Minwax won't dry- Question

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Forum topic by Chelios posted 05-02-2010 03:24 AM 38971 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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568 posts in 3304 days

05-02-2010 03:24 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

It has been 2 weeks ago that I put on a coat of minwax finish and stain all in one product on a small table. It still tacky a bit today on certain spots. Has anyone experienced this before? The temperature has been between 55-78 F and humidity around 30% .

I didn’t want to throw out a little can my wife had bought last year but now I wish I had. As always thanks for your help.


25 replies so far

View Viking's profile


880 posts in 3433 days

#1 posted 05-02-2010 03:52 AM


Did you stir it well. I used same product l(gunstock) last week in about 90% shop humidity and it was ready for finish in about 2 hours.

Good Luck!

-- Rick Gustafson - Lost Creek Ranch - Colorado County, Texas

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


408 posts in 3260 days

#2 posted 05-02-2010 04:16 AM

When you say it was an all-in-one, I’m guessing stain and poly mix. What kind of wood was it and had it previously been finished or had any other treatments? Oil or water base?

-- Greg, Severn MD

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568 posts in 3304 days

#3 posted 05-02-2010 04:20 AM

Thanks Rick,

I was pretty sure I stirred it well but now that I think about it I don’t remember if I did stir it or just shook the can a bit. Maybe that’s what I did wrong…So if it isn’t drying is there a fix?

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568 posts in 3304 days

#4 posted 05-02-2010 04:23 AM

Greg thanks

The wood is oak. It did have another stain before that I sanded off. The finish I used was oil based but I don’t know what finish was used previously.

View Stevinmarin's profile


838 posts in 3314 days

#5 posted 05-02-2010 04:29 AM

Stirring is super important, but if you did that my guess is that the poly part of the mixture has gone bad. If I’m not mistaken, there is a solvent in polyurethane that needs to evaporate from the wood surface. If it were me, I think I would try to wipe as much off with mineral spirits at this point. I suspect the stain color will still remain and you could apply a new poly finish. Maybe seal it with a coat of shellac first? Maybe you could run a test in an inconspicuous spot.

-- Entertainment for mere mortal woodworkers.

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


408 posts in 3260 days

#6 posted 05-02-2010 04:36 AM

It is possible that the finish had past its shelf life (and that would be exacerbated if not well stirred). Depending on how much sanding you did, there might still be some existing finish in the wood. Polys don’t like lacquers (and some others) and that could also cause a drying problem on the poly.

-- Greg, Severn MD

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568 posts in 3304 days

#7 posted 05-02-2010 04:37 AM


Thanks for the advice…the can was pretty old. That’ll teach me..I am going to try that out with the mineral spirits and hope that the stain holds.

View Tim Lawson's profile

Tim Lawson

17 posts in 3190 days

#8 posted 05-02-2010 04:37 AM

I think that at this point I’d make the assumption that it isn’t going to dry. I’d share the suspicion that it wasn’t fully mixed when you applied it.

I’m not sure I have great options for you… You could try putting it outdoors on a sunny day and see if that finished the job by heating the surface. For example linseed oil kicks much faster when warm (160 degrees F). The other alternative is to try and lift the finish and not mess up the staining. I’d consider using OOOO steel wool and mineral spirits to see if that will remove the tacky areas.

You say the table is small – the area you’ll be most worried about is the top. If the above suggestions don’t fix it I’d try stripping the top. I’d start with a card scraper to lift the finish and then maybe sand or plane (depending on your comfort with the technique). If sanding then 180/220 grit is about the max you’ll need to go to. However I’d recommend using the restirred or new batch of finish only after you’ve tried it on a board of the same stock prepared the same way.

My motto is try the finish process / protocol on a scrap board board before applying it to a finished piece – even if it delays you by a week. That’s a small price to pay.

Good luck


-- Tim Lawson

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4124 days

#9 posted 05-02-2010 04:43 AM

What did you put on the wood, if anything, before you applied the Minwax?

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Chelios's profile


568 posts in 3304 days

#10 posted 05-02-2010 04:53 AM

Tim thanks you are right…this was a good lesson for me. I think from now on I will do trial runs on scrap pieces.

This is really helpful

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568 posts in 3304 days

#11 posted 05-02-2010 04:54 AM


I put nothing on…just sanded an old finish it already had.

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6349 posts in 3432 days

#12 posted 05-02-2010 08:00 AM

Greetings Chelios: I agree with Steveinmarin: I would wipe the whole table down real good with mineral spirits to remove the sticky stuff. Let it dry good for a couple of three hours, and check for tackyness. Then… get a new can of stain, put on a coat or two (?), let that dry for a day or so, then put the poly over the stain that way, and let that dry good. Sand, poly, light sanding, final coat of poly… that’ll do it. This may not be the way you want to go, but I think it’s the best way to fix your problem…...... later.

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....!!

View Chelios's profile


568 posts in 3304 days

#13 posted 05-02-2010 04:23 PM

Thanks Rick

This sounds good to me…I am going to try that today. I really do hope this resolves it….thanks again

View TheDane's profile


5575 posts in 3901 days

#14 posted 05-02-2010 04:56 PM

Steve is right … this happened to me a few years ago when I tried to use some 10 year old stain/poly on a bench I built. I’m not really that cheap … I intended to use some stuff that I had used a few weeks prior on a banister but grabbed the wrong can.

After letting it sit for a week (including a couple of days outside on the porch), I gave up and wiped it down with mineral spirits. It took several passes, but eventually I got rid of the goo leaving the color from the stain. A day or two later, I gave it a couple of coats of clear poly and it has been fine since.

From that little episode, I learned a couple of valuable lessons: I try to buy an amount that is right for the project so I don’t have a lot left over, and the first time I open a can of stain, finish, or paint, I use a Sharpie to write the date on the lid of the can. If it has been sitting more than a couple of months, I most often will just toss it and buy new.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View BigG's profile


56 posts in 3307 days

#15 posted 05-02-2010 07:19 PM

What TheDane said. Do not try and old finish!

-- Big G

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