Steel Wool vs.Sandpaper

Let the discussion begin!
First coat of Minwax Wipe-On Poly, Clear Satin has been applied to poplar.
To prepare for the next coat, would you use 0000 steel wool, 400 grit sandpaper or something else?
Thanks.
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I'll be interested to see what opinions people have to this question.
I use sandpaper for everything except the last coat.
John
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On 7/30/2015 8:38 AM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

Let me be the first to give you some belated and unhelpful advice: you probably should have prefinished the parts before assembly. My experience is limited, but I find it to be a great deal easier, and you don't get build-up in the corners. I don't need to worry as much about glue squeeze-out either with prefinished surfaces.
Having said that, I disregarded my own advice a ways back. I simply couldn't resist putting together the "ladder" sides of two shelf units I made:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/gdguarino/17331052990/in/album-72157644207411490/lightbox/
My "slats" are further apart than yours, but it was still a pain to get into all of those recesses. I don't think I'll make that mistake again. I think I may have used a block of wood with a piece of sandpaper glued to two sides, like these, but with finer grit:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/gdguarino/19460141948/in/photostream/lightbox/
I did prefinish the rest of the parts, which required some cleverness to array them all so they could dry without touching anything:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/gdguarino/15801761882/in/album-72157644207411490/lightbox/
And of course, I had to mask the mating areas.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/gdguarino/15786631007/in/album-72157644207411490/
I have used sandpaper, steel wool and even those scotch-brite style pads between coats of finish. They all seemed to work OK, but finishing is still a mystery to me, so I'll be interested to see what responses you get.
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On Thursday, July 30, 2015 at 10:50:43 AM UTC-4, Greg Guarino wrote:

Note: I can't access your images at this time, but I will look at them later.
Thanks for the suggestion of finishing the parts before assembly. I had considered that approach and consciously chose not to employ it.
I don't really have enough dedicated space to easily pre-finish 19 slats and 2 shelves. I thought about different methods of standing them up, lying them down, hanging them, etc. It would just not be convenient, certainly more inconvenient than the issues related to finishing this particular project after assembly.
That said, even if I *had* finished them prior to assembly, I would still have the same question after the first coat:
Steel wool vs. sandpaper

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Are these the ones you're talking about? (Amazon.com product link shortened) Purpose/dp/B0002SQYF0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid38269156&sr=8-1&keywords3M+burgandy+pad
No fibers would be nice when I'm working with Shellac.
Puckdropper
--
Make it to fit, don't make it fit.

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DerbyDad03 wrote:

Regardless of what you use, it need not be that fine; nor do you need to thoroughly sand all the nooks and crannies. All you are doing is scuffing to help the next coat adhere. And you need not have done that had you applied all but the last coat at the same time but 2-8 hours apart depending upon how thick the coats were. And with wipe on, they aren't going to be very thick.
FWIW, whenever I clear coat I don't sand between coats (unless there is something horrid like a bristle, gob of sawdust, etc. and those I generally shave off with a chisel or razor blade). With lacquer/shellac there is no point in doing so; with poly, no need if you recoat soon enough; maybe with alkyd, been so long since I used it I don't recall.
Now, for the last coat with whatever I do sand, getting the surface to the point I want it, and then apply a very thin last coat.
The main reasons I use 0000 steel wool (when I use it)are to kill shine and/orbecause of irregular surfaces and only on the final coat. Usually followed by paste wax and buffing.
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On Thursday, July 30, 2015 at 4:10:33 PM UTC-4, dadiOH wrote:

...and knocking down the grain raised by the first coat. There definitely was that, especially on the routed edges and end grain of the slats.

That's probably true, but my schedule doesn't allow me to put the second coat on 2-8 hours after the first. I get a few hours in the shop in the evening, so it's typically multiples of 24 hours between coats.

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"DerbyDad03" wrote in message
Let the discussion begin!
First coat of Minwax Wipe-On Poly, Clear Satin has been applied to poplar.
To prepare for the next coat, would you use 0000 steel wool, 400 grit sandpaper or something else?
Thanks.
Because most of my work is on boats in salt-water environments I wouldn't go near a piece of steel wool.
I've been using red 3M abrasive pads between coats of *varnish* for about a million years, to give the coat some tooth and leave a dull surface so that I can tell where I'm leaving holidays during recoating, and to knock off dust flecks and so forth. The exception would be where I had some droops or significant brush marks in a coat, and I'd go with sandpaper in 220 or so to knock down the high spots.
If I'm trying to fill the grain, I usually sand between coats so that I can tell how well I'm getting it filled, using 320 or 220.
Wipe-on poly applies a lot thinner than the varnish that I ordinarily use, so I'd just use the 3M pads. But over the first coat of wipe-on poly on poplar? I'd just give it a quick wipe with a 3M pad to knock down the raised grain and go for it. Maybe after the third coat or so I'd start thinking about a bit of sandpaper to level it.
Tom
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On 7/30/2015 7:38 AM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

Do some varnishes still request this step between coats? I quit doing that around 1990.
Steel wool will rust if you use a water based poly and do not get every speck of it off.
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On Thursday, July 30, 2015 at 4:14:59 PM UTC-7, Leon wrote:

Before plastic scrub pads, bronze wool was the solution to that. It's still available, as a marine specialty item.
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Actually I saw the bronze wool at Woodcraft, Luberon brand IIRC.
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"Leon" wrote:

-------------------------------------------------------------- Definitely a marine item.
West Marine, Defender, and Jamestown Distributors are all stocking chandleries.
Must admit that as usual, West Marine is not competitive.
Lew
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On 7/30/2015 10:37 PM, Lew Hodgett wrote:

(Amazon.com product link shortened)
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On 7/30/2015 7:38 AM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

Most of the time, nothing.
If there is any need whatsoever, a bit of brown paper from a grocery bag works as well as anything IME.
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On Friday, July 31, 2015 at 9:47:55 AM UTC-4, Swingman wrote:

I've heard of that method.
It's too late for me to try it, but I don't think a paper bag would have knocked down the grain that was raised on the slats after the first coat of WOP. The 3M "between coats" pad did a really good job.
I think I'll try the paper bag trick on some scrap pieces to see how it works. I've still got that split slat to play with. ;-)
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On 7/31/2015 10:52 AM, DerbyDad03 wrote:

The bag does not work on splinters. ;~) But those easy to knock down rough spots, that you can feel, disappear and the longer you wait the better, several days. Paper is like a very fine grit sand paper that is typically used to polish. I typically wrap a piece of used printer paper around a block of wood and lightly rub the surface.
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