sharing post final coat of poly resuslts

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Forum topic by AAANDRRREW posted 12-22-2015 03:03 PM 841 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View AAANDRRREW's profile


213 posts in 1406 days

12-22-2015 03:03 PM

In the past few months I have gone from having major issues with nibs or crud in my brushed on minwax poly and being at the end of my wits to having great news to share (and a question as well :) ), all because of the advice from ppl here.

Anyway, You’ll see two projects attached to this post. Both are constructed of pine, both stained with minwax (ebony I think). I sanded to 120 grit (I’ll go finer next time…), stained then wiped on a coat of satin poly, diluted 1:3. I then sanded with 220 grit (i think I’ll go finer next time – felt like I was going too deep with the 220). I then wiped on 3-4 more coats of poly, letting it dry to the touch but not full curing. I can’t remember exactly, but I did lightly hit it with 0000 steel wool between coats.

Anyway, after the “final” coat, I had some dust nibs. Nothing major and a big improvement from my previous nib expereinces w/ brush on, but it still irritated me. All my pals are teasing me saying I must really be a doofus for not being able to use poly and get good results.

So, after letting the final coat cure completely (it was like 48 hrs), I hit it with the brown paper bag trick. Although it did take some nibs out, the larger ones it just flattened them, but you could still see them in the glare from a light. I then moved to 1500 dry sanding. I started off with no pressure, then realized I could nearly stand on it while sanding. After I sanded it smooth and wiped the dust away, it was smooth, but had an orange peel look to it and a haze. I then took 0000 steel wool w/ some regular liquid mequires car wax (I didn’t have paste wax and figured I could always do another coat of poly if it didn’t turn out). I used the steel wool and wax just like I would be applying it to a car by hand. Before it could dry (I was generous with the wax) I buffed it off with a microfiber towel. WOW. no nibs. awesome finish! I couldn’t be happier.


My better half says I buffed too much and it’s not satin anymore, its too semi-gloss. What can I do to take the sheen down without producing a haze? I was thinking maybe 00 or 000 steel wool w/ some water? She said that the lamp was intended to look reclaimed and now with this flawless finish it looks like an IKEA reclaimed lamp…haha.


At a minimum, I have a process now for making my poly jobs look good. I’m happy.

Please disregard the mess that is my family room….

10 replies so far

View the_other_ken's profile


38 posts in 3209 days

#1 posted 12-22-2015 03:44 PM

Stay away from the coarser steel wool, it will just put big scratches on your projects. I’d probably just try going over it with the 0000 steel wool again, without any wax. This should take it down to a satin finish. If it doesn’t work, at least you haven’t done any damage to the piece.

View conifur's profile


955 posts in 1385 days

#2 posted 12-22-2015 04:18 PM

By chance were you using foam brushes on your project?

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View jumbojack's profile


1685 posts in 2857 days

#3 posted 12-22-2015 04:41 PM

I usually finish with Johnson’s Paste Wax applied with OOOO steel wool. Try it you too will like it.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View AAANDRRREW's profile


213 posts in 1406 days

#4 posted 12-22-2015 04:48 PM

No, wipe on poly – no brushes.

As for the wax – is this a wood product wax or an automotive wax? My local home depot didn’t have a single thing for wax like I noticed at the hardware store. Just polys, shellacs, etc.

View splintergroup's profile


2499 posts in 1456 days

#5 posted 12-22-2015 06:17 PM

Give it a scrubbing with paper towels or an old cotton sock.

When I use Poly, I’ll typically apply a coat of thinned (2:1 mineral spirits/poly) with a foam brush.
If allowed to dry for 2-3 hours, I’ll re-coat without and sanding, otherwise I like to let it dry overnight followed by a wet sanding with 400 grit paper and mineral spirits. This works good for flat surfaces (like a shelf), but avoid cutting through the finish on the edges. If the piece is small or irregular, I’ll scuff it up with 4-0 wool.

Repeat rinse until the desired thickness is reached.

The sanding should have eliminated all the pits and any defects like orange peel. runs, or dust nibs. The last coat will always have some issue, so I’ll sand as before then follow up with 4-0 steel wool until I can confirm that the surface has been fully scuffed (by shining light off the surface). At this point it has a nice matte finish and is perfectly smooth.
To get rid of the wool scratches, I’ll buff with a paper towel or old sock. I like those blue towels that are more ‘cloth like’, but plain paper works ok. This will glossen it up a tad. Remember that any further buffing will remove coarser scratches and replace them with finer scratches. It is these scratches that change how the light reflects and the coarser the scratches, the more random the reflections and the more satin/matte the finish.

If I want a tad more gloss, I’ll hit the surface with paste wax. Less gloss?, I’ll stop after the 4-0 steel wool.

View MrUnix's profile


7100 posts in 2432 days

#6 posted 12-22-2015 06:23 PM

As for the wax – is this a wood product wax or an automotive wax?

Paste wax, commonly used on furniture. Also works great for waxing the shiny metal bits on your power tools, like the table saw top, jointer and planer beds, etc… to keep them from rusting and letting wood slide over ‘em easy. You can find it all sorts of places… I’ve seen it at Home Depot as well as the local grocery store :)

Here it is at Home Depot: Johnsons paste wax


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View AAANDRRREW's profile


213 posts in 1406 days

#7 posted 12-22-2015 07:24 PM

hmmm… The HD by me must not have it by the stains, paint and finishes then…

View splintergroup's profile


2499 posts in 1456 days

#8 posted 12-22-2015 07:39 PM

On thing to remember with waxes is paste wax (like Johnson’s or Minwax) is they can be removed with mineral spirits.
Automotive waxes almost always have silicones, which usually means you never can remove them well enough to apply a wood finish over (if that ever is needed). Auto waxes will protect better than paste waxes.

I’ve only found the Johnson’s at my local supermarket, Minwax at the big box stores (or mail order)

View ClammyBallz's profile


449 posts in 1370 days

#9 posted 12-22-2015 08:03 PM

hmmm… The HD by me must not have it by the stains, paint and finishes then…

Nope, they put it in the cleaning section.

View Tennessee's profile


2893 posts in 2748 days

#10 posted 12-22-2015 09:00 PM

In my HD, Johnson’s is usually with the odd finishes, like Danish Oil, Japan Dryer and so on.

Been using 0000 steel wool and Johnson’s paste wax for a semi-gloss finish for better than 30 years. When I want mirror finish, I use Megula’s #2 when the poly or Tru-Oil or lacquer is absolutely dry, applying it with a microfiber cloth and taking it off with a clean microfiber towel.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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