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 Post subject: Wipe-on Poly
PostPosted: Apr Thu 19, 2018 3:04 pm 
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Recently I did a little test piece to try out gloss Wipe-on Poly.

Results have been mixed. I have finished it and refinished it, and while I can get a pretty good gloss (by putting it on thick) it's just not the mirror finish I am looking for. No matter how careful I am there is always some flaw.

A woodworking forum I'm a member at said after the finish cures to polish it up the best I can and then add a coat of wax, but I'd rather stay away from wax if possible, because of the maintenance issue. I've read some people use it here - are there any tips you can share?

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 Post subject: Re: Wipe-on Poly
PostPosted: Apr Thu 19, 2018 7:55 pm 
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For a mirror finish you need to use a grain filler.

30 years ago I did a lot of furniture in polyurethane. It took six coats until I got a mirror finish. Even then, after a month of drying, some of the wood pores would show through.

Many of the flaws I dealt with were dust particles that settled on the wet finish. I'd carefully pick them out before it dried. I even went as far as hanging balloons above the work, in hopes the static from rubbing them in my hair would attract dust and keep it off the finish.


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 Post subject: Re: Wipe-on Poly
PostPosted: Apr Thu 19, 2018 10:28 pm 
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I have a clear grain filler that I'm using. That too took some trial and error to use. Why do all the instructions say to 'Apply liberally, rub in, then remove the excess', when if you don't put it on and leave it rather thick it dries up to nothing?

I've also already taken for granted that I'm going to have to get a finishing tent to control dust when finishing. I hadn't thought of the balloon trick - good thinking! My problem is that no matter how evenly I try to apply it, inevitably dull areas are appearing.

Perhaps as you suggest I just need more coats. I've been stopping at 3.

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 Post subject: Re: Wipe-on Poly
PostPosted: Apr Fri 20, 2018 10:56 am 
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If the grain is properly filled, you don't need so many layers of a topcoat. I usually grain fill twice, with a light sanding in between. I only use lacquer, but when the grain is properly filled, only a couple of coats are needed to get a nice surface.

Peter


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 Post subject: Re: Wipe-on Poly
PostPosted: Apr Fri 20, 2018 12:36 pm 
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I wound never use wipe on poly or any other poly on a radio cabinet. :shock:


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 Post subject: Re: Wipe-on Poly
PostPosted: Apr Fri 20, 2018 2:29 pm 
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I intend on using it for other things I am building, including some custom radio cabinets. I don't intend on using it on any actual vintage cabinets, though I've seen here on ARF that some do.

Because I am building and selling things, I don't want to spend too much time on them. There's simply no way to make it pay if I spend too much time building them, and most finishes just take too much time. I am after the look of clear lacquer, but I've heard it takes as long as 6 weeks for a properly cured lacquer finish. A proper Polyurethane finish can take up to a week.

It's possible with Wipe-on Poly to have a decent finish in a just a few days - theoretically. I was hoping others might share what success they've had.

Oh yes, and I accidentally dropped my test piece, putting a ding in it, so I've started refinishing it for the third time. We'll see how it goes this time. :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Wipe-on Poly
PostPosted: Apr Fri 20, 2018 3:29 pm 
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fred taylor wrote:
I would never use wipe on poly or any other poly on a radio cabinet. :shock:
+1 Fred...

I finished woodwork in my home with Poly' 18 YA. It has been flaking and peeling on the sunny sides even though there is UV glass in the windows. It is a strip and re-finish project I do not envy...

The gloss and nips finish issue dealing with slow to cure finishes can be overcome but using varnish not a Poly'. Requires the same multiple coats, but breaking the nips from the dust each coat with 400 wet sandpaper then the last coat carefully with 600 wet with a block. Followed with powdered pumice in oil, lastly the "polish" is rottenstone in water. The large number of coats is to build a layer that gets plained off with the final polishing. I have done it, looks good but finish is very hard and can chip. Deep gloss as well as bringing out the "flash" in the grain. Only varnish, Poly' is too gummy and difficult to wet sand, adhesion is poor between coats. Be prepared to take at least two weeks.

Only other plus is far less flammable, unless one gets careless with contaminated rags...

My varnish at the time was McCloskey's cabinet rubbing varnish. McCloskey is gone, bought by Val-Spar. I do not know if Val-Spar has the same or equivalent formula.

[quote="Sol"I am after the look of clear lacquer, but I've heard it takes as long as 6 weeks for a properly cured lacquer finish. A proper Polyurethane finish can take up to a week.[/quote]Almost missed your point... Lacquer can be a very fast hard cure... You must get familiar with mixing lacquer with other finish products such as hardeners and anti-fish-eye. Not stuff off the shelf tried by failure. A finish supplier can advise. Past job was at golf ball manufacturing. Early finishes cured hard in 24 hours using petro solvents. Since cutbacks in greenhouse emissions, went to water base, even faster hard cure, near impossible to damage even whacking with a golf club...

FWIR the supplier was Dubois, but that was when it was solvent.

YMMV

Chas


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 Post subject: Re: Wipe-on Poly
PostPosted: Apr Fri 20, 2018 3:50 pm 
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Thanks for the post Chas. You've given me some good leads to follow.

