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Removing dust in between finishing coats

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Forum topic by Travis posted 02-05-2019 05:05 AM 1068 views 1 time favorited 54 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Travis

80 posts in 37 days


02-05-2019 05:05 AM

I feel like an idiot for asking this basic question, and I really appreciate all the help you lumberjocks have given me over the past several days as I’m working on this project. I’m embarrassed looking at how many questions I’ve asked recently. You guys are awesome!

I’m applying arm-r-seal to walnut and lightly scuff sanding in between coats. My question is how to best clean the piece before applying the next coat. I vacuum the piece but don’t think that really gets it all. I don’t want to trap dust in the finish. So I was doing a light wipe down with mineral spirits, but then I worried I was damaging the previous coat since it is dry but not cured. I didn’t want to use water and risk raising the grain, though maybe that wouldn’t be an issue because I’m scuff sanding in between coats….

What do you all do to clean in between finishing coats?

-- Travis, Arizona


54 replies so far

View Rich's profile

Rich

4083 posts in 860 days


#1 posted 02-05-2019 05:42 AM

Do be sure to let the previous coat dry before sanding. I use naphtha to wipe down between coats. Mineral spirits these days are mostly make green and much of the useful solvents are removed. You can also use paint thinner or turpentine.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View Travis's profile

Travis

80 posts in 37 days


#2 posted 02-05-2019 05:51 AM


Do be sure to let the previous coat dry before sanding. I use naphtha to wipe down between coats. Mineral spirits these days are mostly make green and much of the useful solvents are removed. You can also use paint thinner or turpentine.

- Rich

Thanks Rich. I am being careful about drying. I let the first coat dry 24 hours and there was no stickiness left. I am hoping the subsequent coats can dry in about 12 hours, but I will do a touch test before messing with them. I know mineral spirits are used to thin arm-r-seal, I wasn’t sure if it would loosen the prior coat. I will look into naphtha.

-- Travis, Arizona

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

5860 posts in 3084 days


#3 posted 02-05-2019 06:10 AM

Just wipe it with cheese cloth and blow it off with compressed air. No chemicals needed.

And make sure to get cheese cloth not tack cloth. I’ve been using this method for years and it works great.

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

View Travis's profile

Travis

80 posts in 37 days


#4 posted 02-05-2019 06:31 AM



Just wipe it with cheese cloth and blow it off with compressed air. No chemicals needed.

And make sure to get cheese cloth not tack cloth. I ve been using this method for years and it works great.

- pintodeluxe

Compressed air, of course! Great suggestion, thanks!

-- Travis, Arizona

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5308 posts in 2764 days


#5 posted 02-05-2019 11:38 AM

Be sure to let the dust settle before you begin your subsequent coat.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

2068 posts in 845 days


#6 posted 02-05-2019 12:09 PM


Be sure to let the dust settle before you begin your subsequent coat.

- Fred Hargis

YES absolutely…...I’ll add that if you can, get the project out of the wood shop to do your finishing in a climate controlled space if you can, one that is completely, or as close as you can get it to being dust free.

Your finishes will improve just doing that. Some time leave the shop after really cleaning up, and go back in a while later and look through a widow so you can see all the airborne stuff fluttering around.

I love Arm R Seal, mostly I love General Finishes products. One of the biggest reasons I love them beyond they make great finishes, is they have about the best library available on how to use their products specifically.

First get to the product page for what you are using of theirs.

Next, scroll down a bit and, open the section you need info about. If you are new to a product of theirs I suggest 2 things before doing anything to your project. First always read all of their info BEFORE you move forward. Second test ANY finish on some scrap from that project, prepped to the same level as to what you have done on your project. The reason for the second one is if it looks like chit when you are done, it might not be the product, but the level of prep you have done in advance of finishing it.

You will note 2 things reading this info. First the dry times between coats are longer then most people shout out. Second beyond 3 coats you are just using product, don’t expect much different outcome.

-- Think safe, be safe

View RobS888's profile

RobS888

2537 posts in 2115 days


#7 posted 02-05-2019 12:34 PM

Compressed air between grits and after sanding them microfibre after first coat. You have a glass like surface with some dust settled on it, perfect for microfibre. Keep it in a bag though, you can wash the dust out, but chips have to be pulled off of it like feathers off a chicken.

-- I always suspected many gun nuts were afraid of something, just never thought popcorn was on the list.

View BlueRidgeDog's profile

BlueRidgeDog

170 posts in 50 days


#8 posted 02-05-2019 12:39 PM

I blow off after sanding. When I return to put a coat on I wipe it down with a soft cloth to get what may have settled.

Some may disagree, but since the dust is a very fine powder of the finish itself it is not that big of an issue in your build coat phase. I pay great attention to the final coat prep.

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2095 posts in 2260 days


#9 posted 02-05-2019 01:37 PM

Vacuum and then wipe down with microfiber cloth, and if you have a dc, just hold the microfiber cloth at an inlet and let it flop around, sucks all the dust out of it.

As for leaving some dust between coats – its fine for evaporative finishes like lacquer and shellac which burn in, or melt into, previous coats, but not good for cross linking finishes like varnish. Those dust particles stay as particles. Not saying every speck needs removed but those finishes need to be pretty clean before the next coat. Not nearly as important for matte or satin final gloss level.

