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Rubbing Out/Polishing an Oil-Based Polyurethane

  • Posts: 40

chaplaindoug created the topic: Rubbing Out/Polishing an Oil-Based Polyurethane

Colin et al:

This is your OCD woodworker needing help again. I just refinished a large rustic table for a customer (a table I sold him and he damaged by putting a leaky bucket of Oxi-clean on it overnight.) It was originally a water-based MinWax matte finish and looked great. He wanted more protection, so after stripping and sanding I put on an oil-based MinWax satin (they did not have oil-based matte I am told).

Any how. The oil-based satin has given me fits. So much so that I put three coats on and then stripped it back down, sanded, and started again because it was very unacceptable to me. I just finished putting on three coats. It is better. But it has some blems where there was thicker poly, leaving shiny spots. I removed the shine by lightly hitting the shiny spots with 0000 steel wool. However, that now leaves duller areas that contrast with the rest of the top! Oy vay!

SO. Can I fix this by applying some king of polish that will produce a uniform appearance (hopefully reducing the satin to a matte)? if so, how long should I wait until I polish? Also, what polish and polishing steps would you recommend? It is a red oak table with some graininess showing (hence not a perfectly flat surface).

You've saved me before. Hope you can help now. God bless.
  • Posts: 486

colin replied the topic: Rubbing Out/Polishing an Oil-Based Polyurethane

Hi Doug ... gee, do you happen to have any easy questions ;)
OK, first of all applying a wax is probably not going to solve your problems, most waxes will actually make the top more glossy, and anyway, they really don't last very well. The only possible exception is something called a "cut wax" used for taking oxidized finish off car paint. I have never tried it on furniture so you would be on your own for this.
So ... here's the deal with almost every satin finish. In many cases the way they get satin (or matte) finish is by dumping fine ground sand into the can of varinish (or whatever). You can verify this by opening any matte of satin can that has been sitting for a number of days or weeks and stir the bottom with a stick then look at it. That globby stuff in the bottom is sand and in order for the finish to work properly it needs to be stirred THOROUGHLY. That sand needs to mixed into the liquid finish because that is what gives it dull look. If it is not mixed thoroughly you will get some areas that are dull and others that are shiny.

I you don't mix it at all, there is a good chance the whole thing will be shiny because all the sand may have sunk to the bottom.

What I would try first of all, is to give your table a fine sanding with 00000 steel wool, DO NOT sand hard, just barely lift the shine off. Give the surface an GOOD tack cloth cleaning, STIR your MinWax finish VERY well, and give one final finish. My bet is that will fix it for you ... keep your fingers crossed


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