Finish work in cold weather

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Forum topic by Vicki posted 02-24-2011 05:03 AM 1686 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1099 posts in 3341 days

02-24-2011 05:03 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing

I was wondering how other folks handle staining and finishing thier projects with the cold temps. It’s my understanding that most paint, finish, etc. is to be used in 50 deg. or higher temps. So if you live where it is below 40 deg. what do you do? Keep the shop heat running? Do it in the house and put up with the smell? Wait for warm weather? How I’ve handled it so far is using paint and the water based poly indoors since they don’t smell bad. I use the stain in the shop on days I’m in there running the heat anyway. Just make my last task and leave after shutting off the heat. I have a project now that I want to use the Helmsman spar varnish on, but think I should wait for it to get warmer?

-- Vicki on the Eastern Shore of MD

17 replies so far

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3159 posts in 3106 days

#1 posted 02-24-2011 05:09 AM

I don’t have an answer for you on that. Here in southern California, I actually get some ice on my windshield some days, here. It’s actually about 38 or 39F, but the sky temperature is obviously lower, or I wouldn’t have ice. I did have to wait extra time to get the tung oil and lacquer finish to dry on a recent project, even so.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View Bob Collins's profile

Bob Collins

2513 posts in 3681 days

#2 posted 02-24-2011 05:10 AM

G’day Vicki, sorry can’t help, we don’t have problem with the cold in our part of Australia.

-- Bob C, Australia. Your best teacher is your last mistake.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3710 days

#3 posted 02-24-2011 05:18 AM

I make sure I leave the heat on in the shop while doing glue ups or finishing. I actually start warming things up the day before just so the heat is a little more even. Of course on really windy days I don’t even bother as the wind chill is to hard for my small electric heater to compete against.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Resurrected's profile


671 posts in 2689 days

#4 posted 02-24-2011 05:24 AM

I heat the shop for a few hours after staining / finishing. (propane torpedo heater) I plan to heat all year round as soon as I get the ching to finish the gas lines and buy the heater.

We get temps in the teens some times for days.

Its not pretty when Minwax stain does not dry and you finish it. Then take it inside to the home. The undried stain bleeds up and really makes a mess of things.

-- Who can I block now???????????????????????

View Vicki's profile


1099 posts in 3341 days

#5 posted 02-24-2011 06:06 AM

Thanks for the great answers. Sounds like I’m doing the right thing.

Glad to hear I can use my finish and just heat a couple of hours after. Thanks Resurrected.

-- Vicki on the Eastern Shore of MD

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 2690 days

#6 posted 02-24-2011 06:37 AM

I’ve avoided gluing as best as I can this winter, but I’ve had to do some of that and a lot of finishing (mostly stain/poly for some door casings and molding). I just put down a large plastic sheet I had in my den and made some mini saw horses to set the pieces on to dry.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View Karson's profile


35120 posts in 4397 days

#7 posted 02-24-2011 07:12 AM

Vicki; you should have done it a couple of days ago. It was beautiful. Thank’s for the drill press, we are putting it to good use but we are missing the chuck key, do you still have it? We had to use some different knobs because they were also missing.

We appreciate your generosity.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Vicki's profile


1099 posts in 3341 days

#8 posted 02-24-2011 09:02 AM

You’re right, but I just finished this project yesterday.

Glad you fixed the DP. Nothing was missing. I gave them a bag with the handles and the key. Maybe the guy left it in the wheelbarrow? Or they should look around for a grocery bag. He took it to the area behind the shop. I hope they didn’t throw it out. I really did give them all they needed.

So what was wrong with it? I really liked that machine until all the problems started. My new Ryobi seems OK so far, but flimsier and the Delta light is way better.

-- Vicki on the Eastern Shore of MD

View nate22's profile


475 posts in 2872 days

#9 posted 02-24-2011 09:22 PM

For me I bring my projects in the house to paint or stain when its cold outside. I live in Indiana and it can get down in the teens or tweties so I just paint and stain inside. I am acually waiting for stain to dry right now. And like a couple of others said if you use minwax outside when it’s cold then bring it inside it turns into a big mess. Belive me it’s not pretty.

-- Gracie's wooden signs. Middlebury, In.

View Dabcan's profile


255 posts in 2668 days

#10 posted 02-25-2011 12:40 AM

Bring them inside, it’s a fact of life in Canada… I usually do it in a room away from where we spend most of our time so we don’t notice the smell as much. I generally stick to non smelly finishes as these generally have low voc as well.

-- @craftcollectif ,,

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 2923 days

#11 posted 02-25-2011 01:37 AM

I work in the shop every night, and with our -35 nights with wind chill, there is no way to work outside here without heat. I have a radiant tube heater in my shop.

Would be nice to only see + 40 degree days or nights… :)

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3477 days

#12 posted 02-25-2011 03:16 AM

I have a gas furnace in my shop and in the winter I keep the heat around 60 when doing finishing work.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View John Jerman's profile

John Jerman

8 posts in 2690 days

#13 posted 02-25-2011 09:59 PM

Temperature is essential to a good finish. Up here in Canada I always have to make sure my shop is warm enough before I begin any finishing. In the past when I was less aware, the finish would be tacky for a long time and never look good. I spent more time scuffing, resanding and refinishing. In the end it’s all about temperature. If you don’t have access to heat in your shop then you need to wait for mother nature to be on your side.

View EPJartisan's profile


1118 posts in 3122 days

#14 posted 02-26-2011 07:13 AM

Yes.. I know that little bit of hell too well. But with my latest studio.. I “get to” figure in how much it will cost to heat my studio for the days while it cures. Otherwise I divide my jobs by the season.. steam bending and finishing in the warm months as much as possible.. carving and sculpting in the winter .. spring and fall are the best working times, except when it rains and then I keep a dehumidifier running all the time. I keep a thermometer and a hydrometer in every room. ahh yes.. nature.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

View Resurrected's profile


671 posts in 2689 days

#15 posted 02-26-2011 07:33 AM

Yea just got a check that is all profit. So what should I do with the cash. I know winter is almost up but i think I will buy the heater I been wanting. YES>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

-- Who can I block now???????????????????????

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