High School Shop finish containers

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Forum topic by TechTeacher04 posted 01-23-2020 02:23 PM 549 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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425 posts in 2162 days

01-23-2020 02:23 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I teach Basic and Advanced Woodworking near Rochester, NY. We have been bleeding finish this school year. We use Minwax Wipe-on Poly exclusively, the containers that would survive and thrive in any home shop are frequently dumped, left open, etc. We have tried using soap type dispensers, but the pump action gums up in a week or 2 as the finish dries. Does anyone have any alternative ideas for dispensing pre-measured amounts of finish that can’t spill when tipped? Thank you

16 replies so far

View SMP's profile


1736 posts in 536 days

#1 posted 01-23-2020 02:54 PM

My wife does stuff with essential oils and sometimes orders 100s of those little squeeze tubes on amazon. They may leak or clog etc but you just toss and replace they are dirt cheap. Something like this, first one I googled but you get the idea:

View LesB's profile


2350 posts in 4074 days

#2 posted 01-23-2020 06:37 PM

I’m wondering if something like the wine in a box bag might work. It would eliminate any air over the remaining finish.I don’t know how they would stand up to the solvents in your finishes but they are polyethylene. The valves pull out for re-filling but you probably only use it once. Now somebody has to drink the wine first….. I have reused them to make durable flat ice bags for my fishing ice chest.

Also how about a spigot. There are polyethylene spigots that could be put on containers. There are numerous sources on the internet. Prices vary from $3 up. Here is one web site as an example. .

-- Les B, Oregon

View laterthanuthink's profile


46 posts in 760 days

#3 posted 01-23-2020 06:48 PM

Artist and woodworker Thomas Schrunk invented the Stop Loss Bag, which works really well. You can buy them direct from Tom, or on Amazon or Woodcraft too I believe.

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2398 posts in 2125 days

#4 posted 01-25-2020 04:23 AM

Non-spill liquid in open top container is almost impossible IME?

As far as cheap dispensing goes, there are huge array of faucet options. Everything from gravity feed beverage faucets, to laboratory grade carboy with spigot.

Challenge with pre-measured dispensing is the dispenser usually has to have an intermediate chamber to hold the desired amount. Any time you hold an oxygen/moisture curing finish in a space exposed to air, it will eventually cure. So you can not leave the chamber filled indefinitely, unless the system stays wet all the time. In commercial polymer and adhesive dispensers we had defined shutdown & clean out process if machine sat idle for long enough the material would start to cure.
Not sure how you would manage this with random nature of students in class?

If given enough time and budget, know that a capable pre-measured dispenser could be created.
It might already exist, but would take some research to find answer?

Used to work with Graco, Nordson, Dymax, FluidResearch, and others to design custom robotic dispensers for manufacturing using containers ranging from the size of a syringe, to 400gal pallet sized totes. These types of systems are not usually ‘off the shelf’ due customization, but most times the equipment modules are readily available if you call and ask.
What am I suggesting?
You might be able to use a single component dispenser , or Half of a Meter/Mix dispenser, or a positive displacement piston/extrusion pump?
These commercial options might seem like an overly complex and expensive solution, but may not have a choice? Any time one considers an automated dispenser solution, it is trade off; up front cost .vs. higher material used and waste costs. Besides many table top manual dispensers can be bought for less than $2-$3k. If your school is using many gallons of Poly every semester, this is not ridiculous.

Suggest you visit the Graco site, and find a local distributor. Wait they make it really complicated. You will not know how to answer the site filter questions.

Call this Grace Sales person taken from the site and ask him for a
‘single component polyurethane meter dispenser for use in a school’
TONY HORELIK, PA 612-751-3957
He covers PA, NY, CT for Graco meter dispenser systems.

If Graco folks can’t figure it out, call Ellsworth Adhesives.
Many of my former colleagues in the polymer/coatings/adhesives industry, have gone to work for them as retirement gig. Don’t have contacts in your area, so just call the Glue Doctor number at Ellsworth. They are not tied to any one company, and have many people who help folks with ‘sticky’ solutions. lol

BTW – If Ellsworth doesn’t want to help, let me know via PM. I worked with Paul Ellsworth when he started in 80’s, and can easily find someone in his company willing to explore the issue, and maybe find an affordable solution.

