Dust free place to apply poly

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I am scrambling for a location to apply (wipe on) poly to my small project. This is my first time around on this.
The bench or shop where I made the project is surely a terrible candidate. How about a freshly lined gargage can or cardboard box, lying on it's side, with a stand inside? Obviously, I'm desperate! : )
BTW, my project is a 12" honing strop including a handle, in Hard Maple, and it's the first project off of my new workbench. It's a good learning opportunity and I would like it to make a good impression on my woodcarving friends (at least one of which I'm trying to "sell" on woodworking). Considering what the piece looks like now, about 3 hours after I cut it off of my bandsaw (with wavy cuts), I feel fortunate (or lucky) that it has come out as well as it did! That was the first time I used my bandsaw on a project too.
P.S. While I'm writing, please allow me to ask another question. Should any finish of any sort be applied to my newly made workbench (I'm reminded of Scotch-Guard that people apply to their furniture)? I'm tempted to just use it as-is, but my sister asked me to send her a picture after I painted it! Ha!
P.S.S Does anyone else think Tommy Mac (on his TV show) gets his fingers too close to his table saw blade? I don't even have a table saw and I wouldn't be as cavalier! : )
Cheers, Bill
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On 6/26/2012 5:57 PM, Bill wrote:

I can not comment on most of your question, but I have an opinion on the workbench.
About 15 years ago I built a work bench out of White wood 2X4 and plywood. The 2X4 joints are all half lapped, and the plywood top is rabbeted into the 2X4 that create the perimeter of the top.
I varnish the whole thing, and I am completely satisfied with the results. Today after all of these years the workbench looks nearly as good as it did when I finished it. If build an new one or refinish this one I word go the varnish route
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On 6/26/2012 4:57 PM, Bill wrote:

If you use a "GEL" wipe on varnish dust is pretty much a non issue providing you don't purposely put dust on it. Dry to touch in 10 or minutes.
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Nothing magic about wipe-on poly that has special requirements. Just vacuum off a surface and set your project down on it and go to town.
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Any reasonably clean area it good enough for finishing your project. If you do think there may be a dust issue, like the wind blowing dust onto the area, use the garden hose, on fine mist setting, and spray a small area to keep the dust down and from drifting near the work area.
Sonny
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J. Clarke wrote:

Thank you very much. I printed off a procedure that is a little more complicated (for instance, including sanding with 320 grit or steel wool after the 2nd coat), but your confidence makes me optimistic! I bought a tack rag anyway!
Actually, when I first started reading about the poly application--it made me consider dispensing with the whole idea of finishing it at all, but then I realized that doing that would be compromising both my project and myself (my opportunity to get a useful finishing experience).
Cheers, Bill
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On 6/26/2012 4:57 PM, Bill wrote:

Take a look at Dr Deb's post on her new workbench. You can't do better than that.
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Gramp's shop wrote:

Yes, I found Dr. Deb's post and realized it was the one that triggered me into thinking I should provide some finish. Thanks!
Bill
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Gramp's shop wrote:

Yep, beautiful work!
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Had same problem refinishing a roll-top desk. Used approx 50-50 mix of regular poly and mineral spirits. It's become my regular recipe for poly. Flows easily, gets into cracks and corners, and dries fast. Since it's thinner, you use more coats, but it still seems quicker and you don't have to worry so much that it's truly dry when sanding. Brush or wipe, but lint-free cloth is essential if wiping. Sanding is more like a gentle dusting off. Lightly!
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You can also wipe it on 100%, straight from the can.
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What's so bad about it? A morton building with a dirt floor and open door would be a terrible place, but the garage with concrete floor not so much. Just don't go making a bunch of sawdust or do a bunch of cleaning with the air compressor.
*snip*

I applied shellac smoothed with steel wool and wax to mine. It made the top smooth and sorta slick, which is good for a table saw infeed table but not necessarily good for a work bench.
The nice thing about shop furniture is that it doesn't need a finish. The other nice thing is that you won't enjoy it less if the finish is done poorly. *snip*

--
Make it to fit, don't make it fit.

