Waterlox finishing spots

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Forum topic by oatmeal posted 01-19-2021 02:05 PM 283 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View oatmeal's profile


6 posts in 392 days

01-19-2021 02:05 PM

First of all, thanks for a very helpful community. I’m a beginner and have learned a lot from the discussions on these pages. On to my question.

I’ve been building a trestle table based on Marc Spagnuolo's plans. The wood is cherry.

It is a kitchen table, and I chose to finish it with Waterlox (Sealer / Finisher, medium sheen.)
I sanded down to 400 and then wiped on 3 coats, wet sanded w/ 400 grit. (w 24 hours in between each coat.)
Then brushed on 1 coat. Everything was looking great.
But I’m finishing in NC in the winter, and my garage is ~55-60 degrees.
I brushed on another coat and was surprised to find spots, defects in the finish.
From my reading, i believe the wiped on coats dried fine in 24 hours, but the brushed on coat needed more time, and that my 2nd brushed on coat didn’t apply correctly because the coat below it had not completely dried.
I’ve let everything dry for 72 hours and wiped on another coat.
It looks better, but if I look at it in just the right light, I can still see the spots.
I’ve attached some pictures of the table and the problem areas.

Question is, what are my options to fix this?
If I keep wiping on coats, will I eventually fill in the low spots?
Would I be better to wet sand again and start building from there?
A final option, which is very tempting, is to put the table into use and see how it looks in 6 months. The finish may turn out to be the least of my problems!

Thoughts are appreciated.

5 replies so far

View bilyo's profile


1303 posts in 2112 days

#1 posted 01-20-2021 08:16 PM

First. That is a beautiful table. Nice work.
It has been a long time since I read the Waterlox instructions. I suspect you are pushing the limits on application temperatures. I’m not sure that is the problem. Maybe others will have more concise answers. It could also be some contamination issues.

My personal experience with Waterlox is not the best. While I like working with it, I did not find it particularly durable. I finished an entire chest with it, but later had to refinish the top with poly.

I like your idea of putting it into service as is. This will test the durability of the surface and give the weather time to warm up. Later, sand the top with 220 grit and recoat with either more Waterlox or a coat or two of poly.

View Peteybadboy's profile


3074 posts in 2959 days

#2 posted 01-20-2021 08:36 PM

I use waterlox for charcutier boards because it is food safe and really pops the grain. I second the durability for a table. If I remember you should wipe off the excess. Perhaps brushing on is laying down too much product in a layer? I will say this, I sent a note to customer service and they where excellent. I had issues with Waterlox drying in the can. They helped me fix that. (go to remove the air in the can) I use glass beads.

-- Petey

View SMP's profile


3439 posts in 915 days

#3 posted 01-20-2021 09:22 PM

Hmm, i’ve used waterlox quite a bit, but I always buff it out with steel wool and then apply wax as per Mike Pekovich. I’ve had great results with that method.

View Rich's profile


6535 posts in 1599 days

#4 posted 01-20-2021 09:34 PM

I suspect the last coat hadn’t cured completely and the brush pulled it when you applied the next coat. I’ve had the same issue in reverse here in sunny Arizona where I was applying Waterlox out in the hot shop and it was starting to cure in between strokes and get gummy. The next brush stroke drug the finish and it had exactly the same look as yours. My solution was to get out early in the morning to do the coats. Yours will have to be to simply wait much longer between coats.

Regarding the current surface flaws, the only way to get rid of them is to sand them out. I’d start with wet sanding at around 400 to 600 grit. Since the Waterlox has a fairly high sheen, it’ll be easy to see when you’ve completely removed the problem area. Sand a bit and stop, then wipe down the area. If you still see shiny spots, you have more work to do.

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

View oatmeal's profile


6 posts in 392 days

#5 posted 01-20-2021 11:02 PM

Thanks for your thoughts guys.
Peteybadboy – great idea about contacting customer service.

SMP – I had read Pekovich’s method and was roughly following that, but I think I was too impatient.

Bilyo and Rich – thanks. I think I’ll put the table into service and see how much I notice it. When it starts to bother me, maybe it will be warmer as you mention and I’ll try Rich’s sanding method.

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