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Botched Polycrylic Finish - Looking for Help.

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Forum topic by peterman_lp posted 06-26-2016 11:56 PM 581 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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peterman_lp

5 posts in 164 days


06-26-2016 11:56 PM

Because it will likely be very clear soon, I’m a certified newbie when it comes to finishing wood and furniture.

My wife and I found an old desk on the side of the road and tossed it in the back of our car so we could refinish it for our friends daughter. The plan is to refinish the wood on the desk top and paint the remainder of the piece a shade of white.
I sanded the top of the desk down to the wood with 40 grit, then 120 grit, and finally 220 grit sandpaper. There was some old top coat that I had to get through.

I stained the top of the desk with Minwax Dark Walnut and let it set in for about two weeks.

After that I began to seal the wood with Minwax Polycrylic protective finish – clear gloss. The wood was very soft so it essentially absorbed the first two coats, so I hit the third coat with a thicker layer before I sanded the poly with 220 grit. I then proceeded to add 3 more coats of polycrylic, leaving roughly 24 hours (or more) of dry time in between each coat. I either roughed up or sanded in between each coat to get rid of any bubbles and to even out the finish before proceeding to the next coat. All in all this part of the project turned out great.

This is where things started to go south – quickly.
I wanted a glass like sheen on the top portion of the desk, so I looked into how to make it happen. Everything that read essentially said “sand with 400 grit, then 800 grit, 1000 grit, and finally 1500 grit, finishing with an auto rubbing compound.”
So I did just that – kind of.

I used soap and water to lube up the top of the desk and then used a sanding block with 400 grit sanding paper, Lightly guiding up and down the grain. I took extra care on the edges of the top so I didn’t cut through the finish, and then wiped the desk down.
I repeated the same process with 800 grit, and then 0000 grade steel wool.
The finish at this point looked pretty beat up, but at least it was level and smooth. I assumed that the auto rubbing compound I bought would bring it back up to a high-gloss glassy sheen.
Long story short, it didn’t. I just looked terrible. There was no gloss to any of it, and it just looked like a polished version of the beat up desk I had before.

Before I rubbed out the finish, it looked great and I probably should have just polished at that point of left it alone.

So I sanded again to get back through the polish, and had the brilliant idea to use some spray on polycrylic to bring it back up to a high gloss finish and be done. That didn’t help at all. The poly got bunched up and the top is pretty much garbage.

OK, thanks for reading all of that. Here are my questions:

1. If I sand through all of the rough polycrylic and bring it back to a level playing field, will I be able to bring it back to a high gloss finish? Or, will I likely have to sand the whole thing back to the original wood and repeat the process from the staining?
2. Is it even possible to bring polycrylic to a glass like finish?
3. Did I misinterpret the rubbing out phase and screw myself by roughing up the finish too much?
4. Is there a better -and newbie friendly- finish that would work better for the glass like finish I am seeking?

Tell me what I did wrong so I can learn from all of this. I’m pretty frustrated right now.


14 replies so far

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

808 posts in 2314 days


#1 posted 06-27-2016 12:05 AM

Peter, it’s not the end of the world but it does really suck when hard work winds up looking like a turd. You’re at a point I think to look to cut your losses, sand it flat again with 220 apply another coat and be done with it.

Not sure what you’ve got in your mind for the high gloss finish, but poly isn’t usually very well regarded for “Fine” furniture work, but it’s awesome for, “I got kids and don’t want to have to do this over” which works for me. You can look at French Polishing techniques on Youtube or Mirror Coat epoxy finish for super high gloss. I have been trying several of the products that better LJ’s than I recommend and for price and ease of use MW WB Polycrylic is a goto for me, it shoots very nicely from a HVLP gun.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View GR8HUNTER's profile

GR8HUNTER

1137 posts in 177 days


#2 posted 06-27-2016 12:23 AM

I use minwax fast drying poly clear ,sanding in between with 220 lightly last sand with notebook paper folded

-- Tony Reinholds,Pa. REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

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peterman_lp

5 posts in 164 days


#3 posted 06-27-2016 12:27 AM

My wife kept telling me to stop and that it looked fine where it was, but I didn’t listen.

I’ll hit it again with the 220 and see what happens. There is definitely enough poly on the piece to sand pretty deep without hitting the grain. I’ll post some pictures of where we are at with the project once I get back from the lake.

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peterman_lp

5 posts in 164 days


#4 posted 06-27-2016 12:29 AM

GRSHUNTER, do you use notebook paper over the final coat, or before the final coat?

