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Forum topic by Jarrhead posted 08-21-2014 03:59 PM 1254 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Jarrhead's profile


54 posts in 3387 days

08-21-2014 03:59 PM

Like many woodworkers, finishing has never been my favorite part of any project. I know that it is my own ignorance about the subject that gives me pause. Unfortunately, despite lots of research, I have failed to de-mystify the process. My last big project was my second Hal-Taylor rocking chair. Although I was pleased with the outcome of the chair build itself, I was disappointed with the results of the finish. The chair was built from an extraordinary slab of Claro Walnut. It has some really lovely grain figure, including a fair amount of tiger striping. I expected the finish to really make it “pop”. It looks okay, but it isn’t the quality I expected. Frankly, it looks a little cloudy and dull. I followed the directions closely on all the products I used, which included Minwax walnut stain, followed by Cystalac grain fill, then about 5 coats of Wipe-on polyurethane. I am disappointed enough in the results that I have resolved to “refinish” the chair. I am prepared to sand it back to bare wood, and start over, but do I need to do that? Is there something I can do to salvage the finish that is already on there? If I do go back to bare wood, what would be the recommended finishing process to get that eye popping look and visual depth of the grain that Sam Maloof’s chairs were always known for. I’ve got some spare wood left from this project that I could try some different methods on.

-- trn2wud

9 replies so far

View Wildwood's profile


2322 posts in 2162 days

#1 posted 08-21-2014 04:44 PM

Might just need additional coats of the product to get what you want instead of starting over. Let dry little longer and wipe hard with clean cloth. Did you use oil or waterborne wipe on poly?

Lot of commercial wipe on oil poly products require more coats because of amount of Solvent in the product. Basically wipe on Poly-Varnish should contain no more than 60% solvent. Really have to read can or MSDS ingredient list to figure it out. Oil based product easier than waterborne products finding solvents.

Homemade oil wiping poly-varnish (resins) easy to mix yourself need equal parts resin to equal amount of solvent or 50-50 mix. Two coats should equal one coat of film finish. Waterborne product cannot use a 50-50 mix, but can thin product water a little. I always pour waterborne finish into a mixing cup and have never used more than half or one ounce of water to thin waterborne product.

-- Bill

View Pezking7p's profile


3217 posts in 1679 days

#2 posted 08-21-2014 05:19 PM

Got any pictures?

You may change the surface of the finish by making it more or less glossy, or change the feel of it by waxing it, but the grain appearance likely will not change.

-- -Dan

View Hammerthumb's profile


2853 posts in 2003 days

#3 posted 08-21-2014 07:13 PM

I got this from another site about Maloof’s finish:

“It is a mixture of one-third linseed oil, one-third raw tung oil, and one-third semigloss urethane varnish. I apply it generously and then rub it off completely so there isn’t a wet spot left anywhere. I let it sit overnight and then add another coat. The process is repeated about 4 times. Then I make a batch of finish that is half linseed oil and half tung oil with some shredded beeswax mixed in. I put two coats of that finish on, and the chair’s finished, ready to be used.”

I believe that your mistake is the stain which has the tendency to muddy the grain.

Good luck.

-- Paul, Las Vegas

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2389 days

#4 posted 08-21-2014 07:47 PM

DON’T sand it; use Citristrip followed by a naphtha scrub with maroon Scotchbrite. Finish with Arm-R-Seal wipe-on gloss. Adding BLO and/or tung will not improve the finish.

-- 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 Richard's profile


1916 posts in 2718 days

#5 posted 08-21-2014 07:54 PM

I am by no means good at finishing either but almost always when I have had a really Bad finish there was Minwax involved somewhere.

View Redoak49's profile


3288 posts in 2016 days

#6 posted 08-21-2014 10:35 PM

I think that finishing takes a lot of patience and some trial and error. One should always practice with either a new wood or new finish or stain.

I know that many people are so anxious to complete a project that they tend to rush through the finishing step. One should just plan for the extra time it takes. For me, I use a lot of mineral base poly and know that it will take a day or so for the stain to dry, and then a day or so for the first coat to dry and then a day between each coat. I know that some can do it faster but it depends on your drying conditions.

View Joseph Jossem's profile

Joseph Jossem

492 posts in 2296 days

#7 posted 08-21-2014 11:49 PM

DO you have pictures.Fishing is the funniest part for me its that point as you said the grain pops out.I mean finishing my minds else where

View Paul Maurer's profile

Paul Maurer

162 posts in 1582 days

#8 posted 08-22-2014 01:52 AM

The most effective way that I have seen to make grain “pop” is by using a dye rather than (or before the) stain.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2999 days

#9 posted 08-22-2014 01:55 AM

I haven’t seen it, but when I read your finishing steps and saw, ”all the products I used, which included Minwax walnut stain”, I really did not need to look further.
For me, walnut stain is something I would use to make something else look similar to walnut.
Or, possibly applied selectively in areas to make sap wood blend in with heart wood.

I’m not too sure that you can get the true beauty back that was there before staining.
Depends on how deep the stain penetrated.

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