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question on evening the sheen on a finish

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Forum topic by bbsherman posted 08-15-2016 12:44 PM 736 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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bbsherman

6 posts in 118 days


08-15-2016 12:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: poly tung oil wiping varnish walnut

Hi -

First time post from someone fairly new to woodworking.

I’m building a desk and I’m in the process of finishing the top. The top is solid wood – cherry, walnut and soft maple. I sanded down to 220 and began applying a homemade oil varnish with the standard 1/3 (satin) poly, 1/3 100% tung oil, 1/3 mineral spirits (low odor). I’m in a california marine environment – hot dry days, cool foggy evenings.

After wiping on 3 coats (over 3 days) of the varnish and then wiping off with a dry rag after about 20 minutes, i noticed it was slightly streaky in good light. it looked as if you could see wiping marks with some areas shinier and more like a film and others matte and more of the wood grain showing. There were also spots where very tiny droplets formed and when I wiped them down, they created shiny streaks.

i figured it was either that i didn’t mix the satin poly well enough or that was building a film in some areas and not in others—especially noting less shiny/film in the more open pore walnut. With about 1/2 of the mixture left, I added some more (very well mixed) poly and mineral spirits, but no more oil. i applied two more coats (at least 24 hours drying in between coats) and wiped these down evenly with the clean rag i used to apply it, but not with a dry rag. I figured this would better build an even film.

it does appear there is more shiny/film areas overall, but it’s still totally uneven. Some wood grain oiled looking areas and some that have more of a sheen to them and look like the grain is covered with a film. You don’t notice in general overhead light, but with a bright light above the wood it becomes obvious.

Thoughts on next steps? i’m reluctant to add more coats at this point. I’m considering rubbing it down with some 400 grit and some kind of lubricant (water and soap?) or some other way to buff/polish and even things out. But maybe I do need more coats—since I’m wiping it on—to even things out and build a film over 100% of the surface?

I don’t want a full on plastic finish, but since this is the top I did want some more liquid and abrasion resistance than using just 100% tung oil.


15 replies so far

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

5765 posts in 954 days


#1 posted 08-15-2016 04:45 PM

I don’t know if I’d wipe it a second time like you would stain.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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pintodeluxe

4859 posts in 2281 days


#2 posted 08-15-2016 05:09 PM

My usual process for rubbing out a finish is with a soft sanding sponge and a spray bottle of water.

However in this case I would use #0000 steel wool and furniture wax. I use Howard’s Walnut wax, but any furniture grade wax in a matching color will work. It does a great job of evening the sheen, and will take a gloss finish down to a satin look. Work with a light hand, and with the grain.

Good luck with it.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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OSU55

1063 posts in 1457 days


#3 posted 08-15-2016 06:01 PM

I use scotchbrite (gray and/or white pads) and a drill with sanding pad, and sealant for clear coats, but it’s the same thing Pinto describes. If you didn’t stain the wood, you can lightly sand and recoat as many times as you want without concern for going through the stain. I usually do a lite single pass with 600 grint, then 800 or a 1000, to remove nibs, depending on the sheen I want, then the scotchbrite. Here's some info on oils and poly you might find interesting.

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KnickKnack

1062 posts in 3034 days


#4 posted 08-16-2016 09:38 AM

What I do, which seems to work for me for satin finishes (my favourite) is as follows…
First coat – just wipe on – leave to dry.
I then rub that down with oil on wet and dry sandpaper – a smallish piece, with my fingers – work on a small section – when you start, it will feel “rough” – keep it wet with oil – but when the coat is smooth it all gets quite slippery – move to next small section – this uses quite a lot of oil – when you think you’re finished, just rub your fingers over the surface – it should be smooth all over – if you feel any rough spots – a bit more sanding. Wipe most of that off, then apply the next coat of actual finish to the somewhat wet surface, mixing it with whatever oil remains. Before it gets tacky, wipe it off. I usually use 1000 grit for this.
Repeat a few times. The last time rub quite hard with paper towels until it’s basically dry – this may get quite “squeaky”. A final coat or two of wax finishes the process.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

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bbsherman

6 posts in 118 days


#5 posted 08-18-2016 05:19 PM

Okay, so it sounds like everyone is suggesting I go ahead and rub out the finish now and not apply any more coats of wiping oil varnish.

