Refinishing some wood builtins (veneer). The photos below are of a shelf which appears to have the same veneer; I am using that shelf as a test bed. I have provided several photos in different lights and angles.


  1. Does it appear I have sanded off all of the old stain (from the half I have worked on)? I can't tell, because the wood grain is so dark in places.

  2. What wood does this veneer appear to be, and would it need grain filler to make a smooth surface?

  3. As you can see I have scratched the wood with my hand sanding. I went down to 60 grit which was far too low. I bought a random orbit sander and am thinking of starting at 180 or 220 to see how that goes for starters. Thoughts?

  4. There are some stain samples there. The original stain was beautiful, and in some lights looked golden, and in others deep red/brown. Almost opalescent. Do you know how that kind of finish can be replicated? I cannot take photos that do it justice. Note, I am refinishing the tabletop of the builtins because it has a lot of sun damage, water damage, etc.

  5. Do I remove white water spots just with sanding, or do I need oxalic acid as well?

  6. How would you fill gouges on this? Deep scratches made by dog nails, which are wide, but not so deep they penetrated the veneer.

Thanks so much.

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  • 1
    Just be careful sanding. A long time ago used to glue veneer to boards, some were very thin, almost paper thin.
    – crip659
    Mar 8, 2021 at 18:57
  • Thanks, yes this is an incredibly thin strip of veneer - less than a mm it looks like. Part of why I am practicing on this shelf, where damage can be hidden away nicely. Mar 8, 2021 at 18:59
  • This will likely be closed as being too broad. I would suggest that you head over to Woodworking and do a search in the finishing tag. A good number of your questions will already be answered, and you can ask about questions about specific items that you can't find answers for. Just don't ask for species ID, as that's off topic, even there.
    – FreeMan
    Mar 9, 2021 at 11:57

1 Answer 1


You can probably sand these spots a little more but by hand.

enter image description here

It looks like an oak veneer so deep darn veins are desirable even if a bit of old stain remains. The picture with the 3 test stain splotches looks pretty good to me.

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