Help choosing a wipe on finish

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Forum topic by Brad_Nailor posted 01-13-2009 02:04 AM 2771 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Brad_Nailor's profile


2539 posts in 3952 days

01-13-2009 02:04 AM

Hey everybody

I am doing a simple project thats basically a walnut picture frame. I want to complete this quickly so I don’t have time for my usual finish of choice (multiple coats of lacquer). I was thinking that an all in one wipe on finish might be just the trick but I have never used one so I know nothing about them. Could somebody that has used these finishes maybe point me in the right direction as to use and what type to try. Also temperature is a factor I live in New England and its pretty chilly in my garage shop. Help! I didn’t want to stain the piece…just looking for the wipe on equivalent to a semi gloss lacquer finish.


7 replies so far

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3933 days

#1 posted 01-13-2009 02:21 AM

I use MinWax Wipe-On Poly satin finish. The wipe-on finish is thin, so it takes a few coats to build up anything worthwhile and, in my experience, you’ll want to wait 8+ hours between coats. I typically seal with shellac and then do 3-4 coats of poly which gives me the finish I like. But, that process is over the course of 3 days.

-- Working at Woodworking

View sry's profile


147 posts in 3602 days

#2 posted 01-13-2009 02:36 AM

I like to do pretty much the same thing as Russel. I bought some full strength poly and thin some (about 1:1 mix w/mineral spirits) to a wiping consistency when I need it. Works great, although it does take several coats. If speed is an issue, you could also try a spray can of poly. Much more expensive per volume of finish, but very convenient.

Temperature would be a problem though. Can you do your finishing in the basement maybe?

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3781 days

#3 posted 01-13-2009 02:45 AM

Rattle can spray shellac will be your quickest, with spray lacquer being 2nd. I have used BullsEye spray shellac and Deft Semi-gloss Clear Wood Finish (lacquer) at 50 degrees with no blushing and good drying time at 50 degrees as long as the humidity is low.Drying time is about 15 mins between the first couple coats, and gets a bit longer as it builds up. For a picture frame, both should work, but the deft has a much better spray nozzle pattern (fan pattern). Put on thin coats to reduce the hazard of blushing (moisture trapped in the coating due to condensation of the ambient humidity as the spray expands out of the gun/can giving a milky look). Put on just enough to evenly wet the surface with each coat.

Any oil or oxidizing coating (varnish, boiled linseed oil, “teak” oil, etc) will need at least overnight drying between coats in a cold room. Most wipe-on finishes are a mix of oil and/or varnish/polyurethane, and all cure by oxidation (they get tack free by evaporation but do not harden until after the oxidation occurs). You cannot rub, sand, etc until they are at least partially cured. The lower the temp, the longer the drying/curing time. Mnfgrs usually state the drying time based on 70 degrees/50% humidity. Double or triple that for 15 degrees less, and cut in half for 15 degrees more.



-- Go

View Brad_Nailor's profile


2539 posts in 3952 days

#4 posted 01-13-2009 02:56 AM

I am very familiar with Deft laquer…that is my usual finish of choice. The problem is it’s toxic fumes..I can get it up to 50 degrees in the garage but then I have to open the door for air circulation and it will be whatever the temp is outside within minutes. Thats why I wanted to try some kind of water based wipe on…no fumes no spray and quick drying times..or at least thats what I had hoped for! Thanks for your input guys!


View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4213 days

#5 posted 01-13-2009 03:00 AM

David, have you ever tried Watco Danish Oil? It’ll give you a nice looking finish with one application, and your project will be ready to use the next day.

I’ve used brush-on water-based poly with some success, but never tried wiping it.

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

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3816 days

#6 posted 01-13-2009 03:21 AM

David, I will second the shellac suggestion. The only thing that comes off is alcohol, which has very little odor, and it will evaporate rapidly even at 50 degrees. You can apply several coats in a days time and the finish will protect the wood as well as coming out a nice gloss, which you can tone down by rubbing with 0000 steel wool to a satin finish if you want.

The water based poly will be a challenge to dry because of the temperature. Its recommended drying time is 24 hours between 60 and 80 degrees so at 50 degrees its drying time will be extended.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3762 days

#7 posted 01-13-2009 03:25 AM

spray shellac is probably your best bet. you need about 5 coats but that can be done in a few hours with shellac.

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