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KnickKnack

1062 posts in 3034 days


#6 posted 08-18-2016 07:13 PM

Okay, so it sounds like everyone is suggesting I go ahead and rub out the finish now and not apply any more coats of wiping oil varnish.
- bbsherman

I’m not saying that – if you don’t have enough on, you’ll never be able to rub it down to get a decent finish – I’ve tried that a number of times, due to impatience – it never works – you end up having to add more coats.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

View jwmalone's profile

jwmalone

769 posts in 170 days


#7 posted 08-19-2016 12:59 AM

I’ve used that low odor thinner before, and I don’t like it. If its that white milky crap it will swell up a china bristle brush and didn’t seem to mix well with the varnish which should not happen, so I never used it to cut any oil based finish. Maybe I got a bad batch but I never use it . I tried using it to clean my hands (varnish) it felt all goey like I tried using water never bought it again. And it was low odor mineral spirits.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

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bbsherman

6 posts in 118 days


#8 posted 08-19-2016 01:17 AM

On further thought and inspection, I think that the more porous walnut not taking the finish the same as the less porous maple and cherry. The maple and cherry look finished and ready to even out. The walnut looks like it was oiled, but has virtually no film on it. It looks mostly like wood that was treated with tung oil rather than a poly varnish. I probably should have used some sealer before I started. I guess it’s also just a challenge using dissimilar woods together.

View BurlyBob's profile

BurlyBob

3697 posts in 1733 days


#9 posted 08-19-2016 02:31 AM

What type of rag are you using. I use a polyester cloth wrapped in women’s panty hose. It doesn’t lint and when folded in a rectangle I use it like a squeegee. I thin my poly finish super thin and watch the reflection in the light to insure smooth even coverage.

View nightguy's profile

nightguy

213 posts in 130 days


#10 posted 08-19-2016 02:46 AM



On further thought and inspection, I think that the more porous walnut not taking the finish the same as the less porous maple and cherry. The maple and cherry look finished and ready to even out. The walnut looks like it was oiled, but has virtually no film on it. It looks mostly like wood that was treated with tung oil rather than a poly varnish. I probably should have used some sealer before I started. I guess it s also just a challenge using dissimilar woods together.

- bbsherman

I think you found the answer yourself, since I use Cherry, QS White Oak and Walnut pretty much exclusively, Walnut does take more coats for a film finish compared to the others.

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bbsherman

6 posts in 118 days


#11 posted 08-19-2016 04:09 AM

Using clean cotton from cut up old t-shirts. Folded into a small square with no edges or seams exposed. I apply plenty of wiping varnish so I am pretty sure I am getting a good, even coat. The rag is soaked at the end. As I said, the first few coats I wiped on and then wiped off with a dry cloth 20 minutes later. The more recent coats I wipe on and then even out with the same wet cloth and let it dry.


What type of rag are you using. I use a polyester cloth wrapped in women s panty hose. It doesn t lint and when folded in a rectangle I use it like a squeegee. I thin my poly finish super thin and watch the reflection in the light to insure smooth even coverage.

- BurlyBob


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bbsherman

6 posts in 118 days


#12 posted 08-19-2016 04:15 AM

Yes, seems like that may the case. I know now, but not sure if I should keep adding coats to the whole thing, just the walnut parts, or stop here and lightly sand and just even things out where they stand. From what I’ve read 5 coats should be enough even for a wiping formula. Again, I’m not looking to make the top look like it’s under glass, but i do want some protection since it will be a working desk.

On further thought and inspection, I think that the more porous walnut not taking the finish the same as the less porous maple and cherry. The maple and cherry look finished and ready to even out. The walnut looks like it was oiled, but has virtually no film on it. It looks mostly like wood that was treated with tung oil rather than a poly varnish. I probably should have used some sealer before I started. I guess it s also just a challenge using dissimilar woods together.

- bbsherman

I think you found the answer yourself, since I use Cherry, QS White Oak and Walnut pretty much exclusively, Walnut does take more coats for a film finish compared to the others.

- nightguy


View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

5733 posts in 2835 days


#13 posted 08-19-2016 05:01 PM

If ypu want a high gloss on poly I use Novus plastic polish which has worked fine for me.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Nikki's profile

Nikki

79 posts in 240 days


#14 posted 08-22-2016 02:47 AM

It would have been very helpful if you could have added a picture so we could see what you are referring to.

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bbsherman

6 posts in 118 days


#15 posted 09-22-2016 11:40 PM

Just to close this up for others who may view this thread…

I mixed up a new batch of oil wiping varnish and used semi-gloss instead of satin poly for this batch. I also used citrus solvent instead of the low odor mineral spirits. I applied two coats and the top looks much better—glossier of course, but the film finish is now even across all of the wood species. I suspect the main reason for success was just adding a couple more coats, but it’s possible that the gloss poly and/or the citrus solvent played a role since those two variables were changed from the first batch of wiping oil varnish I mixed up.

Now I’m letting it cure while I finish the base and will gently rub it out with 0000 steel wool to try to bring down the gloss a bit. But I’m pretty happy with it at this point and look forward to getting the base completed and attaching the top.

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