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Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish - Streaking and Grainy

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Forum topic by Riggy posted 10-05-2018 01:44 PM 2121 views 0 times favorited 56 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Riggy

37 posts in 82 days


10-05-2018 01:44 PM

Hi Everyone,

My first foray into Waterlox territory has come out less than preferable. I’m sealing some butcher block slabs and although indirectly and not under overhead light the sheen looks very nice, the wood itself feels very grainy and shows some streaks and strokes, and a little bit of pooling here and there. Per instructions and some reading I’ve simply applied in a modest fashion with a foam brush, and waited around 24 hours to dry for each coat. I could have inadvertantly put the finish on too thick, or perhaps not given it enough time to dry to a perfect hard shell before the next coat, but I’m not sure which. The graininess may or may not be the waterlox, as I raised the grain and sanded on the wood 4-5 times while staining it.

I’ve just finished my third coat. I gave it around 48 hours to dry and it is perfectly hard now. A few things that might have contributed to this:

1) It’s fall here in Western NY and though I’ve had cross ventilation and my home pegged at 69-70 degrees, the cure time might have been stretched due to the temp.

2) Due to the above, 24 hours may not have been enough to get a fully hardened shell before coating. Not sure if this was required as a signal to coat and move on to the next step, but I may have coated over a less than dry substrate.

Now my question is, from here, in order to salvage a respectable finish, would it make sense to very lightly sand with say a 220 grit, vacuum the dust and wipe down with mineral spirits, and then a light coat, followed by say a 320 sanding block and one last very light coat? Should I change the application medium at this point to something else? A wipe? Lambswool pad?

Using this as a guide here, for reference:

https://antiquetrunksandchests.com/how-to-apply-waterlox-original-2014/

Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks!


56 replies so far

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OSU55

1866 posts in 2135 days


#1 posted 10-05-2018 08:05 PM

I would wet sand with 320-400 with ms, wipe down, recoat. Easy does it, dont want to sand thru a layer and have ghost lines. Coating method is whatever you can do the best with – wipe on cloth, lambswool, brush. How thick of a film do you want?

View Kirk650's profile

Kirk650

566 posts in 894 days


#2 posted 10-06-2018 12:47 AM

I had some streaky Waterlox finishes when I used Waterlox satin. I believe my problem was not stirring enough and then letting it skin over in the can. Started using Bloxygen when I bought a new can to prevent the skinning over. Last finish looked much better. Probably it would be best to use the gloss rather than the satin, then rub it out to the degree you like.

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TungOil

1034 posts in 641 days


#3 posted 10-06-2018 12:53 AM

I use Waterlox frequently. Assuming you are using Original Sealer/Finish, I have found that 6 wiped coats is a minimum. I always apply it with a folded cheesecloth pad, each coat should be very thin. I allow 24 hours between coats and scuff sand with 320 between coats.

BTW- Waterlox recommends that you always build the finish with Original, then final coat with satin or gloss if you wish to change the sheen. Only Original isa a sealer.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

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Riggy

37 posts in 82 days


#4 posted 10-06-2018 03:35 AM



I would wet sand with 320-400 with ms, wipe down, recoat. Easy does it, dont want to sand thru a layer and have ghost lines. Coating method is whatever you can do the best with – wipe on cloth, lambswool, brush. How thick of a film do you want?

- OSU55

Ok so I dry sanded with 320 wrapped around a sanding block. I may have gone a bit too much as there are some cloudy areas now. The reason being, sanding didn’t really seem to do much impact to the streaks and such, so I gave it a bit of elbow grease to try and bring it down to a common level…... I’ll attach some pics to show everyone the kind of streaks I’m working with. Some pooling too. These are counter tops so I don’t really care about coat thickness per se, as long as its protective and nice and smooth. Smooth thing I’m hoping to figure out… perhaps I should just lightly orbital with 220 and bring it back down a bit and put a few more coats on?

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Riggy

37 posts in 82 days


#5 posted 10-06-2018 03:44 AM



I use Waterlox frequently. Assuming you are using Original Sealer/Finish, I have found that 6 wiped coats is a minimum. I always apply it with a folded cheesecloth pad, each coat should be very thin. I allow 24 hours between coats and scuff sand with 320 between coats.

BTW- Waterlox recommends that you always build the finish with Original, then final coat with satin or gloss if you wish to change the sheen. Only Original isa a sealer.

- TungOil

Got it. Helpful, thanks! Have you ever had to troubleshoot pooling or streaking? How much should be sanded off between coats? Enough to cause skin and flaking? I’m wondering if I just need to keep throwing some coats on as opposed to over sanding.

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Riggy

37 posts in 82 days


#6 posted 10-06-2018 03:54 AM

Here’s what I’m working with guys. Some more streaky, some slightly pooling. I sanded by hand with 320 dry and it didn’t seem to do much other than create some hazy spots and leave vague traces of the streaks that don’t seem to have gone anywhere. Hope I didn’t screw this one up.

View Rich's profile (online now)

Rich

3661 posts in 735 days


#7 posted 10-06-2018 04:08 AM

You’ve got some serious contamination. Waterlox should not fisheye like that. It looks like you used something before the Waterlox that contained silicone or something similar that caused the surface tension to decrease in areas that resulted in the finish flowing out unevenly. The “pooling” you refer to isn’t due to your application method, it’s due to something on the surface.

The descriptions have been sketchy which makes it difficult to help. For example, when you say it’s grainy, I don’t know if that means you have some nibs, or if something worse has gotten into the finish.