View Tony1212's profile

Tony1212

286 posts in 2005 days


#10 posted 02-05-2019 01:50 PM

I haven’t had to get a REALLY good finish on anything yet. But I wondered if it might be a good idea to set up one of those box fans with a furnace filter blowing toward (not directly on) the project. The idea is that you would be blowing clean air to push away all the dusty air.

Would that cause the finish to set too quickly?

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11245 posts in 3699 days


#11 posted 02-05-2019 02:11 PM

For little dust nubs, I rub it down with folded kraft paper or paper grocery bags. After the final coat has dried, I use Liberon 0000 steel wool to apply paste wax. Works for me.

-- 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 Travis's profile

Travis

80 posts in 37 days


#12 posted 02-05-2019 02:59 PM


YES absolutely…...I ll add that if you can, get the project out of the wood shop to do your finishing in a climate controlled space if you can, one that is completely, or as close as you can get it to being dust free.

Your finishes will improve just doing that. Some time leave the shop after really cleaning up, and go back in a while later and look through a widow so you can see all the airborne stuff fluttering around.
- therealSteveN

I would love to be able to do this, unfortunately my garage/shop is the only practical spot for me. Between little destructive kids in the house + the arm-r-seal stench, the garage is the place. I have suspended all other activity in the garage though to hopefully reduce dust risk. I live in Phoenix so garage temperatures are not a concern for me.


I love Arm R Seal, mostly I love General Finishes products. One of the biggest reasons I love them beyond they make great finishes, is they have about the best library available on how to use their products specifically.

First get to the product page for what you are using of theirs.

Next, scroll down a bit and, open the section you need info about. If you are new to a product of theirs I suggest 2 things before doing anything to your project. First always read all of their info BEFORE you move forward. Second test ANY finish on some scrap from that project, prepped to the same level as to what you have done on your project. The reason for the second one is if it looks like chit when you are done, it might not be the product, but the level of prep you have done in advance of finishing it.

You will note 2 things reading this info. First the dry times between coats are longer then most people shout out. Second beyond 3 coats you are just using product, don t expect much different outcome.
- therealSteveN

I appreciate the link and have looked at their info page and a few of their videos multiple times. I was a bit confused because I’ve read Flexner (and others) say that manufacturer instructions for finishes are unreliable, and as you pointed out, many people advocate different procedures (4 hrs between coats, for example, when GF says 12-24 hrs). That said, I am following their instructions, waiting a full 24 hrs after first coat and at least 12 hours for subsequent coats (assuming finish feels dry, no stickiness). I’m glad to hear you reaffirm their stance on number of coats, because I am also seeing many tutorials where people are applying 4-5 coats of arm-r-seal and so I was confused about that. Being one of my first finishing projects, I am not confident in my ability to just know by sight/feel when enough finish has been laid down.

-- Travis, Arizona

View Travis's profile

Travis

80 posts in 37 days


#13 posted 02-05-2019 03:07 PM



Vacuum and then wipe down with microfiber cloth, and if you have a dc, just hold the microfiber cloth at an inlet and let it flop around, sucks all the dust out of it.

As for leaving some dust between coats – its fine for evaporative finishes like lacquer and shellac which burn in, or melt into, previous coats, but not good for cross linking finishes like varnish. Those dust particles stay as particles. Not saying every speck needs removed but those finishes need to be pretty clean before the next coat. Not nearly as important for matte or satin final gloss level.

- OSU55

I appreciate the clarification. I will keep the piece as clean as possible.

-- Travis, Arizona

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

2068 posts in 845 days


#14 posted 02-06-2019 04:07 AM



For little dust nubs, I rub it down with folded kraft paper or paper grocery bags. After the final coat has dried, I use Liberon 0000 steel wool to apply paste wax. Works for me.

- Gene Howe

Gene, I do the paper bag thing after lightly sanding that last coat. If I haven’t got much “grit” feel on the surface I’ll use steel wool, blow it off with air, and then use the paper bag. I also put a coat of wax on at the end, but I’m good with a dust free very soft cloth. Following the paper bag I would think the steel wool, even very fine would scratch it back up a little.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Travis's profile

Travis

80 posts in 37 days


#15 posted 02-06-2019 04:23 AM

For little dust nubs, I rub it down with folded kraft paper or paper grocery bags. After the final coat has dried, I use Liberon 0000 steel wool to apply paste wax. Works for me.

- Gene Howe

Gene, I do the paper bag thing after lightly sanding that last coat. If I haven t got much “grit” feel on the surface I ll use steel wool, blow it off with air, and then use the paper bag. I also put a coat of wax on at the end, but I m good with a dust free very soft cloth. Following the paper bag I would think the steel wool, even very fine would scratch it back up a little.

- therealSteveN

I’ve heard of the brown paper bag after the last coat. What does adding a coat of wax do for the finish?

Also, has anyone ever used the reusable cloth diapers for applying wax? I haven’t yet as this is my first real project, but I have used those for polishing shoes and other items and love them because they are thick, soft, don’t shed, and are reusable. I imagine they will work well for that.

-- Travis, Arizona

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