Wall Unit Project #3: Why I hate Polyurethane finish

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Blog entry by DS posted 03-06-2013 04:14 PM 2588 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Countertop progress Part 3 of Wall Unit Project series Part 4: Counter installation »

I wasn’t gonna do it. The original plan was for a dark Walnut color. But I only had one quart of it left and I knew it was discontinued and I might not be able to get any more of it. That’s not a good thing half-way through a project like this.
Besides, what if I want to do other projects in the house with this color?

So, I opened my metal storage cabinet where I keep my finishing materials and perused the cans. I had already made color samples of most of these and decided they weren’t suitable.

Then I saw it. The perfect color sitting right there in front of me. Bombay Mahoganey. It is nearly the same color as my kitchen cabinets and the accent furniture in the family room.
The only problem?

Minwax Polyshades.

I bought this can a couple years ago when I thought it was a good solution to a problem back then. The color sample didn’t work out for that project, but, here it was, staring at me. The perfect color, the worst medium I could imagine.

How bad could it be?

So on it went. I thinned it down some so it would spray nicely in my HVLP gravity fed gun. It looked lovely! I was so pleased with myself that I silently congratulated myself on such a good outcome.

But… Polyurethane takes SIX HOURS to dry. SIX!
That means, once I put it on, there was no more shop time for me today.
I sat in my family room staring at the partially completed wall thinking I should be doing SOMETHING. But there was nothing to do but wait.

After two hours, I went out to check the top. The test scrap I made was still as wet as it was when I applied it.
Then I noticed it. Dirt, bugs and what looked like the death bed of a moth or some other flying critter—there on my lovely top.

Now I remember why I HATE Polyurethane.

There was no help for it except to wait until morning.

So, this morning I got up early, took the DA with 220 grit (A little heavy I admit, but I was pissed) and I sanded out the bugs and the dirt and the death-squalor evidence.

A quick coat before I leave for work and there is a chance I might be able to make some sawdust tonight.

It’s a bit darker with the second coat, but, so far it looks good.

No more evidence of suicidal moths.

Now, if it would only stay that way for the rest of the day.


-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

11 comments so far

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10961 posts in 5058 days

#1 posted 03-06-2013 04:28 PM

How about Shellac with a Lacquer top coat?

Looking better though!

Good luck…

Thank you.

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5224 days

#2 posted 03-06-2013 04:40 PM

I actually used that same product in the same color once. I didn’t have a sprayer at the time, so I had to brush. It ended up not looking too bad once I got enough coats on to not look streaky and splotchy. But I can tell you I’ll never use Polyshades again. :-)

Your second coat is looking good, though. I can’t wait to see the finished project.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4340 days

#3 posted 03-06-2013 04:44 PM

The color looks great. Good luck with the insects. They get drunk (or dead) on the fumes, so keep an eye out for SPCA! You could try suspending a screen over it. If you really want to hate polyurethane, move to the west coast of Norway. With our wet weather here I have had to wait up to 3 days for it to dry!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4340 days

#4 posted 03-06-2013 04:45 PM


-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View pintodeluxe's profile (online now)


6312 posts in 3819 days

#5 posted 03-06-2013 05:35 PM

Depending on temperature, I have had to wait 24 hrs for poly to dry in a heated shop.
It sure makes me appreciate lacquer.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View DS's profile (online now)


3673 posts in 3426 days

#6 posted 03-06-2013 05:39 PM

Well, the garage doors have been closed since before I sprayed the first coat. I’m hoping the first coat was the fly-paper that trapped all the lil’ critters that were in there.
Maybe the second coat will remain critter-free.

Here’s hoping.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View ShaneA's profile


7085 posts in 3604 days

#7 posted 03-06-2013 05:44 PM

I have only brushed Polyshades before, and I too will never use it again. They have some good colors, which is what lead to it in the first place. But, it is a pain. Good news is, it looks nice now. Too bad it took two tries.

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 3680 days

#8 posted 03-06-2013 08:00 PM

Quit yer belly achin’!!! Ya weennie!!! ;^)

You project IS looking good. You really are getting the most out of that great lumber gloat!!! Looking forward to seeing the finished project! Bugs & all!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View Tkf's profile


38 posts in 2933 days

#9 posted 03-06-2013 10:08 PM

I’ve never used polyurethane yet. But I think you’ll like pre-cat lacquer as your finish. :)

View boxcarmarty's profile


17426 posts in 3365 days

#10 posted 03-07-2013 01:26 AM

Bug enriched poly, I’ll have to give it a try…..

-- My mind is like lighting, one brilliant flash, then its gone.....

View DS's profile (online now)


3673 posts in 3426 days

#11 posted 03-07-2013 10:09 PM


When I got home I was fairly disappointed in the condition of the top. The bugs managed to leave it alone, but the finish “bit” into the 220 grit sanding scratches and it looked aweful. I should have used 320 minimum.

There was no way I was adding a third coat of polyshades to this top. The Gloss didn’t quite look right for me anyways.
So, I did the next best thing. I wet-sanded it with 320 and then re-sealed it with a coat of vinyl sealer. I sanded that with 320 then added two coats of lacquer.

I know, I know, those finished are NOT compatible. But vinyl sealer will cover most anything—and it did – mostly. A few spots where it got thin the lacquer crackled on me a bit, but not too hard, so I sanded it again and applied the second coat of lacquer.

The top looks really nice now, but it zapped three days off my schedule.

I think it might be worth having “Bombay Mahaoganey” mixed in a no-wipe custom stain color. ($60/gallon)

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

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