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View Redvan's profile

Wipe-on finish (poly)

by Redvan
posted 10-20-2018 04:20 PM


27 replies so far

View jmos's profile

jmos

916 posts in 2905 days


#1 posted 10-20-2018 04:36 PM

Yes, you can certainly apply a wipe-on poly with a rag. I’ve done it many times. Works great. This should be done with a wipe-on poly, rather than straight from the can. You can make your own wipe-on by diluting the ply from the can with mineral spirits (for an oil based poly of course.)

As far as getting that killer smooth finish, look up ‘rubbing out a finish.’ You need to finish the finish by using abrasives to take off some of the finish you just applied, making it completely smooth, level, and with a uniform sheen. You can rub out to any sheen you like. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a finish off the brush, or rag, that is better than a finish that is rubber out. I don’t spray, so maybe that can get there; I’m not sure. A french polish incorporates the abrasive in the process.

Charles Neil has some great Youtube videos.

Not saying you have to rub out your finish. Many are acceptable off the brush, or rag, especially if you do some sanding before the final coat. All depends on what you are looking for.

-- John

View WoodenDreams's profile

WoodenDreams

791 posts in 446 days


#2 posted 10-20-2018 04:45 PM

jmos has good advise. We rub in the stain and brush on 4 coats of poly in our work, sanding between coats.

View diverlloyd's profile

diverlloyd

3675 posts in 2392 days


#3 posted 10-20-2018 04:47 PM

I use rags just remember not to throw the rags away until they are dry, you don’t want a shop fire.I lay mine flat out side over night before tossing them out.

View bilyo's profile

bilyo

868 posts in 1638 days


#4 posted 10-20-2018 05:26 PM

One of my favorite finishes is a mix of 1 part BLO, one part MS, and one part Poly (oil based). I use a folded piece of blue towel to apply it. Or, I may rub it in with wet/dry sandpaper. The latter works up a bit of slurry that will tend to fill pores and minor imperfections. Wipe off excess before it sets up. Let it dry 24 hours or so and repeat. Decrease the amount of BLO a bit and increase the Poly if you want it to build thickness quicker and be a bit more durable. In the end, it will not be the most durable finish, but it is easy to apply and looks great. Rubbing the final coat with 600 grit wet/dry and then a coat of paste wax will give a velvet smooth finish. I have some pieces with this finish that get normal use and the finish has held up nicely for many years.
As mentioned above, you can apply wipe-on poly (or thin reg poly w/50% MS) with the same blue towel (fold into a little pad and use it like a foam brush) The idea is to spread it on as thinly as you can. The down side is that you will need more coats this way. Rubbing it in w/wet-dry sandpaper is problematic because it drys too fast. But sanding between coats gives similar results. Applying this way eliminates problems with brush marks.

View Redoak49's profile

Redoak49

4232 posts in 2524 days


#5 posted 10-20-2018 05:50 PM

I have two comments

—- If you are getting runs and dribbles, it is not the fault of the finish or the instructions. You are likely putting it on too heavy. Try thinner coats and some patience. I put on poly with a foam brush all the time. It takes some practice.

—I also use wipe on poly typically as a final coat or two. But, you need to put on thin coats with long strokes.

In both cases, it takes some practice and experience.

View Redvan's profile

Redvan

13 posts in 581 days


#6 posted 10-20-2018 06:39 PM

Wow, thank YOU.

But, BLO?

I wasn’t blaming anyone for the dribbles and run – clearly my fault.

So, polyurethane that says to apply with a brush of some sort is not wipable?

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

7499 posts in 2734 days


#7 posted 10-20-2018 06:46 PM

I gave up fighting runs, brush marks, dribbles, dust and other problems with Poly years ago – and now just do wipe-on, which I consider a super easy, near fool-proof finish. Made from 50/50 mix of gloss poly and mineral spirits, applied with cut up old t-shirts.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Rich's profile

Rich

5001 posts in 1124 days


#8 posted 10-20-2018 06:55 PM


Wow, thank YOU.

But, BLO?

I wasn t blaming anyone for the dribbles and run – clearly my fault.

So, polyurethane that says to apply with a brush of some sort is not wipable?

- Redvan

That was covered as well by billyo. He said to thin regular poly 50/50 with mineral spirits to make a wiping finish. Actually, given that most of the mineral spirits you buy these days is “low odor” and the main solvents you’d want in there have been removed to appease the VOC police, I’d recommend thinning with paint thinner or turpentine instead. That’s also assuming it’s oil based poly.

