I am scrambling for a location to apply (wipe on) poly to my
small project. This is my first time around on this.
The bench or shop where I made the project is surely a terrible
candidate. How about a freshly lined gargage can or cardboard box,
lying on it's side, with a stand inside? Obviously, I'm desperate! : )
BTW, my project is a 12" honing strop including a handle, in Hard Maple,
and it's the first project off of my new workbench. It's a good learning
opportunity and I would like it to make a good impression on my
woodcarving friends (at least one of which I'm trying to "sell" on
woodworking). Considering what the piece looks like now, about 3 hours
after I cut it off of my bandsaw (with wavy cuts), I feel fortunate (or
lucky) that it has come out as well as it did! That was the first time I
used my bandsaw on a project too.
P.S. While I'm writing, please allow me to ask another question. Should
any finish of any sort be applied to my newly made workbench (I'm
reminded of Scotch-Guard that people apply to their furniture)? I'm
tempted to just use it as-is, but my sister asked me to send her a
picture after I painted it! Ha!
P.S.S Does anyone else think Tommy Mac (on his TV show) gets his
fingers too close to his table saw blade? I don't even have a table saw
and I wouldn't be as cavalier! : )
I can not comment on most of your question, but I have an opinion on the
About 15 years ago I built a work bench out of White wood 2X4 and
plywood. The 2X4 joints are all half lapped, and the plywood top is
rabbeted into the 2X4 that create the perimeter of the top.
I varnish the whole thing, and I am completely satisfied with the
results. Today after all of these years the workbench looks nearly as
good as it did when I finished it. If build an new one or refinish this
one I word go the varnish route
Any reasonably clean area it good enough for finishing your project.
If you do think there may be a dust issue, like the wind blowing dust
onto the area, use the garden hose, on fine mist setting, and spray a
small area to keep the dust down and from drifting near the work area.
Thank you very much. I printed off a procedure that is a little more
complicated (for instance, including sanding with 320 grit or steel wool
after the 2nd coat), but your confidence makes me optimistic!
I bought a tack rag anyway!
Actually, when I first started reading about the poly application--it
made me consider dispensing with the whole idea of finishing it at all,
but then I realized that doing that would be compromising both my
project and myself (my opportunity to get a useful finishing experience).
Had same problem refinishing a roll-top desk.
Used approx 50-50 mix of regular poly and
mineral spirits. It's become my regular recipe
for poly. Flows easily, gets into cracks and
corners, and dries fast. Since it's thinner, you
use more coats, but it still seems quicker
and you don't have to worry so much that it's
truly dry when sanding. Brush or wipe, but
lint-free cloth is essential if wiping.
Sanding is more like a gentle dusting off.
What's so bad about it? A morton building with a dirt floor and open door
would be a terrible place, but the garage with concrete floor not so much.
Just don't go making a bunch of sawdust or do a bunch of cleaning with the
I applied shellac smoothed with steel wool and wax to mine. It made the
top smooth and sorta slick, which is good for a table saw infeed table but
not necessarily good for a work bench.
The nice thing about shop furniture is that it doesn't need a finish. The
other nice thing is that you won't enjoy it less if the finish is done
Yes, I weighed the pros and cons of finishing the bench after reading
about BLO and decided to just leave well enough alone for the time
being. It's not like I have some fine hardwood I wish to highlight.
Concerning the small project I am going to finish: This IS some drywall
dust in my shop, since some things are "under construction". I guess I
just got a little paranoid after reading the writings of people who were
uptight about the whole process (I too have gotten dust in my varnish
before, under better conditions than I have now). Having had a few more
hours to think about it however, my process will be better--I will tape
up the parts I don't want to get finish on and use duck tape to bound my
piece to a short length of EMT, or whatever else is handy. I'd pound
that EMT into the ground like a stake but we have a lot of low flying
birds in the area--and/or someone might tell me that doing so violates
the NEC! ; )
I learned plenty about finishes today. But, I left some for another day.
Don't worry about it, Bill. Dust is inevitable. You can't prevent it. Instead,
you cope with it.
Once you have the project smooth enough to finish (by sanding, planing,
whatever), wipe it down with a dry microfiber cloth to remove dust from the
apply your first coat of wipe-on poly. Wait for it to dry, then sand the surface
sandpaper. Wipe again with the microfiber cloth, and apply another coat. Repeat.
again, using 600-grit this time. Repeat once more, using either 600- or
800-grit. When dry,
sand with 1000-grit or finer (available at nearly any auto parts store), and
wipe with the
microfiber cloth. You're done, and the surface will feel like glass.
Thanks Doug. I assume that T-shirt material qualify as "microfiber"
cloth. I've got a tack rag too. I was going to rub with a rag with
denatured alcohol to clean out the pores of the wood before the first coat.
While we're on this topic, the state of my knowledge is that 320, say,
Aluminum Oxide sand paper (designed for wood) is similarly abrasive to
320 grit Silicon Carbide ("wet or dry"), except the later is designed
for metal. I know the Aluminum Oxide breaks down as you use it, helping
to keep the paper free of dust. I might guess I might actually want to
use water, if I was following the procedure Doug outlined, just to keep
the paper usable. Do I need to correct any of this?
A follow up to my gel varnish suggestion....
I just came in from the shop. I applied Old Masters Gel Varnish to the
top, bottom, and front edge of 16 shelves and to the fronts of 6 cabinet
After applying the varnish to one side I immediately flipped them over
on the fresh surface to do the other side, one at a time. When finished
with each I picked them up with no worry of dust or prints and stood
them on end with a fan blowing on them.
That took about 2.5 hours.
I know you already have your varnish but go buy a can of Old Masters and
skip all the preparation that goes with liquid varnishes. BTY no
scuffing between coats either.
Use sparingly, I used 1/2 quart. Subsequent coats will take much less.
LOL I for got to mention that I gave ease surface a "double" wipe down
with t-shirt tags to remove excess varnish but that only to a few
moments. I saw 99 in the shop but with the fan blosing directly on me I
was able to do all the pieces non stop in about 2.5 hours. Just checked
their drying progress and the first ones are ready to be recoated.
Yes! that will happen if the fan is plowing on the surface, apply less,
a smaller section and wipe down immediately. The clue here is if the
first wiping rag is grabby you need to work smaller sections. Wait 2~5
minutes for the second wipe down with another clean rag. Stains are a
little trickier to get a consistent color coverage but clear varnish is
a snap. My neighbor is buying the current book cases and I showed her
how simple the varnish was to apply, her jaw hit the floor.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.