Also, if you sand with 320, wet or dry, you will get dull areas and shiny ones. Waterlox Original has a pretty high sheen. When you sand it, you are dulling it where the sanding is happening. The shiny areas are shallow spots that the paper didn’t reach. In general, once you’ve built a good film, you want to wet sand with soapy water (1 part dishwashing liquid to 6 or more parts water) until the surface is evenly dull. That means you’ve leveled the surface. Remember to only do this once you have a good film or you’ll run the risk of sanding through. Also, be very careful around the edges. If you’re hand sanding, go short strokes at the edge and long in between. If you’re using a ROS don’t go over the edge by more than an inch or so and don’t let the sander roll over the edge.

After you have it evenly dull and haven’t sanded through, you can take it to any sheen you want. The options are varied. Pumice 4F, 0000 steel wool, sanding are all options. I like taking it to about 2000 grit wet sanding with the soapy water. If you want a higher sheen, go up to 3000 or 4000.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View TungOil's profile

TungOil

1034 posts in 641 days


#8 posted 10-06-2018 03:15 PM

You are applying it way to heavy. I’d suggest sanding it back w/220 until you get everything level, then start over using the cheesecloth method I mention above. Very light, wiped coats are best, then let cure 24 hrs between coats. Be sure you are using original sealer/Finish. Lightly scuff sand w/ 320 between coats just to de-nib. First several coats will look terrible and uneven, but stick with it by the 3rd or 4th coat it will start to even out.

Edit: Also, be sure you have fresh finish- the Waterlox tech folks told me no older than 1 year.

BTW- the finish schedule I outlined above came directly from a discussion I had with Jeff Jewett about 15 years ago. Waterlox is one of his preferred, go-to finishes. I’ve been using it ever since with great results, but you must have patience with it.

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View Gerald Thompson's profile

Gerald Thompson

1091 posts in 2381 days


#9 posted 10-06-2018 05:16 PM

TungOil; Does the one year use by apply to unopened cans too for WaterLox?

-- Jerry

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Riggy

37 posts in 82 days


#10 posted 10-06-2018 06:21 PM

Ok so I’m a bit confused here guys…. sounds like it could be contaminated substrate and sounds like it was my application method. I’m trying to figure out a concrete plan of attack here so help me work through this:

1) Sand back down to a reasonable level surface but not bare wood. Will this sort of look gray and scuffy? After sanding to a level spot it won’t look very goood right? Is light orbital at 220 too much here or should this all be done by hand? I felt that when I hand sanded it, it didn’t particularly do much to knock it down.

2) Very light wipe on coats with cheese cloth

3) Wet Sand (or dry?) between coats with 320 to remove anything pertruding as a nib

4) 6-7 light wipe coats total, patience and many light coats

View Rich's profile (online now)

Rich

3661 posts in 735 days


#11 posted 10-06-2018 06:22 PM

Here is a video from Tom Johnson Antique Restoration of him restoring an antique gateleg table. His nightmare begins at around the 10 minute mark. What you will see is Waterlox (which he uses extensively) behaving precisely as yours is due to surface contamination. The lower right corner of your first photo shows clearly how his finish issues mirror yours.

What you will see in the video is that if the contamination is severe, then sanding and re-coating will only result in the same problems continuing. Hopefully that’s not the case, but his videos are among the best and you can see the problems he runs into and how he ultimately deals with them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79GkFgf_jIo&t=695s

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View TungOil's profile

TungOil

1034 posts in 641 days


#12 posted 10-06-2018 06:32 PM



TungOil; Does the one year use by apply to unopened cans too for WaterLox?

- Gerald Thompson


That was their advice for unopened cans, opened cans they claimed less.

I think they were being cautious however, I have used opened Waterlox that has been around for several years on shop projects without issues. I would buy fresh finish for any important pieces. The point is to be sure it’s fresh when you buy it.

Riggy- were these tops new/unfinished, or previously finished?

-- The optimist says "the glass is half full". The pessimist says "the glass is half empty". The engineer says "the glass is twice as big as it needs to be"

View Riggy's profile

Riggy

37 posts in 82 days


#13 posted 10-06-2018 06:33 PM



Here is a video from Tom Johnson Antique Restoration of him restoring an antique gateleg table. His nightmare begins at around the 10 minute mark. What you will see is Waterlox (which he uses extensively) behaving precisely as yours is due to surface contamination. The lower right corner of your first photo shows clearly how his finish issues mirror yours.

What you will see in the video is that if the contamination is severe, then sanding and re-coating will only result in the same problems continuing. Hopefully that s not the case, but his videos are among the best and you can see the problems he runs into and how he ultimately deals with them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79GkFgf_jIo&t=695s

- Rich

Great video definitely a similiar vibe. All I can say, however, is that those fisheye portions that you noted in the pictures are actually moreso the minority here and are just a vew spots versus the majority which just seems to be brush streaking. I’ll have to follow a similiar method here and see what I can come up wth. I thought this process would be more straightforward haha!

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Riggy

37 posts in 82 days


#14 posted 10-06-2018 06:47 PM

Do you guys know what that “wax-wash” remover is? Is that something sold in common outlets or a special order? I’m wondering if it makes sense to do the same thing: utilizing this wax wash and ammonia and water, but would hate to get in too deep with this stuff. He seems to have salvaged it though.

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Riggy

37 posts in 82 days


#15 posted 10-06-2018 06:55 PM

Ah ok got it, I’ve seen this pop up in other threads with fisheye concerns. I see the product now. I’m just wondering how it might best be utilized in this scenario given I’m already 3 coats in with waterlox. Would it make sense to sand down with 220 to a more base layer still with waterlox on and then use this product? Or would it need to be stripped back down to the bare wood?

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