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barnold4_gw

Polyurethane over oil based stain?

barnold4
9 years ago

We've just stained a built in bookcase with Old Masters Wiping Stain (it's oil based). We need something to protect it and give it a shine. Ben Moore paint store recommended polyurethane.

Is polyurethane the best way to go?

Will the oil based Minwax polyurethane we have work or do we need to buy compatible brands like the Ben Moore paint store said? They don't sell Minwax and couldn't explain to me why it wouldn't be compatible or what negative effects it might have.

Comments (13)

  • handymac
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Water based over oil stain is fine---but poly is not the best finish, IMHO. Non poly varnish is better. Can be spot repaired, does not look like plastic( poly is a form of plastic).

    The stain has to be fully dry and the surfaces cleaned of all stain residue.

    Ace Hardware or Sherwin Williams both have a non poly varnish I have used with good results.

  • klem1
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Any brand poly will work but the very best finish is the one reccomended on the can of stain that you used. Why did you apply stain then ask what to top coat with?

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  • klem1
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    •Posted by rwiegand on Thu, May 29, 14 at 8:30

    "It's very unlikely that the "best" finish is the one recommended on the can. The can will pretty much only recommend the finish made by the manufacturer of the stain. "Best" is also very much a function of intended use and desired appearance-- sometimes it is French polish, other times an industrial-strength catalyzed finish. "

    It's also "very unlikly" the op understands half what you are talking about or they wouldn't ask such simple question. My response was more reccomenging the op take time to read the instructions before starting a project in the future. Those are some pretty advanced finishing proceedures you are suggesting rwiegand,not something for a novice to cut their teeth on. Personaly,when a novice asks me how best to finish raw wood I direct them to Min-Wax's web site.
    If they are willing to spend the time required for a decent finish,they should be willing to spend time reading what the experts have to say. Usualy the online experts chime in saying what a sorry product Min-wax is and suggest better products. Trouble is better products require WAY MORE EXPERIENCE to apply. The sad truth about asking advice on the net is that it usually winds up like this thread. First the op asks a question and obivously never reads the replys because that's the last heard of him. Were the op to wander back by at this point,what is he to do? Go out to buy an expensive 2 part finish? Again fail to read instructions before applying it with help from the kids,non wearing supplyed air? Come back here asking how to french polish the 2 part product? He had some left over and used it to freshen up the dining table and chairs and want's to know (A) Why the finish wrinkled (B) How to fix it.And btw,his neighbor and cps are fileing a civl lawsuit and criminal charges over makeing the kids sick.
    IMHO rwiegand,you sound qulifyed to teach a 2 week class on introduction to finishing but you are doing no favors by posting a response sprinkled with procedures that can result in amutures getting hung up in their long underwear.

  • rwiegand
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Well perhaps. A couple brushed on coats of Minwax poly and a rubdown with 0000 steel wool (which is what I was trying to suggest, perhaps unsuccessfully) doesn't seem like rocket science to me, but perhaps you're right.

    However, I also would say that it was by reading about procedures far more complex than I knew how to execute and trying them, reading more, and trying again that I taught myself to become a halfway competent woodworker. For better or worse my teachers have been those writing in the old rec.woodworking, the magazines, books, and now web sites like this.

    Knowing the possibility of achieving a better outcome is, I think, one of the keys to growing and developing one's skills. Perhaps this OP will never read our responses or care, but nothing on the internet goes away so my hope in trying to suggest an alternative that I've found to yield very nice success with readily available materials is that someone, some time, will give it a try and experience similar pleasure in producing something better than what they could do before. I've found very experienced, very good woodworkers who won't touch poly because it "looks like plastic" who have never realized that the finish as brushed on is not the end of the game and can be dramatically improved to a tough finish that looks and feels as good as something much more difficult and exotic with only a modest amount of extra effort.

  • mdln
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    thanks rwiegand for some practical advice, it is very much appreciated.

  • barnold4
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'm sorry for not responding sooner--I didn't get any of the replies by email except the last one. I'll be checking back regularly from now on. I appreciate the advice because I'm definitely a novice. I did read the instructions--they "recommend Old Masters clear finish but can be topped with most clears." I didn't find that too helpful.

    I don't mind taking the time to read what experts have to say but as a novice, I was having trouble finding what I was looking for. I talked to the local paint store people also and bought an oil based poly.

    I'll try 2-3 thin even coats as rwiegand suggested. Do I dare risk asking if buffing out is the same as rubbing out with 0000 steel wool? Our wood walls have a shine anyway so not sure if I'll need to make it matte but I don't want it to look like plastic either, of course.

  • rwiegand
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    For any finishing procedure it is best to practice the entire process so that you aren't surprised at the end. (I turned a whole maple floor pumpkin orange one time, recovering from that taught a lifelong lesson). Where you don't have a piece of wood that was used in the project you can either use something similar, or an out-of sight part of your bookshelf-- like the bottom or the underneath side of the bottom shelf. Color especially will change as you go through the different finishing steps.

    Set up a space with good ventilation, as little dust as possible, and excellent, very bright lighting from several sides, with strong sidelighting to allow you to see the surface in detail.

    Prior to staining, sand to P150-P220 grit using a random orbit sander. (At least P220 if hand sanding) Don't skip any grits and sand until the scratches from the previous grit disappear, they will never go away later, and will pop up like a sore thumb when you apply finish. Vacuum the surface with a brush head and then use a tack rag (either a traditional sticky one of a microfiber rag) to get all the dust you can.

