bring up the finish, I've used boiled linseed oil. It's slow drying but it won't lift any finish I've used it on.

I'm not bothering to fix up any of the finishes I've found in my Airstream. Not worth the effort.
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Old 08-14-2011, 06:52 PM   #4
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Watco Oil is a finish. Watco Oil Stain is a solvent-based stain which may or may not contain some of the ingredients of the finish called "Watco Oil." If you are trying to change the color of your cabinets, 62overlander is right, the old finish is preventing the stain's color from getting to the wood. If you are really trying only to "perk up" the old finish, you might try Watco Oil finish (not the stain). Another possibility is a product called Howard's Restore-A-Finish which can also add some color to the old finish.

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Old 08-14-2011, 07:57 PM   #5
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pics of cabinet

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Color still too light - plan to try light sanding to see if wood will take the stain better.
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Old 08-14-2011, 08:14 PM   #6
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Best bet is to stripe it with wire wool. Coarse first then 0000 fine. No sanding. Or you can try the minwax stain and finish in one. I find it will darken pre stained and finished wood.
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Old 08-20-2011, 04:12 PM   #7
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Jason, I was planning on using the minwax polyshades (stain and finish) on my '69 Safari. The manual says that the cabinets are walnut veneer with laquer. Do you know if the minwax will work over this? Mine are pretty dry and faded on the outside, but have some original finish on the unexposed parts.
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Old 08-20-2011, 04:20 PM   #8
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I don't think you can use Watco Oil because your cabinets already have a finish of some type. Maybe varnish or something else. They do make many shades of Poly-stain finish that you could use. This would be like varnishing but the Poly-stain is much tougher.
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Old 08-20-2011, 06:24 PM   #9
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For the old oak to accept new stain you will have to get the old out. The old is inbedded well below the surface beyond the reach of just sanding. You will need a chemical stripper to desolve & "float it" to the top. Easy to refinish with the proper advice. Best bet is take a panel to a retailer that has experiance in wood finishes, tell them what you want for a result. Far to many posibilitys to advise here! With a little help from a local hardware store I was able to use some of the old panels, new 1/4 & 1/2 ply, and solid 5/4 oak. All came out the same shade, far richer than the original. All with common low$ finishes. Warning with oak. The strips of natural darker grain will darken dramaticly w/stains. Do a little and wait for result.
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Old 08-20-2011, 06:51 PM   #10
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You will need to get more agressive. The steel wool is just removing surface dirt,polish etc. You need to remove all laquer or ureathane finish to give surface enough tooth to accept oil/varnish product such as watco. Raw wood is your best bet. The oil finish is nice and will be easy to renew over over time, but will take time and many many coats to build any depth of color. if you desire a dark color on wood such as oak you wiil have to sand to bare wood at 120 grit stain dark and then follw up with watco or other oil finish. I have been a cabinet and furniture maker for 30 yrs and the finish has always been the most challenging part
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Old 08-20-2011, 07:20 PM   #11
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JLGT5107 - above is correct. You will have to sand off the old finish down to raw wood and then stain to your taste and then apply Watco. I was very lucky when I found my 65 Safari. It had Mahagony cabinets that had only been oiled. It was a pretty easy job to lightly sand and then apply Watco Red Mahagony oil (3 coats and then buffed). It makes a very rich finish.
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Old 08-20-2011, 07:39 PM   #12
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Thanks for all the info. We have sanded all the doors with 120 grit sandpaper on a DA sander set on slow speed. Lightly! Keeping the sander moving constantly and watching the edges. We had some chipped veneer which we filled with Minwax stainable wood filler. We stained the doors with Minwax Stain - Red Mahagony - 2 coats. The doors are drying now. We plan to use tung oil to finish. I thought we could use just a refinisher but the doors would not take any other finish until we removed the old stuff. The "old stuff" was different on different doors. It is very tricky to try to get them all the same color. Ours are not perfect but the best we can do - we are not professionals nor even experienced in refinishing. I will make some pics as soon as I can. We still have the cabinet frames to go as well as the walls. Yikes. Everything is exponentially more complicated and time consuming that you expect. Plus we bought a dozen different products before we found the combination to achieve the color we wanted. Fingers crossed that it turns out well.
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Old 08-20-2011, 08:35 PM   #13
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Everything is exponentially more complicated and time consuming that you expect.
Yep.
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Old 08-22-2011, 07:36 PM   #14
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After two coats of minwax red mahogany stain the color was good so used very fine steel wool on a door then applied tung oil to seal. OH NO - dagnabit! The tung oil took the color off. Good grief. Back to the drawing board. Possibly try some low gloss poly after the steel wool??
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Old 08-22-2011, 07:57 PM   #15
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Sorry to hear of the problems, some more info would help.

