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Wipe-on finish (poly)

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Forum topic by Redvan posted 10-20-2018 04:20 PM 798 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Redvan

13 posts in 223 days


10-20-2018 04:20 PM

Topic tags/keywords: poly application

Hi,
I have always had trouble finishing what I create even when following finish product instructions to the letter. I never get the smooth, glass like finish I want. So, I have come to live with natural wood (stained with issues but not finished) projects.

After asking around at home centers, I have found that following the instructions and using what they recommend to apply this or that isn’t always the best practice. So, I’ve tossed away the brushes and started using a clean rag to apply stains with much better results than before when using a nb or foam brush and this got me thinking….

Could I apply poly with a cloth rather than a nb or foam brush to avoid the brush marks, runs and dribbles?

Mike.


27 replies so far

View jmos's profile

jmos

894 posts in 2547 days


#1 posted 10-20-2018 04:36 PM

Yes, you can certainly apply a wipe-on poly with a rag. I’ve done it many times. Works great. This should be done with a wipe-on poly, rather than straight from the can. You can make your own wipe-on by diluting the ply from the can with mineral spirits (for an oil based poly of course.)

As far as getting that killer smooth finish, look up ‘rubbing out a finish.’ You need to finish the finish by using abrasives to take off some of the finish you just applied, making it completely smooth, level, and with a uniform sheen. You can rub out to any sheen you like. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a finish off the brush, or rag, that is better than a finish that is rubber out. I don’t spray, so maybe that can get there; I’m not sure. A french polish incorporates the abrasive in the process.

Charles Neil has some great Youtube videos.

Not saying you have to rub out your finish. Many are acceptable off the brush, or rag, especially if you do some sanding before the final coat. All depends on what you are looking for.

-- John

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WoodenDreams

211 posts in 88 days


#2 posted 10-20-2018 04:45 PM

jmos has good advise. We rub in the stain and brush on 4 coats of poly in our work, sanding between coats.

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diverlloyd

3185 posts in 2035 days


#3 posted 10-20-2018 04:47 PM

I use rags just remember not to throw the rags away until they are dry, you don’t want a shop fire.I lay mine flat out side over night before tossing them out.

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bilyo

396 posts in 1280 days


#4 posted 10-20-2018 05:26 PM

One of my favorite finishes is a mix of 1 part BLO, one part MS, and one part Poly (oil based). I use a folded piece of blue towel to apply it. Or, I may rub it in with wet/dry sandpaper. The latter works up a bit of slurry that will tend to fill pores and minor imperfections. Wipe off excess before it sets up. Let it dry 24 hours or so and repeat. Decrease the amount of BLO a bit and increase the Poly if you want it to build thickness quicker and be a bit more durable. In the end, it will not be the most durable finish, but it is easy to apply and looks great. Rubbing the final coat with 600 grit wet/dry and then a coat of paste wax will give a velvet smooth finish. I have some pieces with this finish that get normal use and the finish has held up nicely for many years.
As mentioned above, you can apply wipe-on poly (or thin reg poly w/50% MS) with the same blue towel (fold into a little pad and use it like a foam brush) The idea is to spread it on as thinly as you can. The down side is that you will need more coats this way. Rubbing it in w/wet-dry sandpaper is problematic because it drys too fast. But sanding between coats gives similar results. Applying this way eliminates problems with brush marks.

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Redoak49

3607 posts in 2166 days


#5 posted 10-20-2018 05:50 PM

I have two comments

—- If you are getting runs and dribbles, it is not the fault of the finish or the instructions. You are likely putting it on too heavy. Try thinner coats and some patience. I put on poly with a foam brush all the time. It takes some practice.

—I also use wipe on poly typically as a final coat or two. But, you need to put on thin coats with long strokes.

In both cases, it takes some practice and experience.

View Redvan's profile

Redvan

13 posts in 223 days


#6 posted 10-20-2018 06:39 PM

Wow, thank YOU.

But, BLO?

I wasn’t blaming anyone for the dribbles and run – clearly my fault.

