Finishing "HAD IT"

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Forum topic by Matt posted 03-04-2012 04:03 AM 1172 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Matt's profile


31 posts in 2789 days

03-04-2012 04:03 AM

Topic tags/keywords: humor question finishing refurbishing

Please, for Pete’s sake, school me here. Refinishing a coffee table top in which I fully sanded, cleaned, used Danish Oil, and slowly built up many thin coats (15 now) of Polyeurethane. Why so many? Because I cannot get a brushstroke/Roller stroke free finish! Brush slow, brush moderate, roll slow, thin it with mineral spirits, etc. Each coat, once dried, gets sanded to smooth again with 300gr then 400gr sand paper, wiped clean, wiped with mineral spirits, and once dried, another coat of finish. Four hours later I find that the brush fairy has yet again plowed furrows in my finish.

What in blazes am I doing wrong? Any helpful hints would be much appreciatted.

-- Matt

9 replies so far

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 2722 days

#1 posted 03-04-2012 04:15 AM

Not sure, could be the temperature and humidity, I have been using foam brushes and not having any issues. Maybe try a wipe on poly, it’s like 1/2 a coat each time, so if you wanted 6 coats you would need to do 12.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View yammi450's profile


25 posts in 3077 days

#2 posted 03-04-2012 04:42 AM

If you have enough poly built up after sanding it smooth, finish the last coat or two with wipe on poly.

View Matt's profile


31 posts in 2789 days

#3 posted 03-04-2012 05:38 AM

Martyroc, yammi450, coats 5 and 6 (I think) were wipe on. It set too quickly. I’ll try and thin it by another 25% and try again. Thanks!

-- Matt

View Manitario's profile


2759 posts in 3299 days

#4 posted 03-04-2012 05:39 AM

I’ve never had any luck getting a smooth finish with brush on poly; try very thin coats with wipe on poly. Slight sanding between coats with 400 grit will give you a glassy smooth coat.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4064 days

#5 posted 03-04-2012 05:39 AM

I dip the brush in thinner first. The finish generally evens out
pretty well. Use a natural bristle brush. Synthetics brushes
get bloated.

Weenie rollers can help too. They are like foam roller brushes.

Don’t freak out. Get Bob Flexner’s finishing book. Read it.

View Matt's profile


31 posts in 2789 days

#6 posted 03-04-2012 09:28 AM

Freaking out? Naw- insanely irritated? Absolutely. One of our brethren states in his signature that “woodworking – patience = firewood”. The humor and truth behind that has resulted in significantly fewer projects meeting untimely ends by volunteering to become frisbies.

Google returned many results for “perfect finishes for table tops”, none of which have satisfied my perfectionist ways. Getting straight scoop from you folks is very much appreciatted.

As for the book Loren, it just hit my number one must buy. Thank you all. One last question, if I may. When applying wipe-on, this not being virgin wood, there is no “rubbing into the wood” as the directions state. What is the technique that those of you with experience prefer for final coats?

-- Matt

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2771 days

#7 posted 03-04-2012 10:01 AM

Well, I’ve never had good results with poly using a brush personally, but, when discussing the issues with minwax on the phone, I learned I should be brushing in only one direction with the stuff, but the problem always was for me at least that either I put it on too heavy, or it didn’t have the time to settle out because it was tacking too quickly. Unfortunately, they were not at liberty to tell me anything I could add to slow down the tack time.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3653 days

#8 posted 03-04-2012 01:53 PM

I put the last few coats on with a tuft of extra fine stainless steel wool. I rub it in as I apply it and it drys crystal clear.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3490 days

#9 posted 03-04-2012 02:22 PM

Try wipe on poly and don’ t forget that the most important step with wipe on poly is the wipe off. Apply the wipe on poly (I use a foam brush) and then, almost immediately wipe it off (I use lint-free paper towels). You’ll be leaving a thin layer behind – but that is what you want.

I sand lightly between coats with 400 grit paper and/or 00 steel wool.

If I start with bare wood, I usually apply between 5 and 8 coats to get the finish I want.

Also – I think MinWax’s glossy wipe on poly is too glossy and the satin is too dull. I mix them 50/50. Only mix up what you will be using in the next few days. Once mixed, they have a short shelf life.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

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