When you add the BLO, you’re making a home made oil/varnish blend. It’s everyone’s uncle’s secret finish formula that he told no one but them and made them promise to never share the secret.

View bilyo's profile

bilyo

868 posts in 1638 days


#9 posted 10-20-2018 07:28 PM

Wow, thank YOU.

But, BLO?

I wasn t blaming anyone for the dribbles and run – clearly my fault.

So, polyurethane that says to apply with a brush of some sort is not wipable?

- Redvan

That was covered as well by billyo. He said to thin regular poly 50/50 with mineral spirits to make a wiping finish. Actually, given that most of the mineral spirits you buy these days is “low odor” and the main solvents you d want in there have been removed to appease the VOC police, I d recommend thinning with paint thinner or turpentine instead. That s also assuming it s oil based poly.

When you add the BLO, you re making a home made oil/varnish blend. It s everyone s uncle s secret finish formula that he told no one but them and made them promise to never share the secret.

- Rich


Yes. The BLO makes the mix flow smoothly and dry more slowly so that you can apply it thinly and work it some with the wet/dry sandpaper. You can substitute tung oil for the BLO if you want a lighter color. I also like to substitued turpentine for MS because I like the smell better. You can also add a very small amount of japan dryer if you want the whole thing to dry faster (not too much. Follow directions)

From my experience, I think you are asking for trouble trying to wipe regular poly straight from the can.

View Redoak49's profile

Redoak49

4232 posts in 2524 days


#10 posted 10-20-2018 08:37 PM

I tried mixing my own own and came up with a super secret formula that is perfect. But it was a pain in the back side to find “real” mineral spirits. So, I just use Minwax wiping poly. It is almost as good as my secret version. The only problem with my secret version is that it does not work on Alder.

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

5414 posts in 2844 days


#11 posted 10-20-2018 09:02 PM



I tried mixing my own own and came up with a super secret formula that is perfect. But it was a pain in the back side to find “real” mineral spirits. So, I just use Minwax wiping poly. It is almost as good as my secret version. The only problem with my secret version is that it does not work on Alder.

- Redoak49


Alder wood needs no finish. Don’t mess with mother nature

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Redvan's profile

Redvan

13 posts in 581 days


#12 posted 10-20-2018 09:13 PM

Ok,
lets try that again… What is BLO?

View lumbering_on's profile

lumbering_on

578 posts in 1025 days


#13 posted 10-20-2018 09:18 PM



Ok,
lets try that again… What is BLO?

- Redvan

Boiled Linseed Oil.

View Redvan's profile

Redvan

13 posts in 581 days


#14 posted 10-20-2018 10:03 PM

Thank you.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11870 posts in 3964 days


#15 posted 10-21-2018 01:06 AM

Watco and poly, 50/50 first coat. Applied with cloth or blue paper shop towels. Increase the poly by approximately 1/3 for second coat and each succeeding application. When fully cured, rub down with Liberon 0000 and Johnson’s Paste Wax. Then buff.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View msinc's profile

msinc

567 posts in 1039 days


#16 posted 10-21-2018 01:54 AM

So, polyurethane that says to apply with a brush of some sort is not wipable?
- Redvan

I generally brush on several coats sanding in between and spray the final. This is the quickest way I have found to get a nice finish. That said, I have wiped on a lot of poly {as well as oil finish} in my day and I have never cut it with anything. Take a rag, wipe it on, let it dry repeat….about fifty times. It ain’t fast, but it is pretty much fool proof. The finest British made double guns are finished this way {known as London oil} and they start at about $60,000.00 each. If you go with hand rubbed just keep putting it on until you get the finish you want. Eventually you will want to rub it down between coats with some #0000 steel wool or rubbing compound on a felt pad. Nothing else can compare when it is right. Sometimes the simplest way is the best way. Good luck.

Edit: I think it’s MinWax that makes a “wipe on” poly. It does work pretty good if you don’t want to try just wiping on regular poly.

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

7504 posts in 3903 days


#17 posted 10-21-2018 05:47 PM

I use lambs wool, the same that is used by pro floor finishers, I my opinio, better than brushes or rags.
I cut one of these to size and vacuum off any “fuzz” resulting from the cutting.
The wool holds a lot of finish!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View the_other_ken's profile

the_other_ken

38 posts in 3510 days


#18 posted 10-21-2018 06:04 PM

You can also cut the oil based poly with naphtha instead of mineral spirits for making your own wipe-on finish. I think this is what MinWax uses for the quick drying wipe-on. It is a little more volatile so it will evaporate a little quicker…less chance for dust to settle. Naphtha is commonly used with those camping stoves so look for it in the camping section. The stuff I have is made by Coleman.