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 Post subject: Re: Wipe-on Poly
PostPosted: Apr Mon 23, 2018 10:29 pm 
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Spray lacquer is the gold standard but wipe-on poly is very good as well and extremely easy to work with. You will need to grain fill first for many woods.

If you plan to stain the wood first, plain old spackle makes a very easy to work with filler. Just thin it out with water to the consistency of heavy cream and apply cross-wise to the grain with a putty knife. Sand lightly with the grain until all you see left is filling the depressions in the grain. You may want to do this twice.

I stain with minwax penetrating stains and the spackle absorbs the color no problem. Then, apply wipe-on poly with white, folded paper towels. You will probably want to do 2 or 3 coats. Makes a beautiful finish and doesn't smell like lacquer. It's also very forgiving to work with and hard to screw up. Many will try to dissuade you, usually those who have never used the product and remember the horrible plasticky looking poly finishes from years past. Try it yourself on a project you don't consider too precious and make up your own mind.

Peter Balazy is the usual apostle for this product, but I figured I'd give him a break from all the usual brickbats he fields when he recommends it. I have tried it and it works. On the other hand, I wouldn't refinish a rare radio with it like a Zenith Stratosphere or Detrola Egyptian for fear of ruining the value ( or any radio of significant value, for that matter)


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 Post subject: Re: Wipe-on Poly
PostPosted: Apr Mon 23, 2018 11:49 pm 
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fred taylor wrote:
I wound never use wipe on poly or any other poly on a radio cabinet. :shock:


I have 1 or 2 unused/unopened cans of wipe-on poly. I just can't bring myself to use it and ought to give it away. My son uses it for outside patio benches, which do in fact look beautiful. Since my radios don't reside outside, I'll keep on using lacquer.

One final thought... If you've ever had to strip a radio cabinet that was previously "refinished" with wipe-on poly (or any polyurethane), you'll never, ever ever use the stuff. Don't care who you are or how you strip polyurethane off a wood cabinet, it's a pain in the backside.

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 Post subject: Re: Wipe-on Poly
PostPosted: Apr Tue 24, 2018 7:30 pm 
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I finished my test piece, and it turned out pretty well actually.

I had to refinish it twice, but I learned a lot doing it. It can be laid on thick, but it takes a horizontal surface to do it or it drips. I removed the previous finishes by sanding, which may not work on thinner veneers, but I cut these myself, so was confident of not sanding through.

I think it looks great, definitely that guitar lacquer mirror-like finish I was looking for, with brilliant chatoyance even with the walnut. The other woods are cherry, teak, and a tigerwood border on a Baltic birch plywood substrate. The cuts could be closer, but it wasn't intended for show. Not bad for a quickie though.

Because I put it on thick, sanding with 320 between coats, I let each coat dry for a full day. It recently warmed up here, so I was able to apply it outdoors for the final coats, taking care of the dust problem.

So is it any quicker than just using lacquer? You know, I don't think so. As long as the grain is properly filled when you start, it doesn't take that long to build a proper finish with either product. It is nice to have alternatives though.

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 Post subject: Re: Wipe-on Poly
PostPosted: Apr Fri 27, 2018 2:08 pm 
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I used it on a changing table I made for my son ten years ago. It's still holding up. I used maple and mahogany with no grainfiller, and I used the matte variety. I used very thin coats, resulting in a very thin finish. I'm a little surprised it's not more banged up.


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 Post subject: Re: Wipe-on Poly
PostPosted: Apr Fri 27, 2018 11:27 pm 
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I used the 'satin' wipe-on poly a few years ago on a night stand I made. I wanted a finish that was quick and easy and more durable, in case someone spilled something on it. I applied 3 coats according to the instructions and it worked perfect. It's a nice finish that has stood up well.

That's one big reason I wanted to try the gloss.

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 Post subject: Re: Wipe-on Poly
PostPosted: Apr Sat 28, 2018 12:15 am 
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Peter wrote:
If the grain is properly filled, you don't need so many layers of a topcoat. I usually grain fill twice, with a light sanding in between. r
Yep! The Timbermate makes grain filling much easier. I apply it with burlap.

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 Post subject: Re: Wipe-on Poly
PostPosted: Apr Mon 30, 2018 11:59 am 
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I don't think you can use wipe on poly and mirror finish in the same sentence. It will be a lot more work to get poly to a mirror finish vs lacquer.

I make my wipe on poly by adding 50% mineral spirits to regular poly. Each coat goes on thin, but they dry faster than a regular brushed or sprayed coat. Still, they don't dry nearly as fast as lacquer or buff out as well.

I use lacquer on radios, but the advantage of poly is superior durability, and I have used it on furniture with excellent results. The first time I used it was 21 years ago when I made a cradle for my first born. The finish on that still looks perfect, but the lacquer finish on radios I did in that time era have not stood up as well- much of the cause for them not holding up is the movement of the solid woods and veneers under the finish due to natural changes in humidity. I find the lacquer to get very brittle whereas the poly retains more flexibility to absorb tiny amounts of wood movement. The hide glues used have not stood the test of time and I believe they allow a lot of wood movement vs modern PVA glues.


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