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scratches in finish

by swimbill
posted 09-17-2018 07:32 PM

3 replies so far

View therealSteveN's profile (online now)


4332 posts in 1139 days

#1 posted 09-17-2018 08:46 PM

I can’t say I have had this problem when I have used Waterlox, which was before swapping to General Finishes products. My problem was always getting the “tung” to dry.

Back when I did I found their customer service to be very good. Here is a sheet with tips, and info on contacting them.

You probably did all of the correct level of prep, but for others who come behind put down your pre use prep. IE:

Sanded to what grit, and with what? ROS, hand block, etc.

Did you raise the grain before getting to finish, if you did what did you knock it down to?

What do the scratches look like, swirls, or straight line?

Tools to flatten, if Jointer and Planer, Wide belt sander are you seeing a notable streak after the wood goes through?

Just off the top of my head, and only because I just pitched an almost new ROS, a newer DeWalley. It left an awful streak pattern with each revolution, and it would have clearly telegraphed through to the finish if I hadn’t caught it. I bought a new Bosch this one and it does a great job. So it’s possible it could be the sander you are using.

Basically from the info you have given there could be a number of reasons why you could be seeing this. My gut tells me it’s the pre finish prep though, rather than a finish application situation.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Rich's profile


5001 posts in 1154 days

#2 posted 09-17-2018 11:03 PM

I am finishing a Maple table with Waterlox Sealer /Finish. I have sanded down to 0000 steel wool between coats but the sanding scratches continue to show through. I am applying the finish with a lambs wool applicator. To say the least it is very frustrating. Has anyone else experienced this and how can I fix it without sanding it back to bare wood?

- swimbill

I assume your scratches are from the initial sanding. If you skipped grits and left deeper scratches from coarser paper, then you’ll have difficulty getting them filled with Waterlox Original alone. It just doesn’t build enough of a film to cover those very quickly. You’ll get there eventually, but, depending on the wood and how bad the scratches are, while you might get a smooth surface on your finish, in the right light those scratches can still telegraph through because of the way the light shows through the finish. For table tops I like to do my final passes with a block in the direction of the grain. That way, the scratches are less visible due to the grain. Maybe less so in maple however.

If you switch to their urethane, you’ll get a faster build. Like I said though, while you might get a finish that looks perfect in raked light, in real world lighting you might still perceive some irregularities.

BTW, using Waterlox Original topped with 3 or 4 coats of their urethane is a good combination since you get the depth from the oil in the original and the durability of the urethane.

View bilyo's profile


910 posts in 1667 days

#3 posted 09-17-2018 11:18 PM

I think that therealStevenN has it correct. The problem is somewhere in your prep process. I don’t know where you started sanding, but the process is to start with a coarse grit and work to a fine grit in gradual steps. Each step should continue until all the scratches from the previous grit are gone before proceeding to the next finer. It sounds like one of the coarser grits was not thorough enough. You will need to go back to that grit and continue until the problem scratches are gone. Then proceed to the next finer and so on. You should not need to proceed to 0000 steel wool. On maple, in prep for Waterlox, 220 grit should be enough. If the scratches are in one of the coats of Waterlox, the process is the same, but you may start with a finer grit. If you are applying Waterlox over an old finish and the scratches are in the old finish then you will need to go all the way back, removing the Waterlox, and sand out the scratches.

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