Hope this helps, and Best Luck!

PS – thanks for keeping wood working alive in school!

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

View OSU55's profile


2542 posts in 2620 days

#5 posted 01-25-2020 01:44 PM

Provide more info on the containers you are currently using, pic would be good. Is it the can mw wipe on comes in? What size? How much needs dispensed at a time? More description of the current process Trying to think of simple cheap methods/products that could help.

View splintergroup's profile


3279 posts in 1853 days

#6 posted 01-25-2020 03:47 PM

I’ve used old “box-o-wine” bladders with great success storing poly. Having the bladder collapse keeps the air out and the product fresh.

Alternatively, you could try pump dispensers like those used for condiments at fast food places (catsup, mustard, etc.)
You could give an occasional squirt of some oxygen blocker (i.e. Bloxygen) inside as the levels drop.
You can get them cheaply and at least they keep usage and lid-off times to a minimum. Heck, even 1 qt. pump shampoo bottles would work.

View Madmark2's profile


829 posts in 1219 days

#7 posted 01-25-2020 07:13 PM

Hand soap dispensers that use bags …

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View Lazyman's profile


4639 posts in 2018 days

#8 posted 01-25-2020 07:19 PM

I like these squeeze bottles for the friction finish that I wipe on when using the lathe. They come in 2, 4 and 8 ounce sizes so you can dole out small quantities to limit waste. The small opening which you cut to whatever size you need will also limit waste when you knock over the bottle. The only problem is that they will inevitably lose the caps but with smaller holes you can limit the problems with that. You can look for some where the cap is tethered if that becomes a problem. I think that you can also find replacement or even tethered caps for for condiment bottles.

Another option are the Fastcap Glue-bot applicators. You dispense the contents by squeezing and the bottle doesn’t have turned upside down. They come in 4, 6 and 16 ounce sizes. The cap is tethered and you can buy replacement caps if needed. It is a great glue bottle BTW, especially if you buy your wood glue in gallons and need an easy applicator. I’ve been using mine for at least 5 years now and I love it.

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

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1439 posts in 3294 days

#9 posted 01-25-2020 08:00 PM

+1 for the stop loss bags, I use them and I love them.

-- Bob in Montana. Kindness is the Language the blind can see and deaf can hear. - Mark Twain

View Lazyman's profile


4639 posts in 2018 days

#10 posted 01-25-2020 10:57 PM

The stop loss bags have always seemed a little expensive to me plus it is not really a good solution to the problem of spillage. It doesn’t sound like they really have a problem of the finish going bad. Transfering to small sturdy containers with small spouts that minimize spillage when dropped or knocked over would be my proposal.

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

View CWWoodworking's profile


609 posts in 810 days

#11 posted 01-25-2020 11:22 PM

5 gallon bucket with an industrial hand pump made for solvent coatings. Have the students bring in container to work out of.

Limit them to one pump at a time. So if they spill it’s only a little.

Do you buy it in bulk? I used to use that stuff for one product made, but had to switch cause of cost. It works pretty good but is crazy expensive.

View Andybb's profile


2486 posts in 1234 days

#12 posted 01-25-2020 11:26 PM


-- Andy - Seattle USA

View Andybb's profile


2486 posts in 1234 days

#13 posted 01-25-2020 11:35 PM

How about these? Re-usable.

Or can you put a few gallons into something that has a spigot on it and dispense into disposable containers. Plus being collapsible it would keep the air out.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View exslidder's profile


59 posts in 698 days

#14 posted 01-26-2020 01:23 AM

to remove small amounts from a large container i use turkey basters that i pick up at the dollar store. these are nice as it eliminates contamination from somebody dipping a used brush in the can.

-- No dust on the floor....No money in the bank

View TechTeacher04's profile


425 posts in 2162 days

#15 posted 01-27-2020 05:40 PM

Thank you for the recommendations. We have been using the 16oz cans

, we have found 32oz cans locally but with the frequency of students tipping them over and leaving the caps off we are reluctant to purchase the larger size until we find an alternative container. I shared these recommendations with my colleague and we plan to try using disposable bottles with tethered caps for the first attempt. We are also moving the finishing table to a more visible location to improve our ability to supervise.

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