Waterlox Application

I went to a (slightly unusual*) Woodcraft store on Saturday and bought, among other things, a can of Waterlox. I made a few quick test pieces and applied some of the Waterlox without any attempt to read up on how to do it.
The three test pieces were bits of scrap I had been using to practice using a plane. All had been brown and wrinkled with age, but were now clean and pretty smooth. Two were pine (or something like pine), the first a pretty nice piece of 2x2 with straight grain, the other a short length of common 2x4 with knots in it. The third piece was oak.
I applied the Waterlox fairly liberally with a foam brush and didn't fuss over it too much. I put the pieces outside while I worked on other things. ("outside" would probably be too dusty for a real project)
I came back to the pieces the next day. The Waterlox appeared to have absorbed unevenly, which I imagine is to be expected. It tended to sit on top of the darker parts of the grain and sink in more in the lighter areas. This was especially true of the oak piece.
The fellow at the store* had said that there is no need to steel wool in-between coats, so I decided to put on a couple more and see what happened.
I'm up to three coats now, and I'm wondering what the next step might be. I think it's likely that it will be to "take three steps back and do it the right way", but I'd be interested to hear what the good folks here think. The variable "height" and gloss of the finish on the grain is less pronounced now, but still there. Maybe I let it cure awhile and steel wool it?
Greg Guarino
* The "store" is the Woodworkers' Club of Norwalk Connecticut, which apparently rents out time in their shop for very reasonable rates. It's an hour from home, but I may just avail myself of their (larger) tools for some future project. The salespeople all seem to be woodworkers, so I took the minor bit of "advice" I got to be reliable.
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The growth rings in wood absorb finishes at different rates. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dendrochronology#Growth_rings
Your oak was probably red oak and it is a ring porous wood. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood#Earlywood_and_latewood_in_ring-porous_woods
R
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wrote:

I use it as a _wipe-on_ finish, so that surprises me. ;)

First it seals, then it starts building. Gloss evens out once you've finished sealing it and it begins to build. That must have been one dry lot of wood!

That's amazing to me that it hasn't filled in with 3 thick, painted on coats. Did you have a lot of tearout with the planes?

If it feels rough and coarse, with grainy splinters, do let it cure for awhile and only then use some 320grit sandpaper on it. Steel wool will just get caught in the splinters, so save that for smoothing finished wood.

That sounds like a good connection for you, Greg. Enjoy!
-- One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love. -- Sophocles
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On 11/7/2011 1:37 PM, Larry Jaques wrote:

I applied it in about as casual a fashion as you can imagine. The third coat may not have been as "liberal". Would applying it with a pad or rag have made a difference?

Does it take more than one coat to "seal" it if the wood is dry? The oak is of indeterminate age, somewhere between 20 and 40 years. I had picked a particularly crusty piece to see what a plane might do for it. A few strokes had it down to some nice looking wood that would have been difficult to distinguish from new, at least for me.

No. The oak piece had nice straight grain, enabling even a novice like me to do a decent job.

How much time is "awhile"?

I have to dream up a project large enough to need those tools, but small enough to allow me to carry the pieces in my car. I do have ideas though. It looks pretty cool. They have one or more of all the larger woodworking machines in a 5000 sq. ft. shop, plus a bunch of workbenches, clamps, etc. Depending on how many hours you buy on a card (the minimum is 5), the rate starts at $20/hr. and goes down. An unlimited membership is a little less than a thousand a year.
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