Yep, I yada, yada'd the counter topic. Frankly I've not provided an update because I'm SO bored with the whole project.
Here's the good news: things are going better (I think, but I'm a paranoid kind of girl so I'm not declaring victory yet) and I think I've identified the problem.
Lest this blog turn into "Wood Finishing for Morons, from a Moron," I'll keep it brief. Basically, I wasn't letting each coat dry long enough. Waterlox says to wait 24 hours between coats, and in most cases that would probably work just fine. But Waterlox's dry time is directly related to the flow of oxygen, and there isn't a whole lot of airflow in the basement. So the finish wasn't dry enough, and then I made the situation worse by sanding it (also not recommended by Waterlox; instructions are really interesting to read halfway through a project), which schmucked up the not-quite-dry finish and then I plopped more finish on top of that.
Anyway, I'm trying very hard to be a more patient person and just let the stuff dry before moving on and I hope it will work.
In the meantime, the incomplete state of the office is driving me more than a little mad (or maybe it's just the Waterlox fumes) and I'm hoping to wrap it up soon. I have the upper cabinet doors back on (although they need some touching up and I have to put the hardware on them) and it's an amazing change so it will be a good thing when I can get this all finished.
Anyway, thank you all for the encouraging comments. And I promise not to write about these stupid counters again until they are all finished.
How about some photos?
Ah … virgin counters. A chance to redeem myself.
I filled the seam with Timbermate wood filler.
But all was not well in counterland. Seems I sanded the wood filler seam more than the rest of the counters and this is what happened. I wiped off as much stain as I could, and went back with 120-grit over the whole thing. Ironic that I sanded TOO much.
Here's what they looked like after staining. This time around I used a mixture of mahogany and walnut stains (General Finishes brand) because I felt like they were too dark and a bit too red the first time around.
Right after applying the first coat of Waterlox:
Twenty-four hours later you can see that the Waterlox wasn't totally dry yet. The following day it was dry but some spots were shiny and others were dull. I just applied another coat instead of trying to overthink it again. You'll notice that the wood filler (as expected) didn't take the stain evenly. I'm OK with it. Last week I might not have been. This week I am. We're calling it rustic. Plus, I figure that's a good place to keep my dictionary.