When to stop applying Waterlox???

I just wiped a third coat on all the major subassemblies and parts of a bed I have built and it will dry until tomorrow afternoon. Directions on the can recommend 3 or 4 coats with sanding between coats optional. I Used 0000 steel wool between wiped on coats. The steel wool seemed to remove a good deal of the finish to me but it may just have been my inexperience. After this third coat dried I was considering assembling all the parts and gluing up and then waxing the whole shebang. Patience is not one of my virtues. However, if additional application will make a noticeable difference I will continue applying before assembly (lots of slats involved so it's easier to do before final assembly) It should not get a lot of wear. The bed is red oak with an Olympic American Cherry stain used mainly to help even out the color variations in the wood and did not darken it appreciably. I realize how the bed looks is a personal preference and I woulde say it looks okay if not spectacular, but was just wondering if additional coats would make for a notably better finish. If additional coats are called for should I continue to rub each coat out with steel wool? Also, is the proper application method merely to wipe the Waterlox on or should it be rubbed in hard by applying pressure during the process? Thanks for all for the previous helpful info many of you have provided on finishing. Mike in Arkansas
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3 coats should be enough. I never rub the finish in hard. Steel wool between coats. Maybe some 600 grit after the first. I'd say it's time to wax.
Just my opinion -- there's lots of folks that are lots better at finishing than me, also an impatient type.
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calmly ranted:

"Sanding between coats" means taking our hand, lightly laying it on the 320 or 400 grit paper, and making a couple passes. We're supposed to be denibbing here, Mikey, not removing wood and finish. Did the steel wool remove any of the stain? If so, start over.

I hope you've taped and masked off any parts which will receive glue. If not, you're SOL.

Is the finish smooth and even in gloss? If so, you have enough finish now. If not, add another coat. Wiping coats are very thin, about half or 1/3 that of a brushed coat. If you are deglossing, go ahead and try the process below.

No, but if you want to degloss the final finish, use 0000 steel wool with paste wax and lightly rub it out. Again, you're trying not to remove finish here. Wait 15 minutes and buff the dried wax off with a soft cloth. Do one more coat with a soft cloth instead of the wool, wait 15, and buff. You're done! I wait a few days after the last coat of Waterlox before waxing so I'm sure it has hardened and cured well.

Waterlox is an oil finish which soaks into bare wood. Once if fills the pores and soaks into the outer surface, the varnish and tung oil in it starts building up as a coating. Easy rubbing is all that's necessary both for application and rubbing out.
Good luck!
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Never Enough and Larry, thanks for the feedback. It's very comforting getting info from people with experience. Kind of isolated here and this group is a great asset. I did mask the few remaining areas to receive glue so though I am probably SOL it's not because of that :) I think I'll assemble then apply one more coat of Waterlox. Wax after that with maybe a little black artist color in the wax to enhance the grain a bit. Thanks again Mike in Arkansas
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Try shoe polish, rather than artist color, to darken the wax. Saw that in a FWW article from about 5 years ago...
Or spend $15 for a pound of tinted Briwax that will take you three generations to go through.
Patriarch, another Waterlox fan
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When I recently used Waterlox original, it seemed to me that it was taking quite a few coats of finish to get much of a build ... and up until about the third coat it was looking visibly nonuniform. I was applying the coats on a series of five game boxes I made out of combinations of curly maple, cherry, walnut, and mahogany.

I brushed it on heavy for the first coat, let it soak a bit, and then wiped off the excess. Subsequent coats were usually wiped on thinly, preceded with a light buff (like 400 grit or fine synthetic pad, I don't use steel wool).
I don't pretend to be a pro, but that's how it worked for me anyway.
Cheers, Nate
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Patriarch, thanks for the tip and Nate for relaying your experience. Mike in Arkansas
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