The Nasty(ist) finishes ever

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Forum topic by PASs posted 12-11-2012 12:26 AM 1679 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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595 posts in 3272 days

12-11-2012 12:26 AM

Topic tags/keywords: finish bad finish varnish lacquer tung oil danish oil polyurethane shellac oil finish humor finishing

Being retired and on fixed income I find myself deciding that finishing a project is sometimes more along the lines of what I have, not what I want, to finish a project with.

As a result I have on occasion used a finish that, although appropriate for the job, was beyond it’s apparent shelf life….
like the bowl in pine that I used polyurethane on…poly that I dug out from under a 1/4 crust on the top of the container and had to mix 50/50 with paint thinner to un-gel.
Or the tung oil that took 10 seconds to start pouring out of the can I found in the back of the bottom drawer of the finish cabinet.

So with that in mind I’m curious how many of you have found yourselves in a similar predicament.

So here’s a thread to confess your finishing sins, or experiments that failed (or succeeded) in finishing.

btw…both the above projects finished well.

-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."

16 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117273 posts in 3751 days

#1 posted 12-11-2012 12:33 AM

I’ve used many finishes beyond their shelf life ,it’s always been on projects for my self. Some of them that seem to hold up well have been, oil base gel stain, wiping stain and even some water base clear finish.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3143 days

#2 posted 12-11-2012 12:55 AM

Funny this should come up now. I’m about to apply a Danish oil finish on a side table, I have a tin of DO that is at least 10 years old (I know by the label), should I go out and buy a new tin? Does DO go off?

View Ted's profile


2873 posts in 2385 days

#3 posted 12-11-2012 12:56 AM

Finishes have a shelf life? :)

I’ve used plenty of paints and finishes that should not have been usable. If I can smell the solvent, then I know it hasn’t all evaporated, and the finish should dry okay. If I have to strain debris after breaking a 1/4” thick skin off the top, then that’s what I do.

Mind you, this is only for my own personal projects. If I do something for a client, they are paying for the finish, so I would never use anything that might be questionable. As for my own projects, if I suspect a finish might have gone south, I may or may not test it first.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

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Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2535 days

#4 posted 12-11-2012 12:57 AM

I generally avoid finishes that go south, once opened. The worst in my experience is Waterlox, which I now never use, followed by oil poly. If I gotta use oil poly, I just consider whatever’s left in the can is lost, or extend its shelf life by sticking the leftover in the freezer. I stay with waterbornes, raw tung oil, and solvent lacquer, as I’ve never had an issue with them.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3332 days

#5 posted 12-11-2012 01:18 AM

I’m not in the fixed income situation, but I can promise you that I think a twice each time I buy a gallon of something like the GF Endurovar. Everything adds up, and having a finishing closet filled with everything we’d LIKE to have of products with shelf-lifes…well, my calculator would start to show an extra digit or two that I’d find somewhat shocking!

-- jay,

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3482 days

#6 posted 12-11-2012 02:09 AM

I always store finishes upside down in their container so the good stuff is at the top when i open it. I also have sealed the containers in plastic bags to further extend their life. It would not be a bad idea to test some of the old finish on a scrap piece of wood to eliminate or confirm any doubts.

View Ted's profile


2873 posts in 2385 days

#7 posted 12-11-2012 07:09 AM

One thing I do is every time I close a can of paint or finish is turn it upside down for a moment, to help assure a good seal around the lid. I don’t know if it helps, but it doesn’t hurt so why not.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5142 posts in 2667 days

#8 posted 12-11-2012 12:33 PM

A lot of folks actually store their opened and then closed cans of finish upside down. This keeps the air pocket on the bottom, and any skin that forms is there as well. I haven’t tried it (yet)but will some day. So far, I’ve went through great pains to make sure my finish is always good, the older stuff gets disposed of properly. I can’t see taking something that may have several hundred dollars worth of lumber and hours of my time and then risk saving $20 on a can of varnish (or whatever).

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3143 days

#9 posted 12-11-2012 01:54 PM

Some finishes will oxidise and turn to jelly in the tin no matter what you do. Ripping off a piece of cling film and putting that on top of the finish in the tin will help stop it going crusty.
I have an issue with Becker Acroma white waterborne enamel. The last tin I had (5L) cost about $80. First time I used it it was great, sealed it up, went back to it months later, couldn’t open the tin, rusted together. Got it open, loads of crap fallen into it, the rubber seal on the tin perished and fell into it too. Strained it, used it, put it away, went to use it again, the dye in the rubber seal had bled out of it, giving the rest of the paint a pink blush.
Had to bin it. Lesson learnt.

View PASs's profile


595 posts in 3272 days

#10 posted 12-11-2012 03:38 PM

I’m glad I got the courage up to post this question.
I’m definitely going to try the upside-down idea.

To all, If I was spending any money on wood, or if it is a commissioned piece, I always get the good finish out.
But most of my work is in re-purposed/salvaged/or otherwise free wood, so the bad finish costs me no more than the time I put into the piece…experience points at the least…and at the best, an editor's choice award.

-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3332 days

#11 posted 12-11-2012 04:39 PM

@Pete – The problem with a bad finish is that you might not know it’s bad until a year from now. I used some old Spar Varnish on a rebuilt and refinished park bench last year. In three months the varnish was flaking off. I’ll likely choose a marine varnish next time instead, but that spar varnish should have held out longer than that.

-- jay,

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 2649 days

#12 posted 12-12-2012 06:30 AM

Hey don’t feel bad, I once tried to use shellac I had stored in a metal can…..boy did that project looked like crap…..LOL.

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View Mark Kornell's profile

Mark Kornell

1169 posts in 2705 days

#13 posted 12-12-2012 06:50 AM

I have a 30 year old, half used tin of Danish oil, from an “archaeological” dig thru my dad’s shop. I’ve only used it on non-important projects, but it seems to still be viable.

-- Mark Kornell, Kornell Wood Design

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3918 days

#14 posted 12-12-2012 05:51 PM

Pete, I use Bloxygen for left over finishes. It seems to extend the life of most oil based finishes. I buy pure tung oil by the gallon and it will start to crystallize within about a month without the Bloxygen. I have a gallon that’s almost a year old and it looks and works like it did when I bought it.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3332 days

#15 posted 12-12-2012 06:04 PM

Finishes, and homebrew beer, go bad when oxidized. So if you replace the oxygen in their containers with something else, like CO2, then you’ll extend shelf life and make for better tasting beer. :)

-- jay,

showing 1 through 15 of 16 replies

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