Removing dust nibs between coats without scratches Waterlox

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Forum topic by Wildbrookies posted 03-07-2015 10:14 PM 1751 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 599 days

03-07-2015 10:14 PM

Topic tags/keywords: waterlox dust dust nibs

Tortured! Help! You guys can relate, I’m sure… Anyways. I am using Waterlox sealer and have small dust nibs in between coats. I clean my work space, myself, etc. But some just seem inevitable. The advice I got from Waterlox was not very good. They said to lightly scuff with 0000 wool with the grain, but it makes scratches that come through when the next coat goes on. I will be now resanding for the third time trying to get this right. I have been having to go back to the bare wood to a avoud swirl markes from the orbital.

Please help if you have had luck removing these nibs between coats and have had success not scratching the finish. I have heard using a paper bag or scotch bright pad. Please tell me your experiences. Also, has anyone truly had luck sanding back Waterlox by one coat to the anomalies and then reapplying another coat with success? I have tried wet sanding with horrible results, hence me having to sand back to wood every time.

Thanks in advance!

12 replies so far

View Kazooman's profile


616 posts in 1375 days

#1 posted 03-07-2015 10:27 PM

I haven’t used Waterlox for many years, but it sounds like the finish may not be completely cured when you are trying to remove the dust. If your shop is as cool as mine in the winter it may take longer than normal for the finish to cure and achieve the desired hardness.

View pintodeluxe's profile (online now)


4827 posts in 2236 days

#2 posted 03-07-2015 10:36 PM

I have used steel wool, scotchbrite pads, dry sanding, and wet sanding. My preference is to lightly scuff sand with 300 or 500 grit soft sanding sponges between coats. It doesn’t leave visible scratches like steel wool does.
Then after the final coat dries, wet sand with a 1500 grit soft sanding sponge.
Good luck with it.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View bonesbr549's profile


1137 posts in 2490 days

#3 posted 03-08-2015 12:27 AM

Here’s what I do. I buy strait razor blades. It’s about 6 bucks for a hundred of em at lowes. It’s the kind you put in a scraper. Use them like a scraper for taking stickers off windshields. Works great. The next coat will melt in, and flow out never to be seen again!

Works also for runs you might miss after they dry. Scrape of the excess and put another light coat on and it will flow out and be perfect.

If you spot runs before they tack, take a long piece of painters tape and let it hang down to form a u between your hands. Lightly touch the run with the bottom of the U and lift up quickly it will take out the run and when it dries you will not notice. if you do, then slightly hit again after 24hrs and it will blend in

Waterlox is a PIA but is awesome on Cherry!

Both tricks are courtesy of the great Charles Neil!

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View Woodendeavor's profile


276 posts in 2030 days

#4 posted 03-08-2015 01:02 AM

I sand between all of my coats of Waterlox. It sounds like you are not fully cured when you are trying to sand out the dust nibs. My finishing schedule goes like this.

Sand surface of raw wood up through 220 grit.
Apply liberally Waterlox sealer, I mean put it on thick.
Allow 15 minutes then wipe off excess with paper towel
allow cure then sand with 500 grit Abralon
Apply 2nd coat of Waterlox sealer just as first coat
Allow cure then sand with 1000 grit Abralon
Apply 3rd and final coat of Waterlox sealer and leave the shop to not stir up any dust.
If any nibs appear I will scrape them out with a razor blade.

When I sand after the first coat I can not see any sanding marks on the surface of the wood using 500 grit. I have had a spot on a table top where a major scratch was put into it at a show, I spot sanded the scratch, put finish on where I sanded, allowed to dry and then put a final coal on the entire top and it blended in perfectly. You can not leave waterlox in a heavy coat on top of the wood, apply only what the wood will absorb and wipe off the rest.

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 645 days

#5 posted 03-08-2015 01:48 AM

I have/had the same problem, it doesn’t matter what grit sand paper, steel wool or synth pad you use. the prob will continue. Whether it’s dust or fines left behind does make a difference. I wipe with a damp sponge then cloth for fines. For smaller projects I cover the item after applying the coat with a card board box, I have even connected boxes. Dust, skin, dandruff, bug feces, sneeze junk, fiberglass insulation you name it is in the air and floats all over the place. Your project becomes charged and attracts the floaty junk. Having a heater in the room heats the air and what does warm air do?

The box thwarts most if not all the floaty by stopping circulation, it may take a bit longer to dry, so what yeah!

-- I meant to do that!

View Wildbrookies's profile


6 posts in 599 days

#6 posted 03-08-2015 02:25 AM

Hi gang. Tnx so much! Finish is definitely dry when I come back to it. I will try the razor blade scrape and maybe the scuff sanding block and will let you all know how it turns out.

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1275 posts in 1358 days

#7 posted 03-08-2015 04:57 AM

I didn’t understand how to use waterlox for a long time. Until about a month ago to be exact. The directions from the manufacturer are unclear and stupid. So here is what you should do:

Wipe it on nice and wet, let it sit for ten minutes or so, and then DRY IT OFF!!!!


I realize that the caps are sort of annoying, but I wish someone had told me this years ago. Waterlox is not a good finish to leave on wet and let dry because of your exact problem. It is an oil/varnish blend and is not at its best when left on wet. It should be wiped dry like any other oil would be. I’ve been there. It amazes me that this is not clear in the instructions. That will eliminate your nibs and scratch marks. It won’t be a thick finish, but that’s not what waterlox is for anyway.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View Wildbrookies's profile


6 posts in 599 days

#8 posted 03-08-2015 05:22 AM

Wiping off makes total sense. You are correct, their instructions are confusing. I really like your approach on this. I will then do many coats with a Urethane and then rub it out.

View Mike Throckmorton's profile

Mike Throckmorton

124 posts in 1088 days

#9 posted 03-08-2015 12:56 PM

Allan Little has some videos on how he applies Waterlox.

He’s very precise.

-- You are never complete, you just draw a line where done is and stop at that line.

View HornedWoodwork's profile


222 posts in 637 days

#10 posted 03-08-2015 01:06 PM

Have you tried a paper bag? A brown paper bag from the grocery store/takeout place makes a high quality/low scratch, finish de-nubberer. It removes just the nubs and leaves the finish intact. I’ve used this trick for years and it always works for me.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

View Wildbrookies's profile


6 posts in 599 days

#11 posted 03-12-2015 05:46 AM

Ok, here is where I’m at… Let me first say, that I am a furniture maker and I’m trying to produce as near flawless finish as possible. After much experimenting and hair pulling, I have determined that Waterlox cannot be touched with ANYTHING after applying or you WILL get and see scratches, even after applying additional coats.. No paper bag, no scotch pads, no fine sanding blocks, no steelwool, nadda! Do not touch! Rubbing in each finish (or flooding and wiping clean) is just too time consuming (needs many coats to build) and wasteful.

Short of building a true clean/finishing room, there is just no escaping dust/particles falling and getting trapped in the finish while left to dry. I live in the desert and even here it stays wet for too long for good results. From here on out, I will apply one coat of sealer (which mostly gets absorbed into the grain) and then move on to my clear coats. I spray Vermont Natural Coatings Polywhey which dries quickly and builds nicely. No sanding (scratching, I’m now calling it!) is needed between coats if applied and reapplied in a timely manor. I then buff out to a high gloss.

Bend, Oregon

View Kay Preston's profile

Kay Preston

24 posts in 598 days

#12 posted 03-12-2015 06:16 AM

Just the info I needed. Thanks all.

-- One day.....oh boy!!! One day..... I'll be half as good ..

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