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Puckdropper wrote:

Yes, I weighed the pros and cons of finishing the bench after reading about BLO and decided to just leave well enough alone for the time being. It's not like I have some fine hardwood I wish to highlight.
Concerning the small project I am going to finish: This IS some drywall dust in my shop, since some things are "under construction". I guess I just got a little paranoid after reading the writings of people who were uptight about the whole process (I too have gotten dust in my varnish before, under better conditions than I have now). Having had a few more hours to think about it however, my process will be better--I will tape up the parts I don't want to get finish on and use duck tape to bound my piece to a short length of EMT, or whatever else is handy. I'd pound that EMT into the ground like a stake but we have a lot of low flying birds in the area--and/or someone might tell me that doing so violates the NEC! ; )
I learned plenty about finishes today. But, I left some for another day.
Cheers, Bill
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Don't worry about it, Bill. Dust is inevitable. You can't prevent it. Instead, you cope with it.
Here's how:
Once you have the project smooth enough to finish (by sanding, planing, scraping, or whatever), wipe it down with a dry microfiber cloth to remove dust from the surface. Then apply your first coat of wipe-on poly. Wait for it to dry, then sand the surface with 400-grit sandpaper. Wipe again with the microfiber cloth, and apply another coat. Repeat. Repeat again, using 600-grit this time. Repeat once more, using either 600- or 800-grit. When dry, sand with 1000-grit or finer (available at nearly any auto parts store), and wipe with the microfiber cloth. You're done, and the surface will feel like glass.
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Doug Miller wrote:

Thanks Doug. I assume that T-shirt material qualify as "microfiber" cloth. I've got a tack rag too. I was going to rub with a rag with denatured alcohol to clean out the pores of the wood before the first coat.
While we're on this topic, the state of my knowledge is that 320, say, Aluminum Oxide sand paper (designed for wood) is similarly abrasive to 320 grit Silicon Carbide ("wet or dry"), except the later is designed for metal. I know the Aluminum Oxide breaks down as you use it, helping to keep the paper free of dust. I might guess I might actually want to use water, if I was following the procedure Doug outlined, just to keep the paper usable. Do I need to correct any of this?
Thanks, Bill
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On 6/27/2012 2:29 PM, Bill wrote:

A follow up to my gel varnish suggestion....
I just came in from the shop. I applied Old Masters Gel Varnish to the top, bottom, and front edge of 16 shelves and to the fronts of 6 cabinet backs,approximately 14"x75"
After applying the varnish to one side I immediately flipped them over on the fresh surface to do the other side, one at a time. When finished with each I picked them up with no worry of dust or prints and stood them on end with a fan blowing on them.
That took about 2.5 hours.
I know you already have your varnish but go buy a can of Old Masters and skip all the preparation that goes with liquid varnishes. BTY no scuffing between coats either.
Use sparingly, I used 1/2 quart. Subsequent coats will take much less.
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My shoulders are aching just reading this. The heat ran me out of the shop around 3 ... not as hot outside as yesterday, but 104 in the shop.
--
www.ewoodshop.com

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On 6/27/2012 4:50 PM, Swingman wrote:

LOL I for got to mention that I gave ease surface a "double" wipe down with t-shirt tags to remove excess varnish but that only to a few moments. I saw 99 in the shop but with the fan blosing directly on me I was able to do all the pieces non stop in about 2.5 hours. Just checked their drying progress and the first ones are ready to be recoated.
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On 6/27/2012 6:37 PM, Leon wrote:

Whenever I try that the fan dries the stain/varnish too quickly. Then again, my fan has only category 4 and category 5 hurricane settings.
--
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Last update: 4/15/2010
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On 6/27/2012 6:48 PM, Swingman wrote:

Yes! that will happen if the fan is plowing on the surface, apply less, a smaller section and wipe down immediately. The clue here is if the first wiping rag is grabby you need to work smaller sections. Wait 2~5 minutes for the second wipe down with another clean rag. Stains are a little trickier to get a consistent color coverage but clear varnish is a snap. My neighbor is buying the current book cases and I showed her how simple the varnish was to apply, her jaw hit the floor.
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