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Forum topic by Bill White posted 01-21-2015 05:00 PM 1677 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Bill White

5108 posts in 4138 days

01-21-2015 05:00 PM

Why do so many use poly when there are so many more traditional and easily worked finishes available?
There! What do you think?


26 replies so far

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3763 days

#1 posted 06-13-2009 10:39 PM

poly in my opinion is very hard wearing does not leave tea / coffee cup stains is easily cleaned and is simply a great finish .Try oil or shellac and leave a tea cup on it for a few minutes.Then its a sand of the complete top and seal and restain and then poly LOL I find it great stuff why go backwards.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View PurpLev's profile


8542 posts in 3826 days

#2 posted 06-13-2009 10:51 PM

what ‘traditional’ finishes are you referring to? BLO? TO? those are penetrating oils, but do not provide the same protection a poly (surface) finish does when it comes to wear and tear, moisture, and liquids.

it really depends on what the finished product is – if it needs that protection than you can’t beat poly (laquer is somewhat comparable) – but if it doesn’t require such protection (liquids/moisture/kids/etc) then other finishes can indeed give much finer results.

it all boils down to the piece. I don’t think poly has taken over as the 1 and only finish.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 3608 days

#3 posted 06-13-2009 10:56 PM

All I used to use was POLY. Then I joined this site and started seeing the fine finnishes on projects here. Now I am starting to experiment. Went out and got some Tung oil/Varnish to use on the rings and it stands up A LOT better then the POLY would.

The Squirt also got some wax and has been putting it on her First box. I think she likes it and is going to add it to her “Man Box” also.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View John 's profile


253 posts in 3580 days

#4 posted 06-13-2009 11:23 PM

I used to use nothing but Poly but always had to go through great pains to prepare a place to do my spraying. After a few shops I worked in started backing away from Poly, I started using what they brought in, mostly Lacquer & Oils. But, for certain pieces if furniture, NOTHING beats an Oil Poly.


-- John

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3703 days

#5 posted 06-13-2009 11:24 PM

I will agree that there are plenty of beter finishes than poly. I’d rather use laquer for a tabletop than poly anyday. Poly takes too long to dry(oil based), and isn’t nearly as durable as laquer. For most of the furniture I build I use blo then shellac, then wax. If it’s a top, then I’ll spray laquer on it after blo, and shellac for durability. I feel poly is more for the do it yourselfer than the professional.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View NY_Rocking_Chairs's profile


516 posts in 3775 days

#6 posted 06-13-2009 11:53 PM

It depends on what the piece is going to be used for. I prefer Danish Oil, but if it is a table top that is going to see a lot of use, then I would definitely put on the poly for the protection. For a super-durable surface I will even use epoxy resin as a top coat.

-- Rich, anybody want a peanut?

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 4117 days

#7 posted 06-14-2009 12:38 AM

I like poly.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 3703 days

#8 posted 06-14-2009 12:44 AM

Rich, Danish oil has poly in it

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 3922 days

#9 posted 06-14-2009 12:55 AM

I like a hand rubbed finish and it’s hard to do with poly. I like the tung oil or BLO and varnish mix. I can get just the amount of shine that I need and nothing feels quite like a hand rubbed finish,especially if you follow up with a coat of wax. It holds up well enough. Most of my clients aren’t going to pay good money for a custom built piece of furniture, then leave an ice tea glass setting on it, even though I do it quite often. Also, I don’t care to spend a day trying to round up all of the dust in my shop so that I can use a spray or brush on finish.

View a1Jim's profile


117283 posts in 3755 days

#10 posted 06-14-2009 01:04 AM

To each there own and each project dictates what will work best. Some folks just use one finish over and over, If that works for them that’s fine. I think a lot of us stick with what we know,but finishes have changed over the years. Some of the finishes that were terrible 10 years ago are the best finishes around now.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4029 posts in 4242 days

#11 posted 06-14-2009 01:37 AM

I’m a big fan of waterborne Acrylic Lacquer (Target Coating’s Ultima Spray Lacquer). Safe to spray, fast drying, levels easily and toughens up nicely when cured.

And it’s hard to beat the ease of ragged on shellac, although it’s not the best for heat/moisture exposure.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View WibblyPig's profile


172 posts in 3452 days

#12 posted 06-14-2009 04:58 AM

Personally, I like shellac. Floors, furniture, boxes, etc. Easy to build. Easy to manipulate. And easy to repair.

-- Steve, Webster Groves, MO "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3946 days

#13 posted 06-14-2009 05:22 AM

same as Purplev… what would you consider traditional?

i like poly because it offers protection. you need a good amount of coats of it (i usually go with around 5) to get a nice finish but it sure does finish nicely. I do use plenty of other finishes though. Shellac is one of my favorite for small projects and things starting off with a coat of seal a cell and then followed by shellac really brings out the grain and offers protection. on table tops and the like my favorite is probably a sprayed water based poly. i have a spary booth though so it doesnt get much better than that for my shop. dont want to deal with catylists… yet… but i still love poly and use it a lot especially for highly detailed projects where i dont want to much buildup but i want protection.

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3946 days

#14 posted 06-14-2009 05:23 AM

oh and also many of the finishes today like said above are much imporved from what they used to be. but you still need a good product. gneral finishes makes some of the best stuff out there and it is much better than minwax and the other box store brands. but from those box store brands poly is the only finish some people know. so thats what they tend to stick with

View Rustic's profile


3254 posts in 3774 days

#15 posted 06-14-2009 06:29 AM

I have used BLO for years and started using poly and shellac. I like them all.

--, Rick Kruse, Grand Rapids, MI

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