I once finished a wood-framed futon with oil-based stain and Minwax
oil-based polyurethane. Not knowing any better, I just brushed on 4
coats of the poly without sanding in between. However, several years
later it still looks great, despite daily use and hundreds of soggy
beverages being left on the wood armrests.
I'm going to finish a new coffee table the same way this weekend.
Assuming I keep the area free of dust and bubble-free, can I just skip
the sanding part?
What are the consequences of avoiding the sanding step in between
coats of polyurethane?
You might be able to skip sanding on the later coats but I have found that the
first coat will always be full of microbubbles (released as the wood seals)
that need to be knocked down. Once you get set up with your sander it is just
as easy to sand between all coats tho. It does give you a smoother finish. I
use my RO sander and just knock the glaze down. It is a couple of minutes that
makes a lot of difference..
wow, I've not been able to sand between coats with a powered
sander without going through the finish at some spots. I
use 220 and 320 for inter-coat sanding now. You must have
that "magic touch". I generally use waterborne finishes
Depending on how dry you allow the poly to get it should not be a real issue
on most pieces if you re-apply a cost while the poly is still somewhat
tacky. If it's allow to dry, you should wait 36 hours before sanding and
adding additional coats.
However, in my experience, a coffee table top needs to have a very deep
gloss and be quite smooth. I would hand rub the first two coats of Minwax
(oil-based polyurethane), then with progressively finer paper coupled with
progressively harder sanding blocks, sanding between thoroughly dried coats,
I would finish by wet sanding with 600 paper and mineral sprits and polish.
Have fun, be patient and you will be rewarded with an incredibly smooth,
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