wipe on poly

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by awlee posted 02-18-2012 12:02 AM 5161 views 1 time favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View awlee's profile


23 posts in 2527 days

02-18-2012 12:02 AM

Can I make my own wipe-on poly by diluting regular poly (e.g. Minwax or other brush-on stuff you can get in gallons from the box stores) with mineral oil or some other solvent? If so, what would be a good rule of thumb for proportions? And the same for water-based finishes, can I add some water to create a wipe-on potion? How would these affect the “gloss” or “satin” qualities of the finishes? Any wisdom—and also stories or experiences—is greatly appreciated. Thanks much.

6 replies so far

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1570 posts in 3770 days

#1 posted 02-18-2012 12:16 AM

1/3 poly, 1/3 boiled linseed oil, 1/3 mineral spirits works great. You can use less mineral spirits to make it a little thicker mix. Not sure about the water based finishes.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View Fuzzy's profile


298 posts in 4194 days

#2 posted 02-18-2012 02:52 AM

I use a lot of WATERLOX and McCloskey’s varnish … I like to thin the first few coats about 70% VM&P Naptha to 30% finish … slop it on and keep it wet for a while, then wipe it back … soaks in and seals the pores … after that, I use a mixture of about 50%-60% Naptha and apply it with a lint free rag … I can’t remember the last time I picked up one of those $50-$60 fancy brushes … just don’t need them any more.

Water based is a different game altogether … on the rare occasion that I do use it, I thin it (probably more than I should) with a product called FLOETROL … I won’t even tell you what the ratio is that I use ‘cause it’s certainly NOT recommended by the manufacturer(s), but so far, so good.

Linseed oil is one component of finishing that I simply have no use for … it never completely dries or cures, and I don’t see where it does anything for the appearance of a project that I can’t accomplish in a more sane & predictable manner. Look into Charles Neil’s Blotch Control and learn to use dyes instead of stains … you will be a much better finisher if you’ll take that one piece of advice and run with it.

-- - dabbling in sarcasm is foolish … if you’re not proficient at it, you end up looking stupid … ... ...

View bobsmyuncle's profile


110 posts in 2896 days

#3 posted 02-18-2012 03:05 AM

1/3 each BLO, varnish, and mineral spirits makes what is called an oil-varnish blend. This is canned as a variety of names such as Danish Oil, Teak Oil, <acme>oil, and even Tung Oil Finish. Though some brands such as Watco can be 6/9 mineral spirits, 2/9 BLO and 1/9 varnish. So this is a much more oil-heavy and dilute version

If you want a wiping varnish, dilute about 50-50 with mineral spirits. You can wipe on coats but you will need 2-3 times as many as brushed on, but you can wipe on three coats in a day,once the varnish is no longer sticky. Then dry overnight, scuff sand, and repeat the 3x.

You can’t just dilute water-based willy-nilly, in my opinion, though I have seen it suggested. Modern w/b finishes might have a dozen or more components in a carefully balanced formula. Just dumping in a bunch of water is going to upset that.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4424 days

#4 posted 02-18-2012 03:12 AM

A simple formula for wipe on poly is just to mix regular poly 50/50 with mineral spirits. More coats will be required, of course, but the gloss level will be unchanged.

This works great with oil based, but personally, I have not had much success trying to thin water-based poly to wipe it on.

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

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1570 posts in 3770 days

#5 posted 02-18-2012 05:43 PM

Here is a must have link also:

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View awlee's profile


23 posts in 2527 days

#6 posted 02-22-2012 12:36 AM

Thanks, all, this is very helpful.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics