Can I use a tanning bed to speed up finishing time?

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Forum topic by Martin Farley posted 11-03-2013 06:37 PM 1645 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Martin Farley

17 posts in 2090 days

11-03-2013 06:37 PM

The house we moved into has an old tanning bed that was made in 1989. I’m wondering if I can use it to speed up the drying time on finishing; like polyurethane or gel stains. If so, what would be the best way to set it up?

15 replies so far

View Manitario's profile (online now)


2653 posts in 3058 days

#1 posted 11-03-2013 06:50 PM

it’s heat, not light that finishes rely on to “cure”; most finishes need some sort of evaporative process to remove the solvent. UV light exposure causes aging/weathering/fading and finish degradation which is what most of us are trying to avoid by finishing our projects!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View bondogaposis's profile


5055 posts in 2526 days

#2 posted 11-03-2013 08:01 PM

Sounds like a really good way to ruin your finish in a hurry. Most finishes attempt to protect wood from UV rays. I bet a tanning bed would really bypass that and directly damage the wood. On the other hand if you wanted to distress a finish to make it look old there might be an application. It would take some serious experimentation, to get the right look w/ different finishes.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View JoeinGa's profile


7739 posts in 2182 days

#3 posted 11-03-2013 08:07 PM

Short answer is “NO” it probably would do more harm than good.

The “OTHER” answer is you can work on a really KILLER TAN while your project is drying! :-)

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

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Bill White

5105 posts in 4135 days

#4 posted 11-03-2013 08:54 PM

Beside all the above, you’ll give your project skin cancer.


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Monte Pittman

29973 posts in 2513 days

#5 posted 11-03-2013 09:07 PM

I wouldn’t chance it. Doesn’t sound like even drying. Start another project while it’s drying.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View FaTToaD's profile


394 posts in 3316 days

#6 posted 11-03-2013 09:24 PM

Some woods, like cherry, develop a natural patina with exposure to sunlight. I wonder if you could use the UV lights from the tanning bed naturally darken cherry, redwood, and possibly other woods PRIOR to finishing them. May be worth throwing a few boards in there to see what happens.

-- David

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1251 posts in 1888 days

#7 posted 11-03-2013 09:28 PM

Perhaps useable if you are using stuff like this:

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View Loco's profile


210 posts in 1924 days

#8 posted 11-03-2013 09:33 PM

While it’s tanning grab the wifeys curling iron. They work awesome for evaporating paint thinner out of a freshly cleaned brush. I won’t even clue you as to the abilities of a blender or dough mixer….especially gear reduction models from Kitchen Aide.

-- What day is it ? No matter. Ummmm What month is it ? No moron. I paid for a 2 x 6. That means Two inches by six inches. I want the rest of my wood.

View Martin Farley's profile

Martin Farley

17 posts in 2090 days

#9 posted 11-03-2013 11:39 PM

Thanks alot for your replies and advice. I was having a bit of a brain fart when I asked this question. Thinking that the tanning bed was putting out as much heat as it was light. The situation I’m in that brought up this question was that the weather is getting colder and I have a ton of projects to urethane and stain before Christmas and I’m trying to figure out a fast way to get my work to dry. I’ve set up my garage pretty decently for a workshop but it can be a trick to keep it warm in the winter time with my kerosene heater and worry about the possibility of a flash flame from the fumes.

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2285 days

#10 posted 11-03-2013 11:42 PM

It would probably darken cherry, though…

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404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3144 days

#11 posted 11-03-2013 11:53 PM

Some industrial lacquers are UV curable but I don’t think it will work for off the shelf products. A small fan heater might suit you better though not pointed directly at your piece.

View BalloonGuy's profile


93 posts in 2098 days

#12 posted 11-04-2013 01:19 AM

Martin, I was having trouble getting my finishes to dry in the garage workshop. Lacquer that ought to have been ready for another coat in 1 hour was still tacky after 3. I set up a small fan in one corner and got it to create some circulation (no added heat). Viola! Cure time back down to what the label said it ought to be. A little air movement might be what you need.

-- Tom Peterson, Omaha, NE

View alohafromberkeley's profile


257 posts in 2579 days

#13 posted 11-04-2013 01:26 AM

Don’t know if it’ll work, but I’d be afraid my work would look like George Hamilton!

-- "After a year of doing general farmwork, it was quite clear to me that chickens and I were not compatible"-George Nakashima

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


5598 posts in 2584 days

#14 posted 11-04-2013 03:30 AM

NO, and your wife/ girlfriend / significant other might be upset you re-purposed such devices. (laughing)

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View bobasaurus's profile


3539 posts in 3359 days

#15 posted 11-04-2013 03:36 AM

I wonder if you could tape down masking patterns to UV-sensitive wood then use the tanning bed to darken the rest. You could make leaf patterns in padauk or something… might look neat.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

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