Were you using the gel stains? How long did you wait for the stain to dry? What brand of tung oil did you use? I know that when Minwax "improved" their stain formula there were incompatibility issues with other brands of tung oil.

It may be as simple as waiting few more days before applying the tung oil, and I'd suggest using the minwax brand (I like others better, but you won't have the incompatibility issue).
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Old 08-23-2011, 08:06 PM   #16
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Question How to seal the finish?

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Here is the finish after 2 coats Minwax red mahogany stain and a light sanding with very fine steel wool. Trying now to decide between satin finish poly or paste wax. What do you recommend?
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Old 08-23-2011, 08:33 PM   #17
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Fascinating thread. I'm probably old fashioned. My finishing methods are: stain with lacquer stain, seal with vinyl sealer, and top with pre-catalized lacquer. I never use steel wool on wood. I do use it on the bumper of my truck with a little chrome polish.
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Old 08-23-2011, 10:01 PM   #18
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Here is the finish after 2 coats Minwax red mahogany stain and a light sanding with very fine steel wool. Trying now to decide between satin finish poly or paste wax. What do you recommend?
I use a product called Arm R Seal
General Finishes Arm-R-Seal Urethane Topcoat - Rockler Woodworking Tools
for my final finish on refinishing projects. I used it on my kitchen cabinets three years ago & it's holding up beautifully. The good part about this finish is that it can be applied with a cloth, so you get no drips at all. I put 2 coats of gloss on and lightly sand with 200 grit garnet paper between coats (tack between too) and then I put the satin coats on. The gloss has more resin in it & closes up the pores in the wood more quickly than the satin. Also, if you start seeing gloss where the satin is worn, it's time to apply a fresh coat (that should be many years down the line) I'm not a fan of paste wax, but that's just my opinion! Good luck! Looks great so far.
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Old 08-23-2011, 11:02 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by sarasafari View Post
Jason, I was planning on using the minwax polyshades (stain and finish) on my '69 Safari. The manual says that the cabinets are walnut veneer with laquer. Do you know if the minwax will work over this? Mine are pretty dry and faded on the outside, but have some original finish on the unexposed parts.
Sara
It should But maybe try it on the inside first to make sure. Use 0000 wire wool to take the shine off. then try it. You want it dull and a little scuffed up..000 will work too.
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Old 08-24-2011, 03:24 AM   #20
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Stepping back to my previous life as a master woodworker with 18 years experience...

Many of the issues I see are caused by wanting to use low tech methods, such as wipe on and brush on materials. To get professional results you need professional technique.
The stain is almost always wipe on to apply. Some pros do spray their stain, but that is done in mass produced situations. Wiping on the stain allows you to control the saturation of color(gel stains are designed to speed this up by jamming the color into the pores of the wood. I avoid gel stains for that very reason minwax poly shades shove the whole process into one step). You need to flood the surface with the stain and allow it to sink into the wood. You need to remove the excess at just the right time and not leave any thick surface stain. This will only gum up and cause the finish to not adhere correctly. You need to let the stain dry totally. That usually means over night.
Once the wood is stained, next you need to apply a sealer. I spray on two thin coats of a laquer based sealer. The second coat goes over the first about a minute before the first coat has flashed off so they both bond well together.
After that has dried at least an hour, I sand it with 320grit silica carbide paper lightly to take any dust spots or wood fibers off. It is very smooth with no gloss. Next a top coat is sprayed that is also hit with a second coat just as the sealer was done. I let that dry for a couple hours and scuff sand it followed by one thin final coat.
wipe on finishes, brush on finishes, just do not lay down or hold up as they should. Everyone has different standards, and the wipe on poly may look good, but it just is not a professional finish. Applying ten coats of tung oil is not what Airstream did, they shot it with some laquer and moved on.
Now many will say, I don't have the equipment. Go get it or find a local cabinet maker and walk in with a six pack of beer and get to know him. Beer and cash work wonders in the blue collar field. Next thing you know, your wood is finished and you found a new drinking buddy.
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