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Help with fixing blotchy finish

frizzygirl's picture


My husband has just finished one of two Mission style bookcases.  He used Minwax wipe-on gel stain and Minwax wipe-on varnish.  The wood we used is solid red oak, mostly rift-sawn and quarter sawn., and sanded to 220 grit sandpaper.  Somehow after the first coat of stain, a set of fingerprints got onto the top.  I don't know if they had glue in them or not, but these areas are now blotchy (pale) and sticky and uneven.  Adding the second coat of stain or the varnish didn't help, and actually made the problem worse.  Any suggestions for repairing the pale areas without having to re-sand and re-finish the top?  Thanks.


SteveSchoene's picture

(post #110726, reply #1 of 3)

No.  Unless you want to paint the top, stripping, sanding and refinishing are the order of the day. 

Test your finish on scrap, FIRST, or risk having to scrap your finish.

DHAM's picture

(post #110726, reply #2 of 3)

By the time you fool around with it to avoid stripping and re-finishing the top, you could have stripped and re-finished the top (most likely).  Then, you would have the perfect finish the piece deserves.  Just a thought.......

JP's picture

(post #110726, reply #3 of 3)

Once the stain has fully cured you can use tinted shellac to shade the light areas. You can purchase dewaxed shellac as Zinsser Seal Coat,

You must use the dewaxed shellac, such as Seal Coat or the varnish, I am assuming it is polyurethane, will not stick to the shellac.

You can then add a dye such as Transtint,, to add color to the shellac and tone/stain the finger prints to the same color as the top coat.

Another alternative is to add Artist Oil Colors or Universal Tinting Colorants directly to your varnish to make a glaze to use as a stain/toner as well. Just like the shellac.

I recommend the shellac since it is soluble in alcohol and not oil. Therefore if you make the repair too dark you can remove it with some denatured alcohol and not harm the previous top coats.

if you tint the varnish then you may end up stripping the whole thing if the color match is bad.

What I am proposing is simple in theory but takes some experience and practice. I do not believe all is lost with this project. However the fix may be outside your realm of expertise or experience. If you are willing to invest a little time and a few bucks, you will learn a little more about finishing.

Feel free to e-mail me with any more questions you may have.

I will do the best I can to help.