Help with sticky surfaces


For practice, I'm finishing a piece of furniture that isn't too important. It is a fish tank stand.
I did fine with the top surface, fixing it up and using MinWax pre-stain Wood conditioner, red oak Wood Finish Stain and Fast Drying Polyurethane. That's part 1.
I'm now working on the bottom. This is part 2. No fixing up because its the bottom; I went straight to 2 layers of Wood Finish Stain, sand, and then I applied 1 layer of Polyurethane. The next step was to sand it a little with 340 grade paper. I did that yesterday. After that sanding, all the surfaces I had worked on are sticky and I don't know what to do.
I think the stickiness is due to getting mineral spirits on the wood. I did that twice. First, I lubricated the sandpaper with mineral spirits. Second, I spilled some paint thinner on my tack cloth. When I used the tack cloth, it left a wet surface behind.
Is tacky the same as sticky?
Any ideas on what to do? My game plan is to wait. Its still sticky, a day later.
TIA,
Dan
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Yuck!
Question:
How long did the stain dry before the Poly?
Someone will know what contaminants were picked up from the tack cloth.
Jim

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Woodhead wrote:

Over a day. It was dry and nonsticky.

Every store in my neck of the woods sells the same tack cloth, for 75 cents. Its cheesecloth. If its made as the books say, it would have mineral spirits and varnish.

I think a light application of dry steel wool might solve the problem. I used some dry 320 grit paper earlier on one spot and think that helped a little bit.
Dan
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Dan-the-K wrote:

With stain it's important not to leave any sitting on the surface, the big mistake people make is not wiping it all off or not letting it dry 24 hours. I never use a tack cloth, just vacuum up the dust or wipe lightly with a rag and paint thinner.
Poly can be a problem if the stuff is old or applied too thick, it should thinned 8 to 1 and allowed at least 24 hours before sanding, 0000 steel wool works better than sand paper between coats.
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I just put 4 different finishes on 4 different boxes last night. This morning I was able to put a 2 nd coat on the on box with 1) waterlox, 2) BLO, 3) shellac but the 4th one with oil Poly wasnt dry enough. We had rain last night and its in a basement which I am sure was part of the problem.
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mike wilcox wrote:

I'm sure I wiped it all off after about 15 minutes and I'm sure I waited a day, maybe as much as 3 days before I sanded it and applied the poly. As I said, the wood was in good condition after applying poly and before I sanded it and cleared it off with a tack cloth.
There are two sections that might have caused a problem, but the stickiness is everywhere, not just on those two sections. On those two sections, I applied a second coat of stain but forgot to wipe the excess off in 15 minutes or less. That stain remained for about a half hour or hour. More than a day later, I applied another coat of stain to all horizontal surfaces.
Dan
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Dan-the-K wrote:

I've never use more than two coats of stain, it won't color any darker if you use a third unless you're leaving pigmnet on the surface. If you're trying to stain a light hardwood like maple a darker shade, use a dye stain.
In cases of a sticky finish it's generally a case of wax/polish residue. I'd just strip it all off and start fresh, check for shiny areas and wipe with paper towel and paint thinner. Look for colored residue on the towel and wipe with clean towel and thinners until it shows clean, then follow up with a wipe of lacquer thinner.
Mike Wilcox
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8 to 1 !!!??? Are you out of your mind? Most off-the-shelf poly doesn't have to be thinned at all; you CAN thin it if you want, but 8:1 seems pretty crazy. I sometimes thin as much as 2:1 to get better flow-out when spraying, but I see little advantage to going any further than that. A blanket statement like poly has to be thinned 8:1 is misleading to say the least.
Minwax wood stain (and most other pigment stains) uses a varnish binder and can be built up just like any other finish. For all intents and purposes, it's basically paint with a very low solids content. You could paint it on thick like poly and let it build on the surface if you want. The reason for wiping off all of the excess is that, like paint, the solids are opaque. Building a thick finish will obscure the grain - usually not desirable when staining wood. However, there's no reason other than asthetics and curing time to wipe all of the excess stain off. Certainly it should not have the impact described in the OP. This might have been what you were saying with the "or let it dry 24 hours" addendum.
mike wilcox wrote:

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Josh wrote:

8 parts poly to one part thinners for brush application, you get no bubbles or brush marks. I've been in the refinishing/restoration business since the 1960's, if works fine.

All pigmented stains are meant to be applied and the excess wiped off, the stain will not dry properly within the dry time on the can if you lather it on and leave it sitting on the surface. The result is a soft finish that does not adhere well and is prone to separating from the surface. If I had a dollar for every muddy refinishing job I've seen in the last 40 years applied as you describe I'd be a very wealthy man. Btw. quit top posting if you want any further response.
Mike Wilcox
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Aaahhhh. Poly:thinner, not the other way around. I get it.
Does that help with sagging (or make it worse)?
Josh
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Josh wrote:

Sagging/runs tends to happen within about ten minutes of application, just keep an eye out for it and lightly brush them our with a foam brush.
Mike Wilcox
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Dan:
A lot of tack cloths are just a hunk of cheesecloth soaked in raw linseed oil, which takes "forever" to dry (cure if you like). Getting mineral spirits on the tack cloth diluted the RLO enough to transfer some to the surface (hence the wet surface you mention).
I'd wipe the surface clean with more mineral spirits, let that dry (minutes, 1/2 hour?), and I suspect no sticky will be left. If so, proceed with whatever your planned next step is. You may want to air out the tack cloth before you use it again - not too much, but a bit (1/2 hour or so). Or buy a new one.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< SNIP >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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Tom Banes wrote:

Problem solved! Sprayed on Formby's Build-up Remover, rubbed it with a cloth; rubbed it off, and its now just like it should be.
I wish I knew what went wrong so I could avoid it in the future. Maybe it was the tack cloth. Tom, are you saying it was the raw linseed oil in the tack cloth?
Dan
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. Tom, are you saying it was the raw linseed oil

Dan:
That's my guess, but I've been wrong before (many times). A tack cloth shouldn't leave a wet or sticky surface after use, so something was squirrely.
Regards.
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Tom Banes wrote:

Minwax wrote in response, saying "Also, we do not recommend using tack cloth with any of our products due to the chemical incompatibility of the tack cloth resin. We recommend using mineral spirits and a lint free cloth to prep and clean the surfaces."
Dan
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AHA!

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