Polyurethane fix, ideas, suggestions

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Blog entry by inganmarcelo posted 08-22-2013 07:04 AM 1427 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

hello everyone, I am new to woodworking.

I am building a table, one like I saw in apple store.
after a month of long struggle I finally got to the finishing stage.
I am not a big fan of oil polyurethane because of its shine and non-woody feel of it.
but I thought I might make it work if I applied very thin layer.
and wiped it with cloth instead of brush.

well. it didn’t work out very well. not happy with the outcome. shinny and plasticky

does anyone know how to get that effect of finish they have in apple store?

if I sanded down with #00000 super fine steel wool, will it make it better? less plasticky? and less shinny?
is this an acceptable finished?


Thank you for all your suggestions guys.

5 comments so far

View jimmyb's profile


186 posts in 2373 days

#1 posted 08-22-2013 11:48 AM

I have used a flat finish Poly from General Finishes that I am very happy with. Expensive but nice results.

You can lightly sand down your old finish and re-coat with this.

-- Jim, Tinley Park, IL

View A10GAC's profile


191 posts in 3559 days

#2 posted 08-22-2013 04:22 PM

The short answer: Yes buffing the table with 0000 steel wool and wax will take down the shine and give you a very smooth finish.

The no-so short answer: For a piece you have already finished I would suggest leaving it alone for right now and experimenting on a few pieces of scrap. The penalty for goofing is much lower on scrap.

Finish the first piece of scrap exactly the way you finished the table and then buff it with steel wool & wax. See if you like the finish…if so, do the same thing to the table. If not, proceed to the next step…

Finish the second piece of scrap exactly the way you finished the table, now sand back the finish taking pretty much all of the poly off (but not cutting through any stain you may have applied) and then try wiping on some thinned poly (see below)

Take a third piece of scrap sand and stain just the way you did with the table and wipe on a layer of poly that has been thinned 50% with mineral spirits. One coat of this will be a really thin layer of poly and won’t fill the grain so you’ll end up with a “close to the wood” look/feel.

I agree with you, poly can look like plastic if applied too thick, but I have had success by thinning it down and wiping it on. Out of the can oil based polys are pretty thick, I usually get a separate container and thin the poly with 25 to 50% mineral spirits before I wipe it on. How much I thin depends on how much grain filling I want and how quickly I need to build a coat.

I also label the backs of my finished scrap pieces with the type of wood/stain/dye and ratio of poly/oil/etc and stack them in a corner of the shop. It makes for an easy quick reference when trying to figure out the balance between protection and appearance. They end up turning into prefinished jigs when the stack gets out of control.

Good luck…don’t forget the pictures

-- Men have become the tools of their tools. - Henry David Thoreau

View pintodeluxe's profile


5975 posts in 3294 days

#3 posted 08-22-2013 04:30 PM

1+ wax with #0000 steel wool and wax. I use Howard’s walnut wax. It will take a semi-gloss finish down to a nice satin finish in short order.

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

View kizerpea's profile


775 posts in 2849 days

#4 posted 08-25-2013 01:45 PM

That’s called a satin finish…I use Zinsser shellac applied with a foam brush then u use a single edge razor as a scraper to smooth it between coats then sand with 1000 sand paper after it drys then apply minwax paste wax..smooth as glass but not glossy…just my 2 cents


View inganmarcelo's profile


6 posts in 2257 days

#5 posted 08-29-2013 07:44 AM

thank you all for great solutions. I am grateful for all your help guys. I will upload the photo when done..

thank you

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