I'm in the process of finishing parts of my dresser project. I'm using
waterlox and have about 4 coats on at this point. It's looking great so
far but it looks absolutely stunning when I brush on a fresh coat of finish.
Once dry, it takes on that dried look. I'm just wondering if there are any
secrets to getting that "wet" look to remain after it dries? I'm not into
a glossy finish but just hoping for a bit more grain detail, if that makes
any sense? When wet I'm getting the grain and colors of the wood in great
detail and I'd like to keep that once it dries. Here are the details of
the project: Cherry sanded to 400 grit. Two coats of waterlox put on,
let sit for a few minutes, wiped off with a rag. Prior to the third coat,
I rubbed it with grey synthetic wool. The third coat got a 600 grit wet
sand. I hit it again with the synthetic wool and then a 4th coat which is
drying now. I plan to go up to 6 coats or so. I'm plenty happy with the
way it looks right now but if there's a trick to getting that last little
ooomph out of it, I'd like to know what that is.
Thanks for the help.
Yeah, I'll do wax on top. I'm not worried about the sheen per se as I can
dictate that with the wax and how I rub it out. I'm more interested in
whether there are any recommendations on keeping the grain as impressive
when wet as when dry.
If you want that wet look that fresh coat of finish applies, you could
be batting up short flies if you are using Waterlox.
I know many here love it, probably because of the ease of
application. The nature and appearance of finish is judged by each
individual, and that boils down to a matter of taste.
So before anyone gets overwound about the virtues of Waterlox, if you
like it, use it.
But by nature for that "wet" glossy, penetrated grain popping (as
opposed to just enhanced) you probably need more than Waterlox can
provide. Their garden variety stuff sold at WoodCraft and some other
places only has about 25% solids. Not bad, but then you allow all
that can penetrate and start to catalyse in a certain time frame and
you take the excess off. Then you repeat. In my mind, it takes about
a 3-4 mil finish to get that "look" of traditional polish. That could
mean about 4,000 coats of Waterlox (at least in my mind!).
They do make a high gloss product which isn't bad, it has somewhere
along the order of 40% solids, which is outstanding. It might be
compatible with the product you are using (if you aren't using this
one already). I don't know about the penetration, light scattering of
the reflective particulates, etc., but the bottom line is that you put
some on.... then you take a bunch off and keep repeating until you get
what you want.
I PERSONALLY don't like wax on projects as it adds another dimension
to the finish. I think in some cases it improves the feel of the
wood, but that is it. Many of the paste waxes today have so many
solvents, carriers, silicones and stearates in it them that you have
to wonder what is left behind a few months later when they are mostly
gone. Then to renew that finish... you wax again and put more gunk on
it that in turn will need to be renewed later.
You need to get that finish where you want it before you do anything
else to it like waxing.
To get that maxed out showing penetration and gloss, you need to build
up your coating and then polish it out. A good quality lacquer (even
a good quality shellac), buillt to the right thickness (6-9 mil) then
rubbed out is like looking at a wet piece of wood under glass.
Not necessarily my taste, but it looks great on certain pieces.
My 0.02., that's all.
Thanks Robert. I'm not looking for glossy, under the glass type of finish.
Was just wondering if there was a way to make Waterlox stay looking like
Waterlox when wet. I get great grain look etc... when it's wet and then it
sort of dulls after it cures. It's still looking great dry and at this
point, I've made my bed so I'll lie in it. I use shellac an awful lot and
except for the fact that it doesn't hold up well, I think it's still my
favorite finish. I use wax, well just cause I suppose. Is there something
else you recommend? I've seen Lemon Oil recommended but maybe I should
just leave it alone after the finish is applied and not mess with a
To my personal knowledge JCC, no. It isn't the nature of that kind of
finish. Like many clear coatings for wood, they do look better when
first applied because of the thickness of the finish. When it dries,
you typically lose 65 - 80% of your thickness, and that's if you don't
I like shellac a lot myself for interior work. If you are worried
about abrasion and water resistance, try some of the harder stuff like
button lac. It is supposed to be much harder and more water
That's the ticket. Get the finish where you want it, and leave it
alone. I think people (including myself) wax because that is like the
cigarette after sex. Just one last bit of enjoyment after a job well
done. (At least on your end anyway!)
