Wipe on poly question

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Forum topic by chrisstef posted 05-20-2011 01:45 AM 2947 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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17385 posts in 3004 days

05-20-2011 01:45 AM

Here’s the gig … and ill give you the fundementals to start:

Project: Entry bench
Lumber: Cypress
Sanded: 120 Grit
Finsh: General Finishes medium brown dye stain, applied with a rag 2 Coats Wipe on poly, clear gloss First coat lightly sanded w/ 220

So im day 4 into wipe on poly. First coat applied with a rag and sanded to 220. Second coat applied with a rag. Here’s my problem. I feel like the poly its gettin asborbed awfully quick and leaving no sheen behind after the second coat. Do i just keep applying coats? Should i have put down a base coat of dewaxed shellac? Should i put down a coat of dewaxed shellac now and more poly?

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

16 replies so far

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2688 days

#1 posted 05-20-2011 03:25 AM

Next time sand the wood to 180 before finishing which seems to help these porous woods soak up less finish. I know a lot of people use 220 between coats but I feel like it takes off too much finish so I never go any coarser than 400 between coats. I use Norton 3x sandpaper which seems to remove stock or finish more quickly than cheaper paper. You might try mixing your wipe on a little thicker: 3 parts spar or poly to 1 part mineral spirits. This will allow you to build up finish more quickly. Be patient and keep wiping. My last Jatoba coffee table has 20 coats wiped on [10 Spar then 10 poly].

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3671 days

#2 posted 05-20-2011 03:26 AM

I would sand up to 220 girt sandpaper before finishing.

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 2691 days

#3 posted 05-20-2011 04:32 AM

Ditto. I usually go 180-220 for any dyes or oils, then after that, go with 400 and 800 for 8 or so coats.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3743 days

#4 posted 05-20-2011 01:48 PM

Remember that you’re wiping most of the finish off after each application. Keep at it and it will start to build a shine. I agree with the others on sanding to a finer grit. I use water based dyes and they will color the wood even if you sand to 400 to start with.

View Earlextech's profile


1161 posts in 2689 days

#5 posted 05-20-2011 02:13 PM

I would have sanded to 320 when using waterbase, which I have for 25 years, then sealed with dewaxed shellac, then stained by spraying and excess removed with clean rag, then at least 3 to 4 top coats sanded to 400 in between.

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

View Dchip's profile


271 posts in 3250 days

#6 posted 05-20-2011 02:14 PM

Dewaxed shellac (as you mention) is also a viable option for building a finish since it dries so fast, you can get many coats on in a shorter period. A couple coats of poly on top should give you all the protection of poly as well. I personally have become a big fan of the spray shellac, though I mostly make smaller projects.

-- Dan Chiappetta, NYC,

View chrisstef's profile


17385 posts in 3004 days

#7 posted 05-20-2011 02:32 PM

Thanks for all the info everyone. When i did my test pieces, the piece that i had sanded to 180 grit came out very blothcy, the one at 220 was even more blotchy, while the one sanded with 120 came out really nice so i just let it be. My assumption was that being only sanded to 120 was causing the poly to get soaked in but i wanted to make sure.

Ill continue to wipe on coats of poly and sand with a finer grit. Patience, patience, patience … im still workin on that one. Thanks again gang.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 3142 days

#8 posted 05-20-2011 02:41 PM

chrisstef, I’m somewhat new to the wipe on poly, but what I have been doing is brushing on full strength poly for the first coat, to build up the finish, then sand to 220, then start the wipe on (50/50) for as many coats as it takes.

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View chrisstef's profile


17385 posts in 3004 days

#9 posted 05-20-2011 02:49 PM

nailbanger .. that sounds like a good idea, kind of in line with the one i had about using a coat of dewaxed shellac first. I dont think that i have sealed the dye stain in yet with the poly but im sure that ill get there eventually. This is always the tough part for me .. i want to get it finished because im dying to see what it looks like all put together, the anticipation is killing me. Deep breaths …..

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4216 days

#10 posted 05-20-2011 03:27 PM

nailbanger has the right idea. I like to use a foam brush for the first couple of coats because they do tend to soak in very quickly.

I don’t think your sanding grit was an issue in the first place, unless you are trying ultimately for a mirror finish. You’re just experiencing the normal characteristics of wipe-on poly. Because it is thin, it requires many coats. Six or eight is not unusual to achieve a nice sheen. The good news is that wiping on a coat is very fast and easy compared to brushing where you have to be careful of drips and runs.

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

View chrisstef's profile


17385 posts in 3004 days

#11 posted 05-20-2011 06:39 PM

Charlie, not looking for a mirror finish more like a bit of a shine. I mean so far the stained pieces look great and they look even better with the poly on top when wet. As soon as it dries it goes back to being dull again. I will definately take the advice of brushing the first coat or 2 on making sure i sand out any drips or runs and then move on to wiping. I guess it will just take a little more time. I feel like finishing is always the most difficult part of any project.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4216 days

#12 posted 05-20-2011 06:51 PM

It’s hard to be patient, but it almost always takes a lot longer for me to finish a project than it does to build it.

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

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2078 posts in 2638 days

#13 posted 05-20-2011 07:06 PM

nailbanger hit the nail on the head ! (pun intended)

Yes, Go with the Minwax quick drying regular full bodied poly to fill and seal, then sand and coast into a great finish with the wipe on.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3016 days

#14 posted 05-20-2011 07:17 PM

Cypress, like most softwoods, will absorb a LOT of poly on the first coat and I tend to keep putting it on as long as it is still absorbing then I leave it to dry 24 hours minimum for the first coat. Subsequent coats will dry faster and I sometimes put 3 to 4 coats a day depending on what else I’m doing. I usually sand my vases and bowls to 320 and once in a while depending on the piece I’ll go finer. I have put on 30 coats on some pieces but the average is 8 to 12 coats. None of my pieces with wipe on poly has less than 8 coats! With spray ons that is another story.

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2775 days

#15 posted 05-20-2011 07:28 PM

If the wood is soft or porous, I use full strength poly for the first coat – brush it on. After 2 days to dry, sand with 220 to a smooth finish. After that I use a 2 to 1 mix of poly to mineral spirits mix. Use 600 wet dry sandpaper to sand using mineral spirits as the wetting agent. 2-3 coats later, use 4x pumice and then rottenstone to finish, followed by a good wax.

-- David in Damascus, MD

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