Polyurethnane as a wood finish

Hello there, I do not have any experience in wood finishing. I do need your advice on what type of finish/coat I should use on my table top. I need to have a hard/clear and easy to apply coating. I have surfed different websites, and I have got this idea that polyurethane is a good candidate. What do you think? I am living in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada so I really appreciate if someone who knows Edmonton retail stores please tell me where I can buy a good quality polyurethane finish/brush. I have bought MINWAX polyurthane, however, I am not so sure if this brand name would be good for a novice person like me. I do not want to screw up my table just because of bad quality product. Your help is gretly appreciated.
cheers Fardin
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I recently did an oak desk in Minwhacks poly, as I exhausted all alternatives for a safe, hard finish. I looked into pre-cat lacs, CV varnish, water based urethanes, and ended up not wanting to deal with xylene, lacquer thinner, soft finishes, or something that was a downside to each of those products. The only downside while finishing is the slow drying time and the settling of the sticky mist on anything nearby. If you can deal with than while spraying, or are really good with a brush, poly's your ticket. I rubbed it out a bit with a white synthetic pad. between coats I sanded a bit with 320. Turned out fine. Folks I asked also told me that lacquer wouldn't hold up as well as poly, so even with the toxicity/flammability issue aside, poly still won out for me.
I did do the cabinet in water based poly and loved it for it's fast drying and it looks fine. It goes well with the poly'd top.
dave
FardinA wrote:

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I've got to say this time I feel you missed it Dave. Throughout the post it was pretty apparent that this person might just be new to all this, so (and I am not being critical, I think) you bombarded FerdinA with a myriad of alternatives, formulas, approaches, buffing pads, and sanding grits. I sure am glad he didn't ask anything complicated. Might I suggest a better answer? Yes........polyurethane will be fine for your table top, whether gloss or satin finish is up to you. Buy a few of those inexpensive foam brushes, they can be had in most hardware stores and they put down a smooth layer of finish. Long strokes along the entire length is best. Let the surface dry thoroughly, probably overnight to be safe, and then sand it lightly with a fine grit sandpaper (300 to 400) Then wipe it clean, with a dampened cloth, (mineral spirits is good) and reapply the poly. The more coats you apply the deeper the finish will get, but it sometimes makes a cloudy finish if you do too many coats.
Dave

me.
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the gentlemanly thing for you to have done would have been to reply to the OP with your own thoughts on the matter, without trying to make ME wrong.
I think YOU missed it DAVID!
DAVE
David Babcock wrote:

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I tried to do the gentlemanly thing, but got this as a response:
The following addresses had delivery problems:
Permanent Failure: Other address status
and here is the response I tried to send: I sit here and watch these posts, and wonder why everyone has it out for you. And I can't figure it out, so I've stopped trying to. Of course I see your name a lot, but that is your privilege to respond to as many posts as you choose. I wasn't trying to make you wrong, believe me, but at times I see people with simple problems get buried with information, as you did. Let me apologize for not taking the discreet approach, and will take my lesson learned and put it away for another day. See you can teach old dogs new tricks. Have a good holiday season and we'll see you around.
Dave Oh by the way, I liked your desk. Of course there were things I would have tried differently, but that's what makes the world go round.

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I don't use my email address because of spam. When spam is eliminated, I'll be glad to post my real address.
I too have no clue why guys waste their time with off-topic bashing. Sometimes I lash back, sometimes I ignore, and other times I plonk. I try not to sink all the way down to their level, but I sometimes go part way.
I STILL think the correct way to let an OP know how YOU feel is to answer him directly, instead of arguing with a previous responder. Try it next time, and see that both opinions can coexist, with no need for this sort of discussion, which is decidedly OFF-TOPIC!
That being said, I'm not really upset with you as much as you may have inferred, from my request that you post directly to the OP...
shake?
dave
David Babcock wrote:

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FardinA wrote:

Behlen's Rockhard table top varnish. Non-poly, so coats fuse better, producing a nearly optically clear top coat. Cured finish can be compounded to a higher gloss.

Cut the varnish (Rockhard or poly) 50%. Slight addition of linseed or tung improves flowout. Apply with a rag. Toss the rag when finished -- no brush to clean, money saved, less pollution.