So, polyurethane that says to apply with a brush of some sort is not wipable?

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MrUnix

7009 posts in 2376 days


#7 posted 10-20-2018 06:46 PM

I gave up fighting runs, brush marks, dribbles, dust and other problems with Poly years ago – and now just do wipe-on, which I consider a super easy, near fool-proof finish. Made from 50/50 mix of gloss poly and mineral spirits, applied with cut up old t-shirts.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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Rich

3766 posts in 767 days


#8 posted 10-20-2018 06:55 PM


Wow, thank YOU.

But, BLO?

I wasn t blaming anyone for the dribbles and run – clearly my fault.

So, polyurethane that says to apply with a brush of some sort is not wipable?

- Redvan

That was covered as well by billyo. He said to thin regular poly 50/50 with mineral spirits to make a wiping finish. Actually, given that most of the mineral spirits you buy these days is “low odor” and the main solvents you’d want in there have been removed to appease the VOC police, I’d recommend thinning with paint thinner or turpentine instead. That’s also assuming it’s oil based poly.

When you add the BLO, you’re making a home made oil/varnish blend. It’s everyone’s uncle’s secret finish formula that he told no one but them and made them promise to never share the secret.

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

View bilyo's profile

bilyo

396 posts in 1280 days


#9 posted 10-20-2018 07:28 PM

Wow, thank YOU.

But, BLO?

I wasn t blaming anyone for the dribbles and run – clearly my fault.

So, polyurethane that says to apply with a brush of some sort is not wipable?

- Redvan

That was covered as well by billyo. He said to thin regular poly 50/50 with mineral spirits to make a wiping finish. Actually, given that most of the mineral spirits you buy these days is “low odor” and the main solvents you d want in there have been removed to appease the VOC police, I d recommend thinning with paint thinner or turpentine instead. That s also assuming it s oil based poly.

When you add the BLO, you re making a home made oil/varnish blend. It s everyone s uncle s secret finish formula that he told no one but them and made them promise to never share the secret.

- Rich


Yes. The BLO makes the mix flow smoothly and dry more slowly so that you can apply it thinly and work it some with the wet/dry sandpaper. You can substitute tung oil for the BLO if you want a lighter color. I also like to substitued turpentine for MS because I like the smell better. You can also add a very small amount of japan dryer if you want the whole thing to dry faster (not too much. Follow directions)

From my experience, I think you are asking for trouble trying to wipe regular poly straight from the can.

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Redoak49

3607 posts in 2166 days


#10 posted 10-20-2018 08:37 PM

I tried mixing my own own and came up with a super secret formula that is perfect. But it was a pain in the back side to find “real” mineral spirits. So, I just use Minwax wiping poly. It is almost as good as my secret version. The only problem with my secret version is that it does not work on Alder.

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AlaskaGuy

4660 posts in 2487 days


#11 posted 10-20-2018 09:02 PM



I tried mixing my own own and came up with a super secret formula that is perfect. But it was a pain in the back side to find “real” mineral spirits. So, I just use Minwax wiping poly. It is almost as good as my secret version. The only problem with my secret version is that it does not work on Alder.

- Redoak49


Alder wood needs no finish. Don’t mess with mother nature

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Redvan's profile

Redvan

13 posts in 223 days


#12 posted 10-20-2018 09:13 PM

Ok,
lets try that again… What is BLO?

View lumbering_on's profile

lumbering_on

567 posts in 667 days


#13 posted 10-20-2018 09:18 PM



Ok,
lets try that again… What is BLO?

- Redvan

Boiled Linseed Oil.

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Redvan

13 posts in 223 days


#14 posted 10-20-2018 10:03 PM

Thank you.

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10989 posts in 3606 days


#15 posted 10-21-2018 01:06 AM

Watco and poly, 50/50 first coat. Applied with cloth or blue paper shop towels. Increase the poly by approximately 1/3 for second coat and each succeeding application. When fully cured, rub down with Liberon 0000 and Johnson’s Paste Wax. Then buff.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

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