Poly smell on interior compartments.

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Forum topic by 12strings posted 05-12-2012 01:35 PM 1279 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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434 posts in 2408 days

05-12-2012 01:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: poly smell

I have made a flip top desk and finished it with slightly thinned poly. I’m pretty sure the outer part will be fine after a while, but the inner desk part will normally be closed off by the lid.

I have had it proped open to air out for about 2 weeks now, but when I close it for a little bit the poly smell still builds up in there. It is 2 coats of 80% poly, 20% mineral spirits.

Is there anything I can do do disapate the smell? Some kind of baking soda odor absorber i can put in there for a while?

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

12 replies so far

View knotscott's profile


8056 posts in 3400 days

#1 posted 05-12-2012 02:38 PM

I’m not a “finishing” guy, but I’d guess it’s just a matter of waiting for the poly to completely cure. Leaving the compartments open in a dry area can only help. It’ll dissipate eventually.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Rick  Dennington's profile (online now)

Rick Dennington

5910 posts in 3218 days

#2 posted 05-12-2012 02:45 PM

Probably not much you can do about the smell of the poly, except wait it out… may smell for 6 months to a year…just depends…..Don’t know of anything you can do to disapate the odor…just keep it open as much as possible to help… will eventully go away…??

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3093 days

#3 posted 05-12-2012 02:50 PM

You may be smelling the mineral spirits as much (or more) than the poly. Either way, you just have to wait it out. It goes away eventually.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View riooso's profile


38 posts in 2670 days

#4 posted 05-12-2012 03:20 PM

I have been able to speed up the process by leaving things outside in the sun with a fan blowing on it. You would be amazed how rapidly things dry out on a hot sunny day with a good air flow.

View a1Jim's profile (online now)


117115 posts in 3601 days

#5 posted 05-12-2012 04:00 PM

That’s why I prefer water borne poly. I think Riooso has a good Idea as long your wood will not be affected by(change it’s color) the sun.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View killerb's profile


150 posts in 2422 days

#6 posted 05-12-2012 05:19 PM

I use thinned seal coat shellac inside drawers and cases. 2 or 3 coats and scuff it and it is wonderful. It will seal off your smell too. I use a natural brisel brush to apply. Take seal coat and thin about 1/2 with denatured alcohol. Works great and no smell. bob

-- Bob

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3672 days

#7 posted 05-12-2012 05:58 PM

It takes at least a month to come close to curing.

You might put desiccant bags in the compartments – they
may absorb the smell. And, sure, the baking soda might

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4948 posts in 3984 days

#8 posted 05-12-2012 07:49 PM

“Cure” is the operative word here. Leave it pen as best ya can. It’ll go away.


View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 2408 days

#9 posted 05-12-2012 11:06 PM

regarding leaving it outside in the sun, is there any way to predict what sun will do the color…

It is red oak wood with dark walnut stain and 2-3 coats of poly. (see my projects page for pics)

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2714 days

#10 posted 05-13-2012 02:36 AM

I would put a fan on it for several days and WOULD NOT put it out in the sun. I did this and came back a few hours later to find hundreds of bubbles in my finish!

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

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2717 days

#11 posted 05-13-2012 02:40 AM

I’ve done this before and I feel your pain. It’s going to take a while to air it out but after the wait, you’ll have a very durable interior finish. I’ve defaulted to shellac for interiors then made the same mistake with wax!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3672 days

#12 posted 05-13-2012 02:43 AM

Poly cures by oxidation, not solvent evaporation like lacquer
or shellac. That means that oxygen in the air makes the
finish molecules link together. Heat may speed the
process somewhat but mostly curing occurs through
exposure to air.

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