Give a light sanding with 320 before the final coat, then put the last coat on real thin. Be very careful if your project is stained if you sand between coats. I usually put on two wipe-on coats before I sand the finish as it is very easy to sand though these thin coats.

View Charlie H.'s profile

Charlie H.

388 posts in 1185 days


#19 posted 10-21-2018 07:08 PM

I build small decorative boxes, not furniture so the small scale lends itself well to using straight up MinWax gloss polyurethane applied with a paper towel, let it soak in for a little while and then rub it off with more paper towels.
After it dries I use a white 3M pad to smooth it up and reapply more polyurethane the same way.
Two maybe three applications gives a very smooth low sheen finish.
A couple applications of paste wax rubbed on with a white 3M pad and buffed with a microfiber towel makes it feel silky soft to the touch.

-- Regards, Charlie in Rowlett, TX --------I talk to myself, because sometimes I need expert advice.---------

View Karda's profile

Karda

1765 posts in 1089 days


#20 posted 10-22-2018 01:11 AM

what is the difference between mineral spirits and paint thinner

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

7499 posts in 2734 days


#21 posted 10-22-2018 01:20 AM

what is the difference between mineral spirits and paint thinner
- Karda

Sometimes, nothing :)

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View TheTimberAlchemist's profile

TheTimberAlchemist

19 posts in 389 days


#22 posted 10-22-2018 12:13 PM

I’m definitely a fan of the gloss Danish oil can provide. It definitely takes a lot of patience and time, but well worth it. Wipe first coat generously, let sit for about 5 or 10 minutes and wipe extra off. Apply 3 or for more coats with a little less Danish oil and a waiting period of 48 hours between coats. Make sure to wipe excess off after 5 minutes or so with each coat. Good luck!

View Redvan's profile

Redvan

13 posts in 581 days


#23 posted 10-29-2018 05:47 PM

Wow, WHAT a difference using wipe-on poly made to my project!
I will never go back to a brush ever again.

Thank you all very much for your time and advice.
Mike

View CWWoodworking's profile

CWWoodworking

528 posts in 714 days


#24 posted 10-30-2018 03:25 AM

Have you tried spraying precat lacquer? If you have the right environment, it is extremely easy to apply. IMO, much easier than any wipe on finish.

View SMP's profile

SMP

1419 posts in 441 days


#25 posted 10-31-2018 12:36 PM

If you don’t feel like messing with mixing stuff up, i have had good luck with Minwax Antique Oil finish. Its forgiving and looks great when applied with 600 grit wet dry sandpaper. I use 3-4 coats, you can gradually increase the grit of the paper for a finer finish. You basically make the slurry particles smaller each step.

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2437 posts in 2525 days


#26 posted 11-01-2018 03:04 PM

Redvan, some further enhancements to wipe – you can mix oil soluable dyes (I use wd lockwood) directly into the wo poly to add color, which adds to chatoyance, depth, etc. Not the best way for very intense color but excellent for hilighting. Just play with different ratios of dye & poly. I use naptha to dissolve the dye.

For raw wood, 1st condition the wood – read here – if needed (pine, maple, cherry, poplar). Leave the sanding dust from the finish sanding. Apply the poly like a danish oil for the 1st 2 coats, flood on, keep wet for ~10 min, wipe off. The dust will help fill and is all wiped off with the poly. Can be wet sanded as well, and with the dye there is no worry about sanding thru the color. Add wipe on coats as desired with or w/o dye in it.

Test everything before touching a new project for finishing.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23521 posts in 3641 days


#27 posted 11-01-2018 06:08 PM

It depends on the project ( size and shape) and finish desired . They make a Wipe On poly in satin and gloss and it goes on thin and takes many coats to build, but you get no runs at all. The regular liquid poly can be wiped on with a rag, or put on with a foam or bristle brush, but like every one said, light coats .

Some thing are better sprayed if there are slats or rungs that induce a run when you brush at the end of the rung. Spray poly is great ( not too cheap though) for a finish coat, but beware of the instructions. If they say wait 72 hrs or 5 days to recoat, they REALLY mean it. If you respray too soon it will wrinkle the previous finish.

When I use liquid poly, I always add some naphtha to it. It makes it level out better and dry faster to prevent catching too much dust.

I use Danish oil an almost every project as a first coat to make the grain pop and then use poly or lacquer over it. I found that it make a beautiful finish if I leave the oil dry 3 days and then just buff and wax it, but then it depends on the shape of the piece.

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

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