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Finish my boot bench but don't like the finish

1947 Views 11 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  gfadvm
Well this is my first actually completed project. I had gotten a few boards of black walnut for free and decided they were just the right size. This was a real learning experience for me and it is rittled with small errors that I know are there, but oh well. Live and learn.

The boot bench is actually a series of bead board paned windows with a black walnut and maple top.

After I finished the top, I used BLO which really made the grain and figure of the wood come out. The problem is, I decided to put a top coat of Minwax, paste over the top last night and really kinda hate the results. I waited about 45 min and buffed it out by hand. It looks like the wax worked its way into the grain leaving behind tiny white areas where it filled in. Also, when you look in the light, it looks smooth in some areas and not in others.

How do I fix this? Card scraper and remove it? Additional layers of wax on top? Mineral spirits to remove all wax and use shellac or lacquer (I have some of this at home now). I don't want a glassy finish, but better than what I got for sure.

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Taking it off could be tricky, I'd try a card scraper first, if that doesn't work move onto mineral spirits. Lacquer tends to leave a plasticy look but fairly durable. If your trying to prevent the wax getting into the grain, use a sanding sealer first. After that it become a lot of personal preference.
It looks like the BLO needed a sanding prior to putting the wax on. Not sure what the best way is to remove the wax.
Use mineral spirits, VM&P naphtha or turpentine to remove the wax. Next, use a coat of dewaxed shellac to seal in the BLO, as well as any residual wax. After that, you can use either lacquer or more coats of shellac as your topcoat. Here's a tip: avoid using light coloured paste wax on dark, open grained woods. As you have seen, it will lodge in the pores and cause them to appear white. Beautiful work, by the way.
Well, since it is a large flat surface, it would be pretty easy to sand the finish off and start with something else. My favorite finish is sprayed lacquer. I have been using Rudd Duracat in the satin finish. It won't get too glossy, and never looks like plastic. Two coats is all you need.
I would mix some BLO and mineral spirits and wet sand with this mixture (220-320 grit). After sanding for a while, wipe all the excess BLO/sanding slurry off. This should fill the pores. You can then either topcoat with shellac, poly, etc or wax with a dark colored wax depending on the look and durability you are after.

I finished my Jatoba "Double Postal Box" with this method and it turned out very well.
kwolfe, that's a spectacular top. I really like the look.

Before you go overboard, you may wish to start out with just steelwool .. maybe a 0 or a 1. It couldn't hurt as it wouldn't preclude any more drastic further action. I've had luck evening out a bad wax job with steel wool. The only thing is, if the walnut pores have not been closed by the finish, you'll get steel fibres in the pores which may be difficult to remove (although an air hose should do it). It could be that, after the steel wool treatment, you may like it that way and don't care to top it with wax. If you do re-wax, try not letting the wax stand so long before buffing.
Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I think I will try the steel wool first as I need to get some anyway. I put the wax on with an old sock and maybe that wasn't the best route. I can work my way up from there. I'll post my results so hopefully it can help someone else in the future.
kwolfe, you don't mention time but, how long did you let the BLO cure? Depending on your environmentals BLO can take 7+ days to be ready for top coating, I had a similar result on a table and had to sand it out, but I wish I had thought to come here as you did because I like gfadvm's idea a lot better than starting over.
I like gfadvm's idea as well. And keep in mind you can cut blo with mineral spirits to help drying time.

very nice work.
Hey everyone. I forgot to take new pictures, but I tried gfadvm's suggestion and it worked pretty darn well. Not saying that the others would not have. I put a 50/50 mix of BLO and mineral spirits on top and wet sanded with 320 grit for about 5 min max by hand. The finish is now even color, smooth feeling and no more whitish hew. Thanks to everyone.

This piece was a practice run. My wife would like a bench with overhead cubbies in the foyer. Similar design but bigger.
Glad it worked for you.
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