quick finish recommendations?

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Forum topic by jamsomito posted 12-16-2019 01:27 AM 524 views 0 times favorited 33 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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457 posts in 1032 days

12-16-2019 01:27 AM

I’m coming up on a deadline for a project and unfortunately I don’t have time for my typical varnish finish. This is going to be applied to my business card holders I have a few blog posts on. They will be sitting on a desk and rarely touched, so they don’t need a ton of protection.

What I’m looking for is something fast, like one coat, nothing that requires a brush, and dries overnight. I was thinking just a single coat of some kind of wax? I’ve never used wax as a finish before. Any suggestions? I have some paste wax but it stinks bad for a day or two. I’d have to pick this up at a woodcraft or home depot tomorrow to hit my deadline. Otherwise I just may not finish the pieces. Does such a finish exist?

33 replies so far

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Craftsman on the lake

3099 posts in 4043 days

#1 posted 12-16-2019 01:46 AM

Not exactly what you wanted but minwax polycrylic. It’s water based so brushes on and cleans up easily. Dries very quickly, minutes… and looks like a semigloss clear varnish. I finish a lot of my projects off with this stuff. My kitchen cabinets are done with this. If you have spray equipment it sprays very easily.

Big box store. The can is light blue.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View jamsomito's profile


457 posts in 1032 days

#2 posted 12-16-2019 01:51 AM

Yeah, I thought of some water-based poly. You’re right, it does dry very fast. But for some reason using a brush always takes me 5 times longer and inevitably gives me drips and runs (which is more sanding), and after it dries I almost always have missed spots from brush strokes so, for me anyway, it’s a guaranteed 2-3 coats minimum. I just don’t have time for that this time around. I’d love some spray equipment but alas that’s a purchase for another time too.

I thought about a rattle can of clear finish – lacquer or water poly – but it’s too cold to do that outside and I don’t have a place inside to be spraying things.

Kind of up a creek with this stuff unfortunately. That’s why I was thinking maybe a simple wax would do. One coat, rub it in, done. Surely there’s something like this out there, no? Even if it’s technically a “replenishable” finish?

View bilyo's profile


960 posts in 1708 days

#3 posted 12-16-2019 02:06 AM

This is what I would use=. Set up your card holders near a door or window with a box fan aimed outward to take care of over spray. Open the door or window, spray, close door or window, done. Dries fast and minimal odor.

View jbmaine's profile


87 posts in 75 days

#4 posted 12-16-2019 02:17 AM

I like using gel varnish. Wipe it on, let it sit for a couple of minutes, buff it off until dry.

View Mr_Pink's profile


183 posts in 977 days

#5 posted 12-16-2019 02:22 AM

A little bit of shellac, followed by wax.

View kajunkraft's profile


181 posts in 2816 days

#6 posted 12-16-2019 02:24 AM

Does anybody here use Briwax?

View jamsomito's profile


457 posts in 1032 days

#7 posted 12-16-2019 02:26 AM

Does anybody here use Briwax?

- kajunkraft

I have some SC Johnson Paste Wax that I use on my cast iron tops and any wood parts in mechanisms as a lubricant… never used it as a finish.

View BuckeyeDennis's profile


65 posts in 304 days

#8 posted 12-16-2019 02:36 AM

A rattle can of Zinsser shellac. Available at all of my local hardware stores, and dries in minutes. You could probably shoot it in your garage, as long as the humidity is low.

-- Dennis 'We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.' Charles Swindoll

View CaptainKlutz's profile


2229 posts in 2100 days

#9 posted 12-16-2019 03:09 AM

When I need something lightning fast for small projects, and I am out of Pre-Cat for spray gun:
Deft rattle can lacquer

Can lay down 2 coats in an hour. Easy to repair in case of oops.
Solvent odor dissipates quickly.
Adds a slight amber tone unlike all the WB coatings. Much faster than any WB product IMHO.

Works well to repair most any lacquer on large projects too.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View cracknpop's profile


384 posts in 2954 days

#10 posted 12-16-2019 03:30 AM

Sort of echoing a couple suggestions above…
My go to in a pinch is spray can shellac or lacquer. The Zinser shellac will be less odorous quicker, but both will be pretty quick. Both will dry in minutes.

To address the “Baby its cold outside”... Not ideal but will work for your small sized items.
Set your business card holder on a board or platter you can hold in your hand. Step outside and spray it. Bring it back inside to dry. If you are still concerned with what little off gassing that occurs while drying, set them in a room with exhaust fan, ie kitchen or bathroom.

-- Rick - I know I am not perfect, but I will keep pressing on toward the goal of becoming all I am called to be.

View Lazyman's profile


4503 posts in 1993 days

#11 posted 12-16-2019 04:20 AM

I usually use rattle can lacquer when I want a quick glossy finish. I have not used the rattle can Shellac but it should be equally fast. The rattle can polycrylic spray dries quickly too and comes in satin, semi gloss and gloss finishes.

Of course temperature and humidity is going to affect drying time.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Rich's profile (online now)


5137 posts in 1195 days

#12 posted 12-16-2019 04:25 AM

Lacquer all the way. It’s not a one coat solution, but you can get several coats on in a few hours, and it’ll be cured in a day.

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

View jamsomito's profile


457 posts in 1032 days

#13 posted 12-16-2019 01:53 PM

Ok, thanks for all the thoughts everyone! Would either of the lacquer, shellac, or water poly be any better with a cold application?

I’m thinking I’ll leave my parts and rattle can indoors to warm up, then take them out to the garage to spray. I’ll leave them for 5 minutes or so, then bring them to my downstairs basement bathroom with the fan on to cure. I do have an IR heater I could point at them, but I’m not sure if that would bake it on the opposite end of the temperature spectrum…

View HokieKen's profile


11998 posts in 1744 days

#14 posted 12-16-2019 02:00 PM

In my experience, shellac is pretty foolproof and I wipe it on rather than brush it. I have put it on in the cold-ish shop before but I always bring it inside the basement where it’s heated to cure. Even in the cold though, it’s cured enough to handle in 30 minutes or so.

Another “fast” finish I like is to cut BLO 50/50 with MS. It cures much faster than a straight BLO application and if brought into the heat, will cure enough not to stink overnight. If I need a little film protection, I’ll also throw some oil-based poly into the mix.

Good luck with the holders!

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

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Fred Hargis

5927 posts in 3099 days

#15 posted 12-16-2019 02:26 PM

Wiping on shellac would be my first choice. The sray can of lacquer might work, but it will be a couple of coats with some very bad odors.

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

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