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Blog entry by HuntleyBill posted 1694 days ago 852 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m not sure if I’m putting this question in the right place but here goes.
I am finishing a table with stain and a high gloss clear Polyurethane. The directions say to sand between coats with 220 paper. When applying a coat of polyurethane, I notice that there are small bubbles in the finish. This is fine when I am sanding between coats, but on the last coat I would like to have it as smooth as glass with a high gloss.

I have heard that I should “rub out” the last coat with a fine steel wool but won’t that dull the finish??

How do I get the surface to be smooth and glossy?
Thanks

-- If you think you can, or think you can't...your right!



6 comments so far

View Jimi_C's profile

Jimi_C

506 posts in 1838 days


#1 posted 1693 days ago

There are a few things you could be doing wrong. Google “polyurethane bubbles” and you’ll find a lot of useful tips.

Here’s a sample of some I found useful:

http://www.woodweb.com/knowledge_base/Bubbles_in_polyurethane_topcoat.html
http://www.ehow.com/how_4883963_apply-polyurethane-bubbles.html

If you have too many problems with brushed on poly, you might want to try using wipe-ons as they seem to be easier and less prone to problems.

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

View Joedcatman's profile

Joedcatman

172 posts in 1719 days


#2 posted 1693 days ago

Another thought is one technique that I’ve used is to “rub out” the final coat with very fine steel wool. Wipe the piece with a lint-free rag dampened with a little mineral spirits. When this drys, apply a couple of thin coats of a good paste wax. Buff both coats and the second should give you the gloss you’re looking for.

-- JoeR Nothing that I could make will ever be perfect but I'll use it anyway.

View DaleM's profile

DaleM

903 posts in 1987 days


#3 posted 1693 days ago

I second the fine steel wool and paste wax technique. I’ve used 0000 steel wool, really rubbing down the whole thing very thoroughly, which does leave it very smooth, but slightly hazy looking. A couple of light coats of paste wax, I do it very light, will get rid of the haze and bring it to a really nice shine. If you want to use poly only, you may want to try and spray on the last coat to avoid the bubbles, use wipe-on as mentioned above, or thin the last coat if you want the bubbles to pop and the poly to smooth out.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

View HuntleyBill's profile

HuntleyBill

86 posts in 1694 days


#4 posted 1693 days ago

Great advice, thank you. Maybe I should be asking if poly is the right finish. I read a lot of people using varnish. Is varnish better for the finish I want? I never heard of wipe-ons, can I get that at home depot etc?

-- If you think you can, or think you can't...your right!

View woody57's profile

woody57

645 posts in 2031 days


#5 posted 1692 days ago

Yes, Home Depot has wipe on poly. I have used it with good success. Just be sure to use a lint free cloth.
I have never tried it, but I have heard of using a mixture of Tung Oil and poly.
Has anyone used this before?

-- Emmett, from Georgia

View Jimi_C's profile

Jimi_C

506 posts in 1838 days


#6 posted 1691 days ago

Poly is varnish :) I highly recommend The Wood Whisperer’s video on finishes: http://thewoodwhisperer.com/oil-based-finish-basics/, it really cleared up a lot of things for me.

-- The difference between being defeated and admitting defeat is what makes all the difference in the world - Upton Sinclair, "The Jungle"

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