Any wood stainers here?

So I bought this door at the “damaged door” place for $100. It had some dents around the door hole handle, about 1/8” deep, and I thought I could steam them out, which I did with the “water and steam iron” trick. Worked perfectly, the wood fibers expanded back to the original level and once lightly sanded it was perfect.

Except then I added the stain I’m using, and as you can see (“X” marks the spot), where the denting was is now painfully obvious. Is there any way to save this other than sand the whole thing down and start over? I’m so bummed that it came out so well, and now so terribly.

(It’s a Shaker door, the insets will have oak veneer inset

which is why they’re not stained yet.)


I think you’ve answered your own question, with the stain highlighting the problem, it will show how deep you’ll have to go…

Maybe you can find an old, large lockset that could cover it, but the door guys might have something lying around, else a nice brass door protector to cover it. The denting crushed the fibers, how deep can only be discovered by deep sanding…

Good luck!!


I don’t think it can help now, but maybe if you first applied a washcoat this might have been prevented?

Did you apply a washcoat?


Edit: Thinking more, a washcoat may not have prevented this 100%, but lessened the effect to some degree.

I think you’re stuck sanding and re-staining. Stain will highlight the imperfections. I’d do 80, 120, then 180 grit with a random orbital sander. Use the “pencil trick” between grits.

Some like to spritz the wood after the last grit and then re do at that grit. Gets the grain to stand up and get sanded more evenly. Important when using a water based stain. Personally, I like oil based stains, they seem to add more depth to the wood. But it comes down to personal preference.

Also, if you have a bright flashlight, hold it so you are shooting the beam the length or width of the door. Will help you spot any missed dents/scratches before putting on stain so you are not going back to square one again.

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I wonder if sanding it back to raw wood followed by a few more sessions of wet and heat might improve the situation somewhat. Just because the first round of wet and steam made it “look” good doesn’t mean that underneath there aren’t still more fibers that could use some rejuvenating. Maybe even a week or two of doing it once or twice a day?

Or maybe it needs to become really wet for a period of time followed by re-drying? I don’t know how to do that for a small section.

(This is all entirely a guess, I am not a woodworker at all.)

I doubt it - but do not know.

Here is my take - the original denting crushed the cellular structure (creating a depression or section with greater density). As the cellular movement occurred, so cellular damage (cell walls broken) also happened.

When the stain was applied, the stain not only went to the areas between cells but also into the damaged cells.

With 20/20 hindsight, maybe this would have been as extreme if the door front was sealed before staining – but that also would have limited/restricted staining — something that was wanted/necessary.

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Just for the record, this is the 5th door I’ve gotten from this store - all are damaged in some way and I’ve managed to repair. This is the first one that’s “gotten away from me.”

Paint is not an option, as it has to match the others that I’ve done. I’ve not done the “steam out the dents” trick on any of the others (they’ve required other sorts of fixes) so I was surprised to find that this fix, which appeared “perfect” pre-stain, came out so badly.

FWIW, here’s a pic of two of the other doors (with the oak veneer stained and in place in the panels of the Shaker style.)


The only other thing I’ve thought of is a “door guard”, but that will look very odd on an internal bedroom door, no?

Looks like I have some serious sanding to do. Drat!

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Those are beautiful doors.

I would put in a door trim plate. They come in lots of styles, sizes, and finishes and you could match the door knobs. You could put them on all the doors so they match. They don’t go all the way to the edge so the dent might still be visible.


The other option is to say it’s character and call it done. Heck, you could take a hammer to all the doors and really give your home character.