Waterlox problems....

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Forum topic by miserybob posted 05-07-2011 05:39 PM 12084 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View miserybob's profile


88 posts in 3284 days

05-07-2011 05:39 PM

I’m using Waterlox wiping varnish (medium sheen) and after about 5 coats, it’s drying to a high-gloss plasticky look…

My test piece didn’t look this bad, but it was small…

What to do now?

I only have a week before the finished project is due.

Should I:

a) Get some Waterlox Satin and topcoat?

b) Wait as long as possible and rub it out with 0000 steel wool and wax?

c) Something else?

Is there anything I can do to speed cure time? I can crank up the heat in the garage and run a fan if it will help…


7 replies so far

View DrDirt's profile


4526 posts in 3982 days

#1 posted 05-07-2011 07:41 PM

I like to rub out to desired sheen but that is usually tabletops or other flat surfaces. What is the piece?

For faster curing the heat will help. The fan will have little effect on curing.

But a week should be enough cure time….barely

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View RJS's profile


89 posts in 3085 days

#2 posted 05-07-2011 08:21 PM

I use 5 coats of waterlox, medium sheen, on all of my knife handles. after the third coat it starts to build a sheen on the outside, not a professional, but I always assumed that that meant that the wood had absorbed all of the oil that it could take, because it doesn’t take much to make the sheen after the third coat. I sand the handles with 400 grit after the third coat, and 800 grit after the fourth coat. after the fifth coat dries completely I polish the handle with a piece of burlap. The sheen on my wife’s knife set faded slightly after about two months. I also follow the directions that say you should wait a minimum of 24 hours between coats, longer if it’s cold. I hope that this info. helps.

-- RJ

View mmh's profile


3677 posts in 3962 days

#3 posted 05-08-2011 05:47 PM

If you’re using a Waterlox product, try calling their 800 number. They know their product best and if you get a qualified technician you’ll get the best advice for their product.

When ever I use a tung/poly and pure poly finish there is always an issue of how it drys as how warm/cold the temperature is or how high the humidity is. If the climate in your finishing area is less than perfect for paint to dry, your finish will take a long time, especially if the coat is thick. I have had to remove the finish and start over from the workshop being too cold and sometimes since I use some very fancy burls that have unique densities and oil content, they can reak havoc in not coating evenly. A real super pain!

Since you have several coats curing, you may need to remove the tacky one or allow to dry before touching again. If you remove the tacky coat, allow to dry and then reapply a very thin coat. In high humidity or cold temps, I would try using a different type of finish such as a wax rub in or liquid high friction used for turning, or pure oil, thinly applied and allowed to dry in between coats.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View mmh's profile


3677 posts in 3962 days

#4 posted 05-09-2011 04:25 AM

Hey, I misread your posting and assumed that the Waterlox product was a ployeurethane. I’m not familiar with varnish, but re-suggest calling Waterlox’s hotline and speak to a technician or scientist who knows their product.

I’ve used a hair dryer to help dry a tung/poly finish and it’s risky as you can blow dust onto the project, but I had a cane to deliver and did a small spot fix (smaller than a dime) and had it dry within an hour. Don’t knowif the dryer really helped or the air did it on the way to delivering it to the client. Be careful of the dust issue!

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4367 days

#5 posted 05-09-2011 02:28 PM

Note: The main Waterlox product is a Tung Oil/Phenolic Resin varnish.

-- 温故知新

View h2olox's profile


6 posts in 3506 days

#6 posted 05-10-2011 05:50 PM


From our FAQ’s: There are two basic steps to the drying and curing of a Waterlox Original Tung oil finish and the dry times may vary depending on a number of factors, such as ventilation, humidity, temperature, substrate and size/scope of project.

1. The first step is the evaporation of the solvent “carrier” system. The evaporation of solvent usually occurs in the first 2 – 4 hours with proper cross-ventilation techniques.
2. The second step is the curing of the solids system, which is comprised of the oil and resin. The solids system completes 95% – 98% of its cure cycle in 7 – 14 days with proper ventilation; full cure, film hardness and chemical resistance properties are achieved in 30 – 90 days with continued adequate ventilation.

Ventilation – Proper ventilation and adequate air circulation must be provided when using any wood finishing materials. Most oil-based varnishes, including Waterlox, dry upon exposure to oxygen, which is also known as “oxidative cure.” A lack of cross-ventilation (air exchange) provides less free oxygen, slowing the drying process.

Humidity – In high humidity situations, ventilation is even more critical. High humidity will impede the drying process because there is less free oxygen in the atmosphere; therefore, the lower the humidity, the better the drying conditions.

Substrate – Softer woods absorb finishes deeper into the wood fibers. This deeper penetration leads to slower drying because of less exposure to oxygen. The opposite would be true in a harder wood, if the finish sits on top of the wood fibers it will dry slightly faster.

Temperature – Although temperature is still and important factor, it bears the least affect of all the factors of drying. Waterlox dries through oxidation as mentioned in the ventilation section. Oxidation is a reaction. Most reactions happen faster in warmer temperatures because the molecules/atoms are more active.

In many cases, cold/winter weather is almost always accompanied by lower humidity. So, applications completed in 30° F with 10% humidity and some ventilation will dry faster than an application in 90° F with 90% humidity and no ventilation.

That being said, our standard rule of thumb is to allow 24 hours dry time between coats. This may change slightly based on the conditions mentioned above.

As for the sheen. The Waterlox Original Sealer Finish will transition from about an 80% sheen level down to about a 50% sheen within a few months. It will look shiniest the day it is finished.

Hope this helps.


Chip Schaffner – Waterlox Coatings

View miserybob's profile


88 posts in 3284 days

#7 posted 05-10-2011 08:34 PM

Thank you, Chip, and everyone else for responding. It looks like my bacon is saved… I rubbed the piece down with white synthetic steel wool and let it cure for another day. That eliminated the tackiness and high sheen. After it was fully dry, I brushed on a coat of Waterlox Satin… which was just the sheen I was looking for.

I’ll put up pictures by the end of the week (it’s a wall clock, by the way).



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