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

808 posts in 2314 days


#5 posted 06-27-2016 12:35 AM



My wife kept telling me to stop and that it looked fine where it was, but I didn t listen.

LOL, mine always says you’re the only person that will ever notice it

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View JAAune's profile

JAAune

1643 posts in 1781 days


#6 posted 06-27-2016 01:54 AM

Finishes like Polycrylic aren’t the best for rubbing out. The multiple coats don’t dissolve into each other during application and those layers are visible if they are sanded through. All the sanding and polishing has to be done without cutting through the final coat.

A second problem is that the finish was probably not fully cured. It can take over a week for some of those products to harden enough for polishing.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

View Ger21's profile

Ger21

1047 posts in 2595 days


#7 posted 06-27-2016 02:51 PM

Polycrylic takes a very long time to dry enough to be rubbed out. Probably more than month.

And 3 coats would have been plenty. I’d sand it with 220, and spray on a heavy coat of gloss, and call it done.
It’s not the right finish for a mirror rubbed out finish.

-- Gerry, http://www.thecncwoodworker.com/index.html http://www.jointcam.com

View GR8HUNTER's profile

GR8HUNTER

1137 posts in 177 days


#8 posted 06-27-2016 02:56 PM

just be


GRSHUNTER, do you use notebook paper over the final coat, or before the final coat?

- peterman_lp


I do it just before the last coat it does work

-- Tony Reinholds,Pa. REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View BinghamtonEd's profile

BinghamtonEd

2281 posts in 1834 days


#9 posted 06-27-2016 03:16 PM

How long did you wait to rub out the finish? I did the same think you’re trying to do (the refinished cedar chest in my projects), minus the soap. Like yours, the first coat really soaked in, then I followed up with 2 thicker coats, a day apart. I let it sit for a week, then hit it with wet/dry sandpaper from the auto store. I used a spray bottle to mist the surface, and built up a slurry with the sandpaper. Followed it up with some car wax, buffed out, and I didn’t have any weird issues. Maybe yours didn’t cure long enough?

I think you could sand it all back with 220, and put on a coat of gloss, you shouldn’t need to go too heavy with it, assuming you can completely sand out any rubbing compound, soap, etc that may have been left behind.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

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peterman_lp

5 posts in 164 days


#10 posted 06-30-2016 12:11 AM

I’m guessing I didn’t wait long enough for the finish to cure. I waited about 5 days before I started rubbing it out.

I’m fairly confident that with how many coats I applied, I’ll be able to sand through all the imperfections and the rubbing compound. I just hope it is enough.

I’ll post pictures when I get a chance to work on it again.

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peterman_lp

5 posts in 164 days


#11 posted 07-03-2016 01:59 PM

I learned a valuable lesson on sanding near edges yesterday. I’m going to have to sand the whole top down and start over. I’m betting this one will turn out much better.

Has anyone on here used the paint roller method with polyurethane? The one where you roll on the poly but then lock the roller and essentially screed the bubbles and roller marks off?

View ChefHDAN's profile

ChefHDAN

808 posts in 2314 days


#12 posted 07-03-2016 04:43 PM



Has anyone on here used the paint roller method with polyurethane? The one where you roll on the poly but then lock the roller and essentially screed the bubbles and roller marks off?
- peterman_lp

Can’t think of why you’d want to do this for furniture work. Use a good brush and work in a reasonable temperature zone and you should be able to lay down a good coat. This roller method seems to be a waste of time and product, and poly works best in thin layers IMO,. a thick coat will take much longer to dry and that just increases time for debis to fall into the finish

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

115202 posts in 3041 days


#13 posted 07-03-2016 05:29 PM

I see a few problems first of all your sanding regiment is not correct you don’t start at 40 grit and you don’t jump so many grits while sanding(see link) . It may also be that you did not let the Minwax Dark Walnut dry long enough given it’s an oil base product and you putting a water base product on top of oil, in addition Polycrylic says right on the can to recoat after 3 hours not 24 hours, Like others have said Polycrylic does not melt into the previous coats except when done within the right time period. Another issue might be that you did not buy Glossy Polcrylic you may have purchase one with dulling agents in it like satin Polycrlics,I’ve made the mistake of buy a satin and a gloss at the same time.
I use Polycrlics all the time and have buffed it out in less than 6 hrs. Since you recoated in a longer time than required you have separate layers of finish so buffing is taking you down to a previous layer of finish perhaps in a spotty manner.

http://lumberjocks.com/a1Jim/blog/43345

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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a1Jim

115202 posts in 3041 days


#14 posted 07-03-2016 05:54 PM

BTW
Welcome to Ljs

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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