I have a coffee table I sanded to bare wood. I applied water-based poly
with a brush. I get these puddles or orange peel looking "things" (see
links. I figure it might be the brush so I switch to a foam brush -
same result (yes, I sanded first).
Curious though, the sides are nice and smooth as I expected.
I diluted the poly about 10%. Am I putting it on too thick? What's
happening? The wood was smooth before applying. The poly is new. How
can I salvage what I have done?
If it were an oil finish and you've used a furniture polish containing
silicone you may be experiencing "fish-eye" caused by silicone
contamination. If that is the case the new finish would have to be
removed and a barrier coat of shellac applied before the poly is applied.
You don't have your wood sanded down smooth enough. The secret to any
finish - any finish, is in the preparation. I can see the grain in your
poly and that's not good. Sand your piece down until the ridges disappear.
Use the ridges as your guide coat, which is to say that you keep sanding
until you have no shiney spots left. The shiney spots will be your low
points and additional coats of poly will not adhere to them unless they get
scruffed. Take the piece down until it is all perfectly flat and perfectly
even in its lack of luster. Then, apply another coat of poly.
If you want to be extra safe, after you sand it down, apply a coat or two or
three of shellac and then apply your poly.
We use water based finishes almost exclusively in our shop. So this is based
on my experience and what I see in your pictures.
I think you are getting an oil/water reaction to oil left in the wood. You
are going to have to completely remove the new finish. Then finish sand and
apply a coat of shellac. You can then proceed with your water based finish.
The shellac should be a good buffer between the two. Try a test piece first
to see if shellac and your water based are compatible.
If his oil based finish (original), as we are guessing it to possibly be, is
older than a few weeks to a couple of months old, then there should be no
reaction between oil and water base. Actually, it should be reaction free
in less time than that, but I'm taking the tail between the legs, utlra
conservative approach to this. Once the finish is cured, there is no oil
left to react with a water based finish.
Some more details:
* Table is 5+ years old. The old finish (unknown) was flaking, off to
* The table is not solid wood but veneer.
* Wife says no polish.
* I sanded using 80, 150, 220
* Does behave as if oil present when I apply poly.
* I didn't want to buy a new coffee table and figured I'd just
resurface this one. The rest of the table (legs) is fine. At this
point, it's not worth the time to restrip. Can I simply sand smooth and
coat with shellac or oil-based poly?
BTW, thanks for all the help!
I've read the other replies but one possibility has not been mentioned. You
didn't say what your sanding schedule was or how you did it. Normally, you
would start with a coarse enough grit to remove the old finish then work on
up thru 100, 150 and 220 - then stop. If you went on up to higher grits,
there's a chance that you have burnished the wood by sanding to hard and to
long so there's no "tooth" left for the finish to grab on to. You get about
the same reaction - if it can't adhere - it puddles. If this is the case -
start sanding again and as other's have stated - it's time for some shellac.
Scrape and sand that horrible mess off. I wouldn't even try to recoat it.
What finish was on the piece before is less important than others think. If
it's cured solid enough to get some tooth, the stuff should stick. There
are a lot of people, however, who like "lemon oil" and such which contain
non-curing oils like mineral oil to temporarily brighten the finish. Or use
those "swiffer" things to pick up the dust. Back to oil and water not
mixing. Could be your problem, though it appears you're getting the finish
to adhere, just unevenly.
Says surface tension within the film, not adhesion to the surface, to me.
Wonder about the dilution. Is that recommended? Not a current waterbase
user, but back when I tried, it seems to me you used some sort of a
flattening agent when you diluted to keep the emulsion consistent. Sort of
goes along with the vertical surface stuff where gravity helps mix being
good. At the least, use demineralized rather than tap water.
I'd test the existing poly on a vertical and horizontal surface of prepared
scrap to see if you need to scrap it. Something you can do as you try and
get that mess off the tabletop.
Airborne oil can do things like that. Never spray silicone or lubricants
within 100 yards of a product you are going to paint or finish. Never
use a rag that may have been contaminated, and remember that the oils
from your fingers can contaminate.
I sanded the table until it was smooth again (not to the bare wood) and
coated with Minwax oil-based poly. That seems to have done the trick.
Seems something was affecting the water-based poly. Thanks all for the
Thanks for the feedback. It's always good to get this kind of follow up and
to know that suggestions either worked or didn't. That goes a long way
toward culling out ideas that seem like they might work, and leaving behind
some good workable ideas.
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