Can I put poly over Watco?

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Forum topic by Tom148 posted 05-28-2012 06:42 PM 2216 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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39 posts in 3605 days

05-28-2012 06:42 PM

I have a keepsake box made from zebra wood. I put three coats of Watco oil on it but it is rougher than I expected. The wood is hard but more porous than I thought it would be. I’m thinking maybe I can improve the finish with poly. Or I can just keep trying to build up coat with Watco but I am not sure i’ll get there that way.

I struggle with finishes so any help is appreciated.


-- Tom

4 replies so far

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2172 posts in 4191 days

#1 posted 05-28-2012 06:56 PM

Hi Tom—

Any sanding involved with the Watco? If your third coat is really dry—a full day or more—then I’d try applying Watco and wetsanding it with 320 wetordry. What you’re doing here is cutting off little nibs and, in some cases, forcing little wood particles into pores. The feel of the drag on the paper will tell you when the abrasive is working. This is not a scrubbing action, but more of a spreading and, when you get an area thin-coated, giving it a little gentle friction.

Now wipe the stuff off thoroughly. Feel the result. If it’s satisfying, add another thin coat of fresh stuff and so on as needed. If you need to wetsand again down the line, go to finer grits, like 400 then to 500.

Watco is so much easier to work with than poly and, in the end, will yield similar results. It will be worth the patience it will take to get it right.

I think one of the habits that we all struggle with is, when the project is built, using the word “done.” That’s a sure way to convince your brain it needs to hurry through the finish process. I prefer to describe that state as “ready for finish” which puts that very important last step in the same category as “make a cut list” and “mill the rough stock” and “cut the joints.”



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View ETwoodworks's profile


92 posts in 4034 days

#2 posted 05-28-2012 07:37 PM

I like Lee’s suggestion it really gives you a nice finish. But to anser your question yes you can put poly over watco danish oil after it is fully cured.

-- Building quality in a throw away world.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5559 days

#3 posted 05-28-2012 07:57 PM

Lee’s suggestion is an excellent one.

You could also proceed with poly. I would wipe on several coats, then sand with 300-400 grit. The result will be chalky-looking, but very smooth to the touch. Then you can wipe on a final coat of poly and it will look and feel great.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 3605 days

#4 posted 05-29-2012 04:55 PM

I sand in coats of Watco, so I may be a little crazy when it comes to how smooth the finish is (2000 grit). I then put a wipe on poly after the Watco is fully cured. Trying to build a Watco oil finish might cause you to go crazy…

“Journal entry 942: Day 1,012: Still applying Watco finishes daily to get an even build. Results not looking promising. Thinking I may go mad in this workshop before it’s done. Tablesaw keeps teasing me. Sanding paper is mocking me. When will it end?”

Prep work is the most important step to a good finish. Poor prep work equal poor finish results.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

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