The stain was covered with a couple of coats of Minwax Antique Oil Finish and then three or four coats of Minwax Polyurethane. I think that I used the last bit of oil base polyurethane in the state for the gloss coats.
And yes, a bit of the cranberry stain came off on the rag I used to apply the MAOF. I usually sand to 220 grit. There is one thing that I did do in preparation was to raise the grain and then knock the nubs down with probably 400 grit on a hard sanding block.
To fix your problem I would try the following:
A lot of lacquer thinner in a well ventilated area. See if you can get all of the polyurethane and some of the stain off that way.
If the lacquer thinner doesn't work, then sanding to remove the polyurethane. Again I would try the lacquer thinner to get into the stain if possible and to try to avoid sanding through the stain.
Finally, sanding to smooth (180 or 220) and raise the grain with a damp rag. Cut the nubs off with 2 or 3 passes (NO MORE) of 400 backed by a flat hard sanding block with very little pressure. You'll be able to feel it with your fingers so don't over sand with the 400.
Take a piece of scrap maple and prepare it just like your project. Apply the stain and wipe off in sections waiting 5, 10, 15 and 20 minutes for each section. That will tell you how long to wait before wiping for YOUR project. After you have stained, let the stain cure for a few days. After the stain has cured, wipe on your polyurethane. Don't wipe very hard but apply an even coat of polyurethane. If some of the stain comes off, don't worry as it is normal. Just don't try to rub the stain off using the polyurethane rag.
Leo, you were right about the maple being too dense. I had originally sanded it to 320 or 400 and the stain just sat on top of the wood. During the process, I sanded a couple glue spots with 150 and re-applied the stain. Those areas sanded to 150 soaked up the stain pretty well.
So I went ahead and sanded the wood with 150 to get most of the stain and poly off. I hope this will allow the next coat of stain to soak in better and not wipe off so easily. The temperature is warming up a bit, so that should help the drying time.
I don't believe I left the stain on 10 minutes before wiping it off. More like five minutes. I didn't want it being too dark. When I wiped it off, it looked great for three days untill I tried to apply the Poly.
Update on the shelf: After sanding it down, I applied the same stain using a cloth and some water. The darn stuff was drying within three minutes an wouldn't let me rub off the excess. This is was happened last time. So I put it on and used a little water to smooth it out. It looked pretty good, once it finished drying.
Now the issue. I can't use water based poly because it will lift the stain again. My finishing book recommends using dewaxed shellac to seal the stain. Can I brush the shellac without lifting the stain? Do I need to spray it on? How many coats do I need?
Any kind of De-Waxed Shellac will work. I always do two or three very thin coats, sometimes with a brush, other times with a rag. The Shellac will not smear or alter the stain, because you are using two different mediums. If you want, you can even alter the stain color by adding Alcohol Dyes to the Shellac. The Shellac will dry before you get the lid back on the can. Instead of sanding Shellac, I steel wool it @ OOOO. Vaccum and use a tack cloth.
Now you have a choice. You can top coat it with any film finish, or like me, if its not going to be handled a lot, I simply paste wax it, two or three times. Depending on the sheen I like. That is my preferance.
I've taken quite a bit of time making this shelf just right so that I haven't needed any type of fasteners. Everything is joinery or the four pins in the front. I'm quite proud of how this was coming out till I tried to apply a water based poly to it. Then things kind of went to chit.
The wood is hard maple with a water based blackcherry stain from general. I applied the stain and let it set for five minutes and then wiped it down and rubbed it in. It's set for a week while the temperature warmed back up enough to finish.
I applied a thin coat of minwax polycrylic to the top and the stain started coming off on the brush. The stain started changing from a dark brown to the light brown you see in the picture. Parts of the wood were really dark and other parts were light. So I went and grabbed a rag to try and rub it in and smooth out. All that seemed to do was take off an extreme amount of stain and make my project really ligt. This is not what I was going for.
How can I darken the wood after applying a water based stain and a water based poly?