Polyshades anyone?

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Forum topic by DaveLikeGolf posted 12-18-2007 05:25 PM 19344 views 1 time favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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25 posts in 3816 days

12-18-2007 05:25 PM

I’m almost at the point of finishing 3 projects. I have a chest of drawers and 2 nightstands made out of cherry, a music stand made out of genuine mahogany (for a Christmas gift that needs to be finished soon!) and a new dresser/changing table combo out of genuine mahogany for my daughter (expected arrival in February).

I’m having a devil of a time getting the finish color I want with my limited knowledge on the subject. Basically, I’ve never put finish on quality wood before. Browsing the limited selection of minwax finishes at the Home Depot, I have decided the “Bombay Mahogany” is the perfect color match for what I want. The problem is it’s a polyshade. I don’t know if I want to use polyshades because in my test strips, I just can’t get comfortable with the idea of painting it on and just letting it dry. I’m afraid over large areas the coloring will be inconsistent and I don’t really want to waste so much work with a bad finishing job. Does anyone have any suggestions for use of the polyshade or alternatives to the polyshade that will give me that deep red/brown antique color I want (other than waiting 20 years for the wood to change itself)?

A couple of things worth mentioning: I don’t have a spray booth or the resources to buy the necessary equipment anytime soon (baby on the way). I’ve used both the minwax red mahogany stain and the mahogany GEL stain as a test and weren’t satisfied with either one.

Thanks in advance!

-- David, Lakeland, FL - GO BOLTS!!!

25 replies so far

View leonmcd's profile


204 posts in 3967 days

#1 posted 12-18-2007 07:04 PM

I tried Polyshade about two years ago and never got it to work. Could not get the color and the poly to cooperate. The more I brushed to even the color the more it separated. Finally sanded it down and used a separate stain and poly.

BTW – I working on a poplar music box that I want to stain a dark red mahogany color. Tried Minwax and could not get an even color. I’m now using TransTint Dyes red mahogany. I put a few drops in about an ounce of shellac as a sealer. After that dried I rubbed in full strength dye on top ( I wanted it dark ). It is working for me. BTW – the dye is crazy expensive $17 for 2 ounces. Might be too expensive for a large project that you want really dark.

-- Leon -- Houston, TX - " I create all my own designs and it looks like it "

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4032 days

#2 posted 12-18-2007 07:13 PM

Don’t do it! I think I used it Bombay Mahogany for this project:

It was awful to use with bad color penetration and with having to use multiple coats it’s very hard to deal with getting an even color.

Just my experience.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View matter's profile


210 posts in 3765 days

#3 posted 01-31-2008 04:58 PM

I have used PolyShades successfully once, and only once. I made 2 poplar high top tables for a client. It took a week of application, sanding, apply some more, sand it off, go for a beer, apply again…

10 coats plus 3 top coats of high gloss poly to protect it. Never will I use this product again.

-- The only easy wood project is a fire

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4060 days

#4 posted 01-31-2008 06:58 PM

Here is a link to Jeff Jewitt’s website page on colorants. You might want to try Transtints padded on in denatured alcohol, or added to a topcoat. There is also FAQs about dyes, UTCs and all sorts of information about staining and dyeing.

Just be sure to do test blocks in the same wood as the project, all the way through to final finish before committing to the final process on your own work.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View JJackson's profile


104 posts in 4078 days

#5 posted 01-31-2008 10:01 PM

For Gods sake man, NO POLYSHADES! There are much better products out there that will assist well in the finishing department. Take a look at Waterlox or Arm-R-Seal.

-- Jeff, Indiana

View Paul's profile


660 posts in 4088 days

#6 posted 02-01-2008 12:56 AM

I agree with everyone. Run away. Run away.

Oh, I guess the product is okay for a utility piece that you’re doing fast and dirty and you don’t really care a whole lot how it looks. Utility shelves in the garage, a picnic table, dog house . . . but otherwise, you better be happy with what you see in the first stroke or two. The minute you try to go back for the third stroke and try to “fix” a spot before it dries completely, you start going downhill into amazing frustratiion.

