Wipe on Poly frustration,Help!!

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Forum topic by longboarder posted 10-24-2010 10:00 PM 6694 views 1 time favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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29 posts in 2019 days

10-24-2010 10:00 PM

I built a cherry coffee table 30”x 60” this is a large surface and want protection so I read on this forum to do a wipe on poly (Minwax). I used dew-axed shelac for 1st coat sanded with #320 then applied 6 coats of Minwax poly clear gloss, sanding between coats with #400. Let sit for 3 days. I want a satin finish so I sanded the last coat of gloss with 400 to get rid of dust nibs and Applied a coat of with cotton cloth ball as I did with every coat. Now I have a mess! I have dull streaks and gloss streaks and the sanding marks from the last sanding of the gloss coat are showing . Why is it that gloss hides previous sanding marks but not clear sating and why the streaking of gloss and dull ( Satin). Sure could use some advice. Maybe I should have done just a Poly Gel Satin from the beginning. The Gel process eliminates dust nibs problem from what I’ve heard and no sanding in between. But here I am with the current problem in front of me and not looking forward to going back to bare wood.

8 replies so far

View John Ormsby's profile

John Ormsby

1281 posts in 2491 days

#1 posted 10-24-2010 10:06 PM

I usually spray the last coat of poly. However, you will need to make sure the humidity and temps are proper for wiping on the final coat. You also need to apply enough material so as to keep it completely wet fro start to finish. This way it will have a chance to even out. Spraying is a lot easier. Just buy a spray can of satin and have at it.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View longboarder's profile


29 posts in 2019 days

#2 posted 10-24-2010 10:47 PM

Thanks for the reply but one of my biggest culprits is dust nibs even though I have a makeshift booth over the table.

View a1Jim's profile


112939 posts in 2331 days

#3 posted 10-24-2010 11:20 PM

I’m not sure but if it’s water base you can have problems waiting that long to recoat. If you have that many coats you can probibly buff if out.
Take a look hear

-- Custom furniture

View rhett's profile


699 posts in 2421 days

#4 posted 10-25-2010 12:38 AM

I dont believe the product you are using has anything to do with the problem. The fact that you have dull and shiny streaks suggests to me that your final sanding is not consistant across the top, or you sanded through some sections of finish. Are you sanding by hand or machine? If by hand, the dull streaks are from where you were pushing down harder than on the shiny streaks. This is the hardest part of rubbing out a high gloss to a satin sheen. You are trying to get a consistent scratch pattern in the finish to distort light rays.

I personally like to apply homade wipe on poly (60% MO 40% Poly) and on the final coat I use full strength to get a good thick “film” of finish on the wood.

Try rubbing out the final coat with 0000 steel wool. Also, a desk lamp laid on its side will help to guide you on where you are.

Good luck and don’t get discouraged, in the end you will only be a better woodworker.

-- It's only wood.

View shipwright's profile


5319 posts in 1552 days

#5 posted 10-25-2010 12:57 AM

OK I am a big fan of Minwax Wipe On Poly (see my projects) and I don’t think that the product is the problem. I have run into the dull / glossy scenario on a last coat a couple of times and I think it was because I was over wiping or cheaping out on the finish to get a quicker dry and avoid the dreaded dust. I have two bits of advice:
1) As others have stated, you must put a full wet coat on so it can self level
2) Do you have a walk in shower? It’s the most dust free environment you’ll ever find. I know 30×60 is pretty large but try to think of a place like that.

Personally if I wanted a satin finish and was worried about dust I’d produce the best gloss finish I could and then rub it out with mineral oil and wet / dry paper to about 600 grit, higher for higher sheen.

Paul M

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fiberglass trees.

View CharlieM1958's profile


15820 posts in 2972 days

#6 posted 10-25-2010 01:51 AM

I pretty much agree with everything shipwright said. Even the “mess” you have now could probably still be rubbed out to a satin finish without having to apply any more poly than you already have.

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

View ghazard's profile


380 posts in 2263 days

#7 posted 11-01-2010 03:36 PM

I have used Minwax wipe on poly on all my non cuttingboard projects. And plan to use it on a bar top that I am planning this winter. In doing some research I found Charles Neil on youtube. Excellent videos…specifically this video on rubbing out a finish. I suggest watching it.)

In my experience with Poly…which is comparatively little, I have found that I need to be at 800 grit or higher for the final sanding to keep the surface uniform. I use 400 for the first few coats then 800 before the last coat. I’m in a home/garage shop so realistically, in my mind, I am never going to get 100% dust-nub free. A trick that I learned here on LJ was to use a piece of a brown paper grocery bag, after the last coat is well dried, to get a smooth feel to the final coat. It knocks the nubs off, doesn’t reduce the sheen and is safe to do after the final coat. I don’t use a block or anything, just a scrap of paperbag around my fingers. I find that it works very well.

After watching the Charles Neil video I would venture that you might be OK, as CharlieM1958 suggests, to rub out the current finish a bit more and end up with the desired sheen without having to sand back to bare wood.

Good luck on the repair job.


-- "Hey, you dang woodchucks! Quit chuckin' my wood!"

View groy87's profile


132 posts in 1593 days

#8 posted 02-09-2011 02:49 AM

is there any difference between the different brands out there? I’ve been looking at Minwax and watco wipe on poly and I’m wondering if people have had better results with one brand over the other.

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