(This is long... sorry.) My husband and I are at our wits' end with our first staining project: a dining room table and chairs. The chairs are beech and the table is maple. The stain is a gel stain that recommended (and sold) by the unfurnished furniture store where we bought the furniture. The chairs look pretty good, but here's what happened with the table:
- We sanded the entire table with a very fine sandpaper, going with the grain.
- We applied one coat of stain, going with the grain.
- When the stain dried, strange arc-like streaks were visible in about five places on the tabletop. We don't think we created them, as we were very careful to go with the grain both when sanding (and wiping off sawdust) and when staining. Perhaps they were on the table's surface from the beginning (created when the table was sanded by the manufacturer?) but weren't visible until a coat of stain went on.
- After much worrying, we bought an electric sander and sanded the entire table down, through the coat of stain. Again, went with the grain.
- We then began staining again. My husband applied a VERY light coat of stain the first time, wiping the gel on with one clean soft cloth, then wiping excess off with another cloth, as recommended by the directions on the can.
- The first coat looked very light, but OK. However, a few days later when we went to apply the second coat (after a light steel-wooling of the surface, again recommended by the store), it would barely absorb into the wood. Third and fourth coats looked almost the same, though the fourth coat (which I applied) is a bit darker because I laid it on thicker-- but once I do the steel wooling tonight, I suspect most of that will come off. I just don't think the wood wants to absorb any more stain.
- Problem: the table top is a pretty color, but the chairs and table LEGS are already done to the color we want them, and they're much darker than the table! Is there any way to get this table to absorb more stain, short of sanding it down AGAIN and starting from scratch with a heavier initial application?
Sorry this is so long but I would be SO grateful for any recommendations from those more handy than I.