-- Paul, Texas

View Loogie's profile


100 posts in 3776 days

#7 posted 02-01-2008 06:28 PM

Are you sure you HAVE to stain these pieces? Cherry and Mahogany are SO beautiful when finished but not stained. My wife thought a cherry entertainment center I built was too light. I told just to wait a while. Now it is just a beautiful red/brown. She loves it! I wouldn’t stain those pieces if you can help it at all. I have used Bartley Gel stain very successfully, but it is hard to find. Their Gel Varnish works really well too.

As for Polyshades, I tried it once and didn’t like it at all. Good luck, let us know what you decide.

-- Mark

View dalec's profile


612 posts in 3884 days

#8 posted 02-01-2008 08:16 PM

As far as Polyshades, I have used it to complete some trim out and an interior door and it works. It is not that predictable. If it were a project that I was solely responsible for, I would consider alternatives.

Whatever you decide to use, it is wise to have extra scrap wood to test the stain/finsihing on. It would be a shame to get all the cutting and assembly on a wood project completed and not get the finish just right.

You may also want to check out the Woodwhisperer’s site. He has some information about finishing – search “finishing”


View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4214 days

#9 posted 02-01-2008 08:41 PM

I’ve used polyshades a few times. Very tricky stuff. The first coat always looks uneven, but it improves with successive coats.

If I were you, I’d keep experimenting with mixing stains until I got the color I was looking for.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Kevin's profile


61 posts in 3060 days

#10 posted 01-04-2010 08:51 PM

Do you have plans for the music stand that you are willing to share?

View PigtailedWoodJockey's profile


1 post in 2587 days

#11 posted 04-22-2011 11:13 PM

Why, oh why didn’t I read this earlier? I have now DESTROYED a hope chest for my 17-year-old daughter. How can a company as reputable as Minwax manufacture this garbage? I have used so many of their products and found them to be delightful in the end result. This one was beyond horrendous. Run away, Golfing Dave!

View bradsgotwood's profile


1 post in 2344 days

#12 posted 12-21-2011 05:09 PM

I have now used polyshade on a few different pieces. The first coat is always bad. Steel wool, scrape repeat. do this about 5 times and you get a great looking finish. The satin has never actually taken a satin luster for me. for the final topcoat i do a light steel wool, then use a satin rub on poly. It gives it a beautiful luster. I use my wifes kotex pads to put on the rub on poly. They don’t leave any lint at all andthey are super absorbent.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2686 days

#13 posted 12-22-2011 04:43 AM

I would rub some BLO on some of your scrap pieces and you may have exactly the color you are going for. If so, I would wipe on some BLO followed by some wiped on Spar Urethane. Very easy to do and really brings out the beautiful grain of these woods. If you don’t already have BLO, just wipe some mineral spirits on your scrap to get a rough idea as to color.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


932 posts in 2351 days

#14 posted 12-22-2011 07:19 AM

It’s expensive, and I don’t know who to contact in south florida but…

Just me, and I have a project I’m planning on doing this with out of cherry…

Gemini aniline dye (diluted with denatured alcohol)
Then a lacquer wiping stain
finished with semi-gloss lacquer.

I’d say van dyke brown on the dye
I’d say probably new england chestnut on the stain.
But there are alot of options. The cool thing about this finishing system is that really adds definition to the wood’s natural grain. They wiping stain gets lifted into the lacquer, giving the grain dimention It’s hard to describe but awesome in effect on any kind of burl.

The down side is, it may be expensive if the whole saler has to ship to you.
But Gemini was cool enough to send me a free sample of the wiping stain, which I later had to buy a gallon of :/

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3064 days

#15 posted 12-22-2011 07:30 AM

I’ve done a couple of projects with Bombay Mahogany and had good results – but it’s been a bit tricky.

The best job came when I used a weenie roller on the large areas and really concentrated on keeping it even.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

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