White Spots in Grain After Finishing

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Forum topic by RedWoodworker posted 11-23-2017 01:03 AM 1281 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View RedWoodworker's profile


37 posts in 965 days

11-23-2017 01:03 AM

Hello all,

Yesterday I finished a bandsaw box made out of walnut and zebra wood (my second one ever). Today, I noticed that there are a bunch of white spots that appear in the grain of the wood throughout the box. I have attached a photo as an example.

I had this exact same problem on my previous box, but I thought it was caused by the wax I used (briwax), which was 4+ years old. This time, I used a new thing of Howard’s Citrus Shield Paste Wax, but the result was the same.

I’m hoping someone can help identify what is causing the white spotting so I can avoid making the same mistake in the future.

Here is the process I used to finish (copying the method suggested by the Drunken Woodworker):
1. Sanded to 220 (RSO), then up to 0000 artificial steel wool
2. Applied a coat of equal parts BLO, Minwax Wipe-on Poly, and Mineral Spirits, wiping extra off
3. Let dry for 24 hours, rub with 0000 artificial steel wool
4. Repeated this process 4 times (so 4 coats, letting each dry for 24/hrs, except for the last which I let dry for 48 hours)
5. After 48 hours, I used the 0000 artificial steel wool, and added two coats of wax, and buffed.

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!!

6 replies so far

View tomd's profile


2218 posts in 4549 days

#1 posted 11-23-2017 01:23 AM

Both woods have open grain and I believe the wax is getting into the grain openings. You will either have to fill the grain or not use wax. On a project like that I would use a wipe on poly or a clear spray finish if you do not want to fill the grain.

-- Tom D

View Aj2's profile


3100 posts in 2576 days

#2 posted 11-23-2017 01:41 AM

Yep it looks like dried wax in the pores. I’ve not had good luck with oil finishes on exocits, I use shellac on most everything now. Once you get the hang of it never look back

-- Aj

View RedWoodworker's profile


37 posts in 965 days

#3 posted 11-27-2017 06:14 PM

Thank you very much for the information, Tom and Aj. I didn’t even realize that open grain woods should be treated differently, so this info will come in handy in the future. Thanks again!

View bondogaposis's profile


5791 posts in 3130 days

#4 posted 11-27-2017 07:22 PM

Use Black Bison wax instead.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View OSU55's profile


2648 posts in 2768 days

#5 posted 11-27-2017 09:23 PM

I use paste wax tinted with dye. This will cause lighter wood to have darker pores. I use both Transtint and wd lockwood ob dyes. You dont need the blo in your finish. Just thin the poly 1:1 with ms.

View RedWoodworker's profile


37 posts in 965 days

#6 posted 11-27-2017 09:31 PM

I thought about using wax with a dye in it, and actually tried light-brown BriWax on a piece of scrap, but I didn’t like how it darkened the zebra wood.

I think I will try to remove the current white-spotted wax with mineral spirits. I will then probably leave it as is (just the poly/blo finish), unless anyone has suggestions about what would look good on top of that.

Thanks again everyone!

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