wipe on poly, question!

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Forum topic by dakremer posted 07-27-2010 06:31 AM 2854 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2742 posts in 3297 days

07-27-2010 06:31 AM

Topic tags/keywords: wipe on poly ukulele restore

I am restoring a 100+ year old ukulele that was sitting up in my parents attic for god knows how long. It has no sentimental value, but I actually play the ukulele so thought I’d be a nice addition. I sanded it down as best I could. It has a lot of stress fractures in the wood – not sure if thats the correct term – but it looks really dried and wrinkles (tiny cracks) all over it. I could not sand them out, so left them – hoping a shiny finish might mask it a little…probably not though

after I sanded to 600 grit…i started applying coats of wipe-on-poly (cause its what i had around, and didnt want to spend any money on this thing). I am going to end up with about 10+ coats when its all said and done. Can you “finish your finish” with pumice and rottenstone on a wipe on poly? I want a very high gloss instrument finish. Thanks a lot


-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

13 replies so far

View yarydoc's profile


417 posts in 3350 days

#1 posted 07-27-2010 08:03 AM

You might want to check this out
Its on the Beal Wood Buff System. I have one of these that I have used for about two years and it works great.

-- Ray , Florence Alabama

View vicrider's profile


179 posts in 3103 days

#2 posted 07-27-2010 08:33 AM

Hi dakremer,

That looks like a nice Uke; well worth refurbing. If you have built up a nice coat of finish, I am sure you can rub it out. For best results allow it to cure out before polishing.

-- vicrider

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3247 days

#3 posted 07-27-2010 08:54 AM

Lee Valley has a descent instruction on using both.. HERE

View dakremer's profile


2742 posts in 3297 days

#4 posted 07-27-2010 02:18 PM

most sites say to use pumice and rottenstone on lacquer and shellac finishes…I cant find anything that says to use it over poly – so just curious if it’ll give it the same effect

-- Hey you dang woodchucks, quit chucking my wood!!!!

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4423 days

#5 posted 07-27-2010 02:38 PM

Absolutely you can. I do it often.

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

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 3159 days

#6 posted 07-27-2010 02:39 PM

You can polish just about any finish so long as you have a base of finish to work with. But it has to be really dry (hard) first. I would think that the new automotive polishing compounds would be much more consistent, and easier to use either by hand or power. They range from the orange rubbing compound down to super fine 10,000 or higher grit. Cut finish back with 800 to 1200 paper on block to dead flat. Polish first with orange. Then one or two more steps with finer.

I have both pumice and rottenstone, but have never felt compelled to use them with all the much superior choices available at the auto body supply store.

Good luck with the uke.

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4423 days

#7 posted 07-27-2010 03:37 PM

Roger, I’m going to have to try that automotive stuff… I’ve been doing it the old-fashioned way.

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

View PurpLev's profile


8547 posts in 3854 days

#8 posted 07-27-2010 03:52 PM

yes you can, only difference is that poly will take more work to buff than lacquer and shellac – but it can be buffed just the same.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3256 days

#9 posted 07-28-2010 04:14 AM

Roger is on it. Look at Popular Woodworking, Wood, and Fine wOODWORKING sites for info on using automotive polishes. McGuir’s (sp?) is highly recomended.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View Chinitorama's profile


105 posts in 3504 days

#10 posted 07-28-2010 06:56 AM

Turtle Wax swirl remover works on wiping poly too. Results looked good to me.


View tdv's profile


1188 posts in 3275 days

#11 posted 07-28-2010 01:44 PM

Being a guitar player I can appreciate the quality of this instrument it looks like it once cost someone a lot of money, abalone inlay didn’t come cheap when that was made. My only observation is that the finest instruments are usually finished with a very thin lacquer to retain the resonance of the soundboard & if you apply to much finish ,or too thickly it will numb the natural resonance. Sanding sealer & a couple of coats of nitro celluose spray would be better it will also buff up to a good gloss. The thing is you can’t put onto poly it will melt, it would have to be removed first, but I think the instrument warrants the effort

-- God created wood that we may create. Trevor East Yorkshire UK

View Rick  Dennington's profile (online now)

Rick Dennington

6307 posts in 3399 days

#12 posted 07-28-2010 04:13 PM


I use to build guitars years ago, and also been playing instruments all my life, especially the old vintage
Martins…... All I can say that is if you intended to play this instrument, you have ruined the sound with
all the coats of poly you have (will) put on it….Poly is not made to be put on an instrument of any kind.
But…. if you just wanted to make the instrument LOOK good, it’ll do that alright. The ONLY finish that should go on an instrument is nitrocelluose, so it will have a dead sound now…..As far as the small cracks in the body of the uke, you could have used “cleats” to stop it from cracking more… just my observation, no critizium.

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

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5133 posts in 4165 days

#13 posted 07-28-2010 04:29 PM

Poly should be used on bar tops and barns. (Wanna know how I REALLY feel?)


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