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Steel Wool a No-No??

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Forum topic by Jenine posted 12-05-2015 09:19 PM 1694 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jenine

144 posts in 1189 days


12-05-2015 09:19 PM

I was at our local Kenyon Noble to buy some liquid wood filler to use on walnut before finishing (love that place). The paint manager, Richard, is a bit of a genius. Degrees in physics and chemistry…attends all the wood finishing conferences/conventions and knows his stuff.

He told me to never EVER use steel wool to rub out a finish. According to him, it is no longer recommended because you can never remove the little bits left behind and it will eventually rust.

Question: has anyone ever had this happen? 10 years later and seen rust streaks in their finish?

I switched to scotch brite pads for my current project and it just isn’t the same. So, what do you think? Someone at the conference giving a presentation just needed to give out some fresh advice and was reaching? Or is this legit info?

Thanks!

-- - Montana sucks. Tell your friends.


21 replies so far

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bandit571

14622 posts in 2150 days


#1 posted 12-05-2015 09:23 PM

Never have seen the so-called “Rust Streaks”...been using 0000 Steel Wool for a few decades. But….when I use the steel wool ( just did on my last table) I use the tack cloth to wipe the surface down. Last time through the finish process, I had a wash cloth under a palm sander block to rub things out after the steel wool.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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JoeinGa

7487 posts in 1473 days


#2 posted 12-05-2015 09:31 PM

I’ve also used steel wool for years and never seen any rust. Like bandit I wipe it down and I also use my air compressor to blow away dust & debris from my work

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

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waho6o9

7179 posts in 2043 days


#3 posted 12-05-2015 09:35 PM

I like using bronze wool and your paint manager is correct.

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Jenine

144 posts in 1189 days


#4 posted 12-05-2015 09:36 PM



Never have seen the so-called “Rust Streaks”...been using 0000 Steel Wool for a few decades. But….when I use the steel wool ( just did on my last table) I use the tack cloth to wipe the surface down. Last time through the finish process, I had a wash cloth under a palm sander block to rub things out after the steel wool.

- bandit571

This is crazy because he also said NO tac-cloth anymore! Gah! What!? Something about the wax most tac-cloths have can flex and contract under the poly, leading the problems in the future (cracked or warped poly). He kind of shattered my mental finishing steps. He did sell me the best damn microfiber cloth on the planet for $1.00. It is so tacky that it feels uncomfortable to touch (kind of pulls on little dry bits of skin, gives me a nails on the chalkboard feeling). But, it leaves no lint behind. So, that is nice…and it is cheap and reusable many times. But the steel wool is bugging me. Glad to hear others are not having rust streaks 10 years later.

-- - Montana sucks. Tell your friends.

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Jenine

144 posts in 1189 days


#5 posted 12-05-2015 09:37 PM



I like using bronze wool and your paint manager is correct.

- waho6o9

BRONZE WOOL? I had no idea that existed! I’ll have to give that a try!

-- - Montana sucks. Tell your friends.

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Kazooman

628 posts in 1419 days


#6 posted 12-05-2015 09:37 PM

I’m no finishing expert, but I have never had a problem with residue from steel wool being left on the project and rusting. I have had some issues in the past with some Big Box steel wool that seems to come with some sort of gook on it. Either something left over from the manufacturing process or something added to keep the material from oxidizing. I was always concerned that the gunk would create a problem with the next coat of finish. Now I use Luberon steel wool Pricey, but very good quality.

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Kazooman

628 posts in 1419 days


#7 posted 12-05-2015 09:45 PM

What is the grade on the bronze wool? A quick Google search only turned up “coarse” and “fine” One site suggested that the fine was equivalent to “0” steel wool. We are looking to replace “0000” steel wool for rubbing out finishes. . Is there a comparable grade bronze wool out there?

I can see how any steel residue on bare wood could lead to stains from reacting with tannins. I have never used steel wool on bare wood. Can’t see how it would migrate through a cured finish or why you couldn’t manage to get all of the fibers off a cured finish after rubbing it out.

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waho6o9

7179 posts in 2043 days


#8 posted 12-05-2015 09:53 PM

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Homax-Fine-Bronze-Wool-Pads-3-Pack-123100/100185012

Home Depot has Fine Medium and Coarse and I’m not sure if 0000 is fine or extra fine.

I’ve had good results using Fine bronze wool though.

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Fred Hargis

3949 posts in 1960 days


#9 posted 12-05-2015 10:10 PM

I’ve had rust “specks”, not streaks…in a few cases. I long ago switched to fibral wool, or none at all (brown paper bags, wet sanding, that kind of thing is what I use). I’ve never used tack cloths, never really saw a need for them.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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JoeinGa

7487 posts in 1473 days


#10 posted 12-05-2015 10:57 PM

Home Depot’s “fine” is 000 .. I have some in my shop.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

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AandCstyle

2575 posts in 1723 days


#11 posted 12-05-2015 11:15 PM

Jenine, first of all, steel wool will rust IF it is used with water based finishes due to steel particles left behind. It will not rust if used with solvent products. There are different quality levels of steel wool with Liberon being the best IMO. Your guy may be a genius, but he might also be trying to make a sale. HTH

-- Art

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dhazelton

2326 posts in 1763 days


#12 posted 12-05-2015 11:47 PM

I only use steel wool after the finish is built up and before wax. Never had a problem.

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OSU55

1063 posts in 1456 days


#13 posted 12-06-2015 02:06 PM

The guy is correct for waterborne finishes, use scotchbrite with them, but for solvent finishes, never had an issue with cheap box store steel wool.

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Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 3566 days


#14 posted 12-08-2015 01:58 PM

While your guy Kenyon Noble (yes, very cool store) may be technically correct, I have never had a long-term problem with steel wool and solvent or oil finishes, but I would not use in the process of doing waterborne finishes.

The problem really comes into play if you use the steel wool in between coats of waterborne finish and some particles are lodged or not completely removed. When you add another coat of waterborne finish on top of the steel wool particles they rust.

If you use steel wool for buffing out at the end of the finish, and some fine particles become embedded in the surface, that can certainly rust over time as it is exposed to ambient humidity or moisture from a sweaty glass or a table top being wiped clean with a damp rag.

For me, I rarely ever use steel wool anymore. The packages of steel wool that I purchased are probably 15 years old. That may sound crazy, but I settled on a finishing system, mostly using pre-cat lacquer and it requires much less work. I found that even oil based finishes do not need to be worked with steel wool.

I realized that if I am rubbing my finish out my finish with steel wool to get it to look good, then I am not applying my finish properly. And I never use wax on top of my finishes. If the surface becomes contaminated with wax, I can’t repair it.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

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JeffP

573 posts in 858 days


#15 posted 12-09-2015 02:05 AM

When I had trouble with a poly finish that was way too shiny, there were about half-a-dozen different things suggested here for toning it down to a more matte finish. It was recommended that I rub the well-dried finish with everything from paper bags to the face of a forum troll.

In the end, nothing worked…except #1 real steel wool. Worked great.

(note that I tried 2 different “grits” of synthetic steel wool – no good)

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

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