Watco Oil and Polyurethane Mystery

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Forum topic by fredj posted 06-28-2013 07:31 AM 1536 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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186 posts in 1844 days

06-28-2013 07:31 AM

For many years one of my favorite finishes for interior tables has been a coat or two of Watco Oil, then after 3 or 4 days of drying (Watco recommends 72 hours before any surface coat) another coat or two clear satin polyurethane. High gloss spar varnish if for outdoor use. Never had any problems with this and have pieces I made more than 20 years ago that are still looking great. But here’s my current problem. I made a table/bench out of some red oak left over from another table I made. I put one coat of Watco on it and let it dry for four days, then put one coat of poly on the underside and legs. The legs were dry overnight, however the underside is still tacky after more than 48 hours. Everything was sanded the same and done at the same time, same brush, same can of poly. Never had this happen before. Any ideas out there as to why ?

-- Fredj

2 replies so far

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Kaleb the Swede

1835 posts in 1996 days

#1 posted 06-28-2013 11:12 AM

Hi there Fred. I happen to love Watco Oil and have used it on many of my projects. Red oak is very tight grained and if you flood the surface with the oil it tends to stay that way. If you don’t wipe it back it will take forever to dry, and if you are in an area that has very high humidity like me in South Jersey with a bay on one side and an ocean on the other, it can be murder. I have even had it where after about a week even I had oil come to the surface even if I did wipe it back. Oak behaves that way for me. It just takes time for it to soak in. What I usually do is flood the surface, wipe it back, and then repeat the process for however many coats you want. Just give it a few more days. Hope this helps, there are some other guys with a ton more experience than I have however so hopefully they chime in. Hope this helps

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View fredj's profile


186 posts in 1844 days

#2 posted 06-28-2013 03:22 PM

Thanks Kaleb, I think I know what happened. The table/bench is very heavy, when I oiled it I had it upright, and upright when I wiped it down. Lot of work to flip it over. I think I just didn’t get it wiped down well enough on the underside, which if true is why the poly there didn’t dry overnight like that on the legs. The wood in the legs is salvaged white oak (tighter grain than red oak) and likely air dried. The top is from some highly figured kiln dried red oak I bought more than 20 years ago. Made a table from most of that, finished it the same way with no problems.

-- Fredj

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