No problem with the brand save that you paid mostly for a name.
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I used Minwax oil-based gloss polyurethane on my first big finishing project- a cherry dining table- and it turned out beautifully. Unstained, it really brought out the depth and curl of the grain.
If you go with polyurethane, I recommend you use only gloss--avoid the semi-gloss and satin. Those last two are actually misnomers--they should be called "slightly opaque" and "moderately opaque." These finishes contain microscopic bits of material which diffuse the light going through the finish to produce a satin "effect" rather than a true satin surface finish. I used satin poly on the legs and apron of that same table, and the difference is striking--the grain looks washed-out and flat with no clarity or depth. It's okay for something on the bottom half of the table, 'cause folks aren't going to spend a lot of time staring at the legs. I suppose the effect wouldn't be quite so pronounced with a big-grained wood like oak or ash, but I'm just guessing.
If you like the semi-gloss or satin look, you can rub out your gloss finish with super fine steel wool or mineral wool to get a true satin, rather than opaque, finish.
Polyurethane is also the toughest (most durable) finish readily available to the newbie woodworker. It's not difficult to brush properly, just takes attention to detail and a good bit of elbow grease (what good finish doesn't?).
I highly recommend Bob Flexner's book "Understanding Wood Finishing." It debunks all the common finishing myths and gives detailed instructions to get any kind of finish you want, reliably and repeatably. I followed his instructions to the letter and, even as a newbie, got fabulous results.
Cam
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Now that I've raved about it, I guess I should list some cons of oil-based polyurethane:
If you put too thick a finish on a big-grained wood like oak, it can make it look cheap and plasticky as it follows the deep contour of the pores.
It will yellow significantly. Not a problem for medium to dark woods or stains (it really warmed up my cherry), but if your wood is very light like natural maple, it might not give you the color you want.
It's oil-based, so you have to use mineral spirits or other solvents for thinning and cleanup. I recommend an organic vapor respirator, 'cause sucking too much of those fumes can't be healthy.
It cures very slowly, so it picks up lots of dust. You have to take pains to keep the dust down.
Cam
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On 9 Dec 2003 20:53:42 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Cameron Lee) brought forth from the murky depths:

Luckily, only about 90% of poly users do that. :(

All o/b varnishes give an amber tone. It's one of their nicer facets. Blonde shellac or w/b varnish go well with lighter woods.

Good point. I now buy the more expensive odorless and reduced odor spirits and vent when using them. 5 minutes with an open shop door does it.

Yes, and denib after finishing, as with every finish project.
---------------------------------------------------- Thesaurus: Ancient reptile with excellent vocabulary http://diversify.com Dynamic Website Applications ===================================================
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Howdy Fardin
Varnish (poly is a high test form of varnish) can be problematic in it's application and, for various reasons, not one of my favorite. However if one takes one time with the stuff it is a good finish and one most newbie's start off with.
First rule on deciding what finish to use is to decide how much protection the piece needs. The second rule it to decide what "look" you want. Third rule is to pick one that meets both parameters. Though that sometimes means compromises. If maximum protection is desired, there is no particular look in mind, and one isn't going to rub out the finish, Poly will fit the bill.
Being a beginner I'd have to assume spraying is not an option which leaves out lacquer so, on one side of the protection scale and since you want a hard/clear finish, you have shellac and, on the other, varnish. Max protection is varnish (poly) though both oil based varnish and shellac are both going to impart, to varying degrees, an amber tone to you work. Water based varnish, though it won't look it in the can, will be perfectly clear. Water based also dries faster allowing two coats a day vs. one for an oil based finish. You can tell which is which by looking at the clean up instructions on the can. Oil based products will call for paint thinner/mineral oil and water based, of course, soap and water.
So, yes, poly will be a good finish for your table top.
As to where to get it where you are. Sorry, can't help there. Two notes on brushes though. If it is an oil based you want a natural bristle brush or one of those cheap sponge rubber applicators. If it is a water based finish you will want a synthetic bristle brush.
Good luck.
--
Mike G.
snipped-for-privacy@heirloom-woods.net
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fardin snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (FardinA) wrote in message

David,
Only 5 on that one. Not even CLOSE to the bag limit. Oh well, still a couple of weeks left until the season closes.
-Chris
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In the world of woodworking at home verses woodworking in a real woodworking shop / factory, we all have to live with a lack of money or feasibility to put on our projects a professional spray booth type finish.
So we do the next best thing and apply products which we hope will do nearly the same thing... here's what I do and this took a long time to discover...
First of all, we have to decide on the use the piece in question will get so we will then know what type of finish to apply. With your tabletop you're going to get ' hard use '. Water based polyurathane does the trick. This is the same stuff they put on bowling lanes.
Its also never going to come off with paint remover. It doesn't smell and it drys in a few minutes...so you can apply 7 coats in a half a day...and you wont get dust imbedded in it as with finishes which take over night to dry.
The art is in applying it. Brushing on more than 2 coats leaves brush markes... so I made a pad... a clean old T shirt wadded up and stapled to produce a soft pad on a 2 x 4 inch block of wood. I get the pad soaked in the poly using the top of a paint can as a tray and applying with straight strokes with the grain. You gotta move quickly as water based poly tacts up VERY fast. The first 3 coates get 600 grit sand paper but after that sanding isnt needed anymore. The grand object is to get at least 5 coates on in very thin layers.
High gloss poly shows every blemish in the wood and in your finish job and satin poly shows less blemishes.
I still get high praises after I refinished 5 school library tables with the high gloss poly... I did the job about 6 years ago. It still looks like new furniture.
Anyway, I live in the States and use poly made by a local company... I've had equal success with big name products.
I would say that applying finishes at home with the expectation of a showroom result is not to be expected without gaining the experience from learning such as the years go by. Even an ugly piece of furniture is an object of art with a face lift applied from experinced hands... but good luck to you and you can always let the poly dry, sand it off and start again.
On 9 Dec 2003 15:37:15 -0800, fardin snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (FardinA) wrote:

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