Recommended *Clear* Poly finish?

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Blog entry by firetowerfp posted 05-14-2008 03:18 AM 1120 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hey Guys- I’m finishing up a Hard Maple table I built and am looking for the right finish for it. Finishing was never my best talent, especially on the lighter woods like Maple. I’ve got a coat of sanding sealer on already, and am looking to put on two or three top coats that won’t yellow over time (I just hate the look of yellowed wood). What would you all recommend for a relatively clear, non-yellowing finish? I’ve got a bottle of Formby’s Tung Oil finish that I’ve tested out already, and it put a slight yellow tinge on the spot I applied it to, which will undoubtedly get worse. I’m looking for a matte finish, but would settle for semi-gloss… I welcome any and all recommendations. Thanks! -Nate

8 comments so far

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 3764 days

#1 posted 05-14-2008 03:25 AM

Typically your water based poly’s do not yellow and are crystal clear. The finish is not as durable as the oil based poly though. When using water based finishes, remember not to use steel wool. Any fibers left over will rust.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 3694 days

#2 posted 05-14-2008 03:31 AM

Tung oil is fine but now that you have a sealer on it will not work if I was you I would go to water base varnish which will not yellow , it may yellow a bit if it is in the sun a lot you can even use water base varnish on floors now , that is all I use it drys fast no smell and doesnot yellow ,you can get also water base exterior varnish which is harder .

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 3694 days

#3 posted 05-14-2008 03:33 AM

You are right , trifern, I forgot about steel wool because I nerver use it

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3765 days

#4 posted 05-14-2008 03:49 AM

same as trifern, use a water based poly such as General finishes “High performance” that is the one that i use. it does produce a more brittle finish as oppose to an elastic finish (like poly) so it is not as durable but if you put like 4 0r 5 coats on there it should be fine for any standard applications.

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 3694 days

#5 posted 05-14-2008 04:00 AM

I have furniture 7 and 8 years old and the water base varnish is still like the day I put it on , I always use 5 coats on all side and 7 on my tops , I start sanding after the second coat and I never use sealer and after 2 days I light sand with 1000 grits sand paper to make it shine more.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3985 days

#6 posted 05-14-2008 05:44 AM

I usually use a waterbased poly. 5 or 6 coats and you should have no problems.

Lowes sells Cabot brand which is pretty good.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Tom Adamski's profile

Tom Adamski

306 posts in 3767 days

#7 posted 05-14-2008 06:27 AM

General Finishes makes a great wipe on poly (top coat) that is truly a dream to use. It is available in a gloss, semi-gloss and satin. Personaly, I have only used the traditional oil based version as I don’t care for the cold cast (blue hue) that water based poly can give. Three coats seem to do very well, provided that it was sanded properly. Good luck.


-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4096 days

#8 posted 05-14-2008 04:04 PM

I hate to tell you that maple yellows with age on it’s own. I still would use the clearest finish but underneath it will still change just like cherry does.

My big entertainment center of maple was bright-white maple and it has turned golden. It looks good though.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

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