Poly application

What ways have you guys found that work best for application of poly? I've been using those expensive pads and just thinking there has to be something better/cheaper.
Suggestions?
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I use wiping polyurethane, applied with painter rags. The rags are mostly scraps from cutting out T-shirts. They're usually nice and clean, but I take care to examine them before use.
More junk gets in the finish from the air than from the rags. Light sanding gets rid of it. I don't like gloss finishes, so I also lightly sand the final coat with 2000 grit wet/dry sandpaper.
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I am getting ready to start a project using poly as well. I was reading that the china bristle brushes are pretty good. But you want to prep the brush first by soaking it in the liquid that would clean it(mineral spirits). Also it seems that for us newbies, we dont want to use the fast drying, so that we have time to work with it and get used to it. I dont know if you can thin out the fast-drying to make it last longer or not. I guess I am not really being that helpful.
I did see a tip though that you can recycle your mineral spirits by pouring it into a 2 liter bottle letting the junk settle out then pouring it carefully into another container( i am assuming you dont want to pour it back into the original container but i could be wrong)
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setup before it had a chance to "flow out Back in the old days with the solvent based poly, I'd just put a tent over the project to prevent dust, and everything was fine. Now days I use an old white T shirt dampened with water first, and I dampen the project also. I have no idea what the project will look like in time, but that was the only way I could get it to look reasonable. I'm definetly looking for spray guns now
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wrote:

setup before it had a chance to "flow out Back in the old days with the solvent based poly, I'd just put a tent over the project to prevent dust, and everything was fine. Now days I use an old white T shirt dampened with water first, and I dampen the project also. I have no idea what the project will look like in time, but that was the only way I could get it to look reasonable. I'm definetly looking for spray guns now
If you have not used a gel varnish yet you might want to look at that. No problems that are normally associated with liquids and you can get spray gun smooth with no effort.
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I did see a tip though that you can recycle your mineral spirits by pouring it into a 2 liter bottle letting the junk settle out then pouring it carefully into another container( i am assuming you dont want to pour it back into the original container but i could be wrong)
**********************************************************************************
You can recycle your solvents this way but a word of caution - only use those recycled solvents for your primary cleaning. Never use them as thinners for your finishes. I would not even use them for my final cleaning. Though the solvents may appear to be fairly clean after things have settled out, they really are not. Contamination is almost guaranteed. So - for cleaning the nasty stuff up, they're fine, but follow that up with a cleaning with new solvents.
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-Mike-
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Read the can and follow the directions. For years I used wiping varnishes with good results. In recent history I have used General Finishes Arm-R-Seal varnish and the recommendation is to use a quality Foam Brush. Wooster Foam brushes at Lowe's work well. Surprisingly these foam brushes will work well. With this particular varnish I put a first coat on with a rag to seal the wood and follow that with a single coat using the foam brush, it goes on that thick and that evenly.
Better yet use a Gel varnish. Wipe it on, immediately wipe it off and don't worry about runs, drips, or dust. Apply 3 to 5 coats.
http://lawrencemcfadden.com/
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Leon wrote:

for a long time. The Chinese bristle was the standard tool for any oil based product. We would first work a little raw linseed oil into it to help keep it from getting stiff after cleaning out the varnish. On big jobs the brushes were kept suspended in a mix of the oil and thinner overnight, then spun out the next morning for use. Mike is right about the recycled thinner, don't use it for reducing your poly. I like to use naphtha for that. Now we have some great new bushes such as Chinex and Syntox by Purdy. The Syntox has very fine tips that leave a smooth surface. On a larger flat surface I will use a foam roller to quickly apply the poly and then "tip off" the surface with the syntox brush. By that I mean you make one very light pass with the brush to level out the roller stipple. Thin the poly, don't use it straight out of the can. Have a powerful light at a low angle across the work so you can see misses. A gravity feed gun is the best way to go if you have detailed parts that are hard to brush. Coats of poly have to be applied within a time frame so they will bond together. That's why lacquer is a great product, each coat will melt into the previous but the spray gun is a must if you want to use it. Once you get to spaying a good lacquer you will be hooked and you don't have to spend a fortune on equipment thanks to Harbor Freight, I know it's all from China but what isn't these days!
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Thanks for sharing the experience!

I spray lots, but learned a ton from the earlier part of your post.
Thanks again!
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Building furniture for 30 years and using the expensive natural hair brushes I agree that they are great for painting. I avoid using a brush for varnishes if at all possible. For me spraying is too much trouble with prep and clean up. Wipe on Gels are way too easy for me to consider anything else. Dust and drips don't even enter in the equation and you get a glass smooth finish. Clean up involves washing your hands and 3 or 4 coats a day are a reasonable expectation.
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On Tue, 20 May 2008 23:37:03 -0400, DanielMatt wrote:

Three or four of my wife's lint-free makeup pads, wrapped in a 3x3 (or 4x4) piece of T-shirt or similar material.
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I use General Finishes Seal a Cell and ArmrSeal, applied with VIVA paper towels. Learned about it at WoodCraft finishing class a few years ago. Works well for me.
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