The remaining solids, and in some case on cheaper waxes, oils and
silicones leave residue in corners, molding profiles and other profile
features of a piece. They collect dirt, moisture, and sometimes start
to degrade original finishes.
And if you have to repair a piece that has been waxed.... forget it.
I have done a lot of entry way door refinishing, and in the upper end
homes some of them are as nice as a piece of furniture. I have to sand
to bare (or near bare) wood and clean with lacquer thinner before
starting. Some of the waxes that are out there today penetrate small
cuts and nicks so completely that when I spray finish on them, they
will push out the finish away from the nick! After spraying, it
literally looks like I "missed a spot" since the finish won't adhere.
The moral here being that you won't easily fix a gouge in a well waxed
Again for me, I don't wax or oil and don't recommend it. I would only
wax if I was looking for that softer feel that waxing gives wood.
Most of today's finishes are such high quality, even the cheap ones,
that when applied properly they will last well and perform just fine
without any help.
To clean your fine finish, try using a couple or three drops of water
in a pint of distilled water. The distilled water will help you to
keep from leaving mineral streaks when drying, and the ammonia seems
to further that action with a little bit of cleaning added. Do no use
sudsy ammonia as it contains a different surfectant to make it sudsy
that can leave a residue on your finish.
For me, I am a fan of a soft cloth and warm water.
Hope that helps.
Damnit Larry, you probably never heard it before because it is wrong!
Pick, pick, pick.
Rereading my post, I was astonished that someone snuck in while I went
for more coffee and changed super blond to button lac. A serious
brain fart on my part, and it shows how far away I have gotten from
general shellac use.
To me, shellac is pretty useless unless it is dewaxed. There are many
grades availabe, and button lac is certainly about the lowest on the
scale of usefulness.
Thanks for the correction.
I'd never heard "To clean your fine finish, try using a couple or three
drops of water in a pint of distilled water"....fascinating what you can
"learn" on newsgroups".....while your a must read on finishes cleaning might
not be your forte<G>.....Rod
It is the recipe of a antique and furniture repair friend of mine, but
it seems to work. We have extra hard water here as all of our water
comes from a limestone aquifer. The distilled water really helps with
the mineral streaks. I am sure this is only used for the lightest
cleaning to maintain a shine, nothing serious.
I know for a fact that when he cleans something really dirty and grimy
he uses some kind of TSP mixture.
:> I'd never heard "To clean your fine finish, try using a couple or three:> drops of water in a pint of distilled water"....fascinating what you can:> "learn" on newsgroups".....while your a must read on finishes cleaning might:> not be your forte<G>.....Rod- Hide quoted text -
: It is the recipe of a antique and furniture repair friend of mine, but
: it seems to work. We have extra hard water here as all of our water
: comes from a limestone aquifer. The distilled water really helps with
: the mineral streaks. I am sure this is only used for the lightest
: cleaning to maintain a shine, nothing serious.
So, what do you use to thin your solution of water in water, if it comes out too
-- Andy Barss
I never take a chance with something as serious as light cleaning. I
only use triple rectified double filtered evaporated ph balanced
double distilled super full race water.....
available from the grocery store. The .69 per gallon is a bit to
chew off at once, but you have to consider the high cost of product
consistency, and I figure it will make about 4 batches, so I can live
If you're using Waterlox Original (red can), be aware that higher sheens
are available via Waterlox Original High Gloss (in the green can).
Most Waterlox dealers sell sample packets. You can try wiping a coat of
the green on and see if you like the higher gloss. If the gloss is too
high, you can rub it down with steel wool or a synthetic pad and wax.
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