Wiping varnish with fast dry poly?

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Forum topic by jimmy J posted 11-14-2016 01:47 PM 687 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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jimmy J

229 posts in 2526 days

11-14-2016 01:47 PM

I put 2 coats of Watco on my new entry table build. To give it a bit more durability, I made a wiping varnish for the next layers: 1 part BLO, 1.5 parts mineral spirits, 1 part fast dry poly (minwax). I put this on after the Watco was very dry. After applying and letting dry for a day, there is a sheen of oil that sits on top. It’s not sticky at all which is good, but it’s still surprising. Thoughts? Is fast drying poly the wrong choice? Why wouldn’t it dry fully?

8 replies so far

View HokieKen's profile


6293 posts in 1286 days

#1 posted 11-14-2016 02:00 PM

I use a similar finish often and have never had any issues. I use 1:1:0.5 BLO:MS:Poly. I don’t use fast dry poly and I use full gloss. I assume the fast-dry poly is oil-based? Maybe whatever additive is used to make it dry faster prevents the BLO and poly from mixing?

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5095 posts in 2640 days

#2 posted 11-14-2016 05:27 PM

I’m puzzled by what you did. Watco is nothing more than a wiping varnish, varnish thinned with MS (it is an alkyd varnish, so it has that going for it). So all you did was top a very thin varnish with a very thin varnish (urethane formula) mixed with BLO. Here’s what I think happened: the BLO takes a couple of days to cure even though the varnish (Minwax) component might dry more quickly. Waiting should allow that sheen to go away as the oil cures. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Danish oil (the stuff you mixed) but it isn’t going to add durability to a varnish (Watco). Next time consider just using varnish from the getgo, and thin it however you want. BTW, here's a good short articvle on oil finishes by Flexner.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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jimmy J

229 posts in 2526 days

#3 posted 11-14-2016 09:08 PM

Agreed. Both are wiping varnishes. I ran out of Watco, which is one reason I made the batch of home brew. I know Watco doesn’t add too much protection, so I thought I’d make a slightly better version.

View SignWave's profile


451 posts in 3182 days

#4 posted 11-14-2016 09:22 PM

You might want to experiment with adding some Japan Dryer. I made my own mix of 2 parts BLO, 2 parts mineral spirits, 2 parts Helmsman (it’s what I had on the shelf at the time), and 1 part Dryer. I haven’t had any issues like you describe, but I don’t know if it’s the different varnish or the dryer.

FWIW, I have also mixed fast drying poly and mineral spirits 1:1 for a wiping varnish and it worked well, but I like the mix with BLO a bit more.

-- Barry,

View DirtyMike's profile


637 posts in 1049 days

#5 posted 11-14-2016 11:44 PM

I have to think that the Blo was the last to cure. When I make a wipe on finish I only use Blo on the first coat as it takes longer to cure.

View ArtMann's profile


1081 posts in 963 days

#6 posted 11-17-2016 12:50 AM

The Watco has very similar ingredients as your custom mix. Why not just use the Watco?

View OSU55's profile


1866 posts in 2137 days

#7 posted 11-18-2016 02:05 AM

Forget the blo and the watco. This may help.

View waho6o9's profile


8427 posts in 2724 days

#8 posted 11-18-2016 02:10 AM

Watco takes 72 hours to dry :) or longer

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