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Welcome aboard, Mark.

I seem to recall reading somewhere that sanding to too fine a grit can keep wood from taking stain very well. I think 180 was the recommended grit for oil based stains. Tight grained woods (maple and birch) won't take stain as well as those with more open pores (oak and ash). Leaving it on for a bit longer before wiping off the excess may result in making it darker.
 
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