    Stain, if you need to. I prefer using trans-tint dyes in denatured alcohol, but some people (I'm not one of them) have good success with oil stains.

    Very lightly hand sand with P320 to knock off any nits. Repeat with the tack rag.

    Apply a coat of gloss oil-base polyurethane from the can. Use either a good natural bristle brush (Purdy or Wooster make OK ones at $15-20 for a 2-1/2" brush.) Don't mess with cheap brushes, they are pure frustration. Throwaway foam brushes also work well with poly, and may well be your best choice. Buy several and throw them away rather than trying to clean them for re-use. Work quickly to get finish onto a surface, then finish with very light strokes as long as possible with the grain of the board (called "tipping off"). Then stop, don't mess with it any more. Watch for sags ad drips, and catch them before the finish starts to set up. They greatly complicate the rest of the process.

    Allow the finish to dry thoroughly. Usually several days. You want it to come off as dust when you sand, not globs of glue on your sanding pad. Sand with P220-280 using a ROS, or 320 by hand. Sand until most of your brush marks are gone, nits are removed and the surface is smooth. Do not sand through your stain! Vacuum and tack off your work, and thoroughly clean your work area, then tack off you project again.

    Apply another coat of clear gloss finish. Allow to dry thoroughly again. Most woods take 3 coats to give a good surface. If you have a good uniform surface you can stop there, otherwise proceed to a third coat. Sand by hand with P320 to take off the nits. This is your "money coat", so become fanatical about dust control and removal. After tacking I will also use a microfiber rag dampened with mineral spirits or denatured alcohol to remove the last of the dust.

    Apply a third coat of finish. Use gloss if that's what you are aiming for, use a semi-gloss or matte poly if you are shooting for that. The more matte finishes are gloss poly with small particles added to break up the light. They also, to a small extent, obscure the wood. I prefer to use only gloss and then buff to the desired finish level.

    Allow to dry. If you are happy with what you see you are done.

    I like to rub out these finishes to give them a smoother more pleasing surface. How much you do is a function of where you want the finish to end up. Getting to a high gloss is a lot of work, and I'm not going to get into that here.

    Allow the finish to dry completely-- 2-3 weeks at least in most cases, a couple of months is better. (So this is not good as a production method, better suited for weekend warriors) It won't work if the finish is still sticky at all.

    The idea is to burnish the surface. I start with 0000 steel wool and rub down the entire surface. Strokes with the grain are preferred, you will see shiny spots around the dust motes you missed, rub until these are all gone. Change pads as the surface fills, or re-fold to expose fresh steel wool. The finish should come off as a tiny bit of very fine white dust as you're doing this. You will notice that the surface feels much nicer than it did before. If you'd like a bit more shine you can wax the surface. Do not use grocery store furniture polish. There are a variety of products from woodworking supply places or Amazon that are primarily carnauba wax, softened with beeswax and solvent. Trewax and Briwax are two good brands. Run don't walk from products that don't tell you what's in them, promise miracles, or have any form of silicone. Antique cans of Simonize car wax are also good! Apply the wax to the whole piece then buff with a clean soft cloth (old t shirt or flannel). You will work up a sweat in this process, these are not "instant gratification" products. Once done you are finished and your project will stand up for years of use and abuse.

    Hope this helps. It's a lot of work and takes a long time, but the results are pretty decent and it's very satisfying.

    This post was edited by rwiegand on Mon, Jun 2, 14 at 10:09

  • barnold4
    Original Author
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    This is great! Thanks so much, rwiegand!

  • RocksAndRoses
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thank you for your reply, rwiegand. I was going to ask a similar newbie question but searched the forum assuming that it has already been asked and answered by someone else.

    I grew up in a house "finished" and "protected" with high gloss minwax. My mother got lots of mileage out of the gunk in that yellow can. I don't like the plastic look and feel. I avoided polyurethane until I learned that it was the finish used on my friends gorgeous dining room table.

    I am a new to refinishing furniture all by myself, but want to use quality products for a quality finish. FYI, my little dog and the neighbors kids won't be hanging around the work area breathing fumes.

    I read some articles in fine woodworking and took a couple of books out of the library. However, I am interested in the favorite products of experienced woodworkers.

    I bought Old Masters wiping stain in Rich Mahogany but from the very nice man at the Benjamin Moore store. I was agonizing over the color. I hope that one is right for me. Now that the piece is fully stripped, I am thinking of using a lighter stain. Another advantage of shopping locally, they will probably exchange unopened cans of stain. I was tempted to order a different stain online, but I really want the personal support. I may order Wood Kote's Danish Walnut for a future project. I didn't like the greenish cast of the Old Masters color card and samples.

    The man at the store recommended their satin oli based Old Masters poly or a matte acrylic product. He uses the poly, but has seen very nice results with the acrylic.

  • mdln
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    @ rocksandroses - just did my front door in Old Masters Rich Mahogony, LOVE it.

  • RocksAndRoses
    9 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Has anyone tried any of the other Old Masters stains - specifically the golden oak, the cherry or the light walnuts - special and natural? I am thinking ahead to future projects while stripping and sanding the current one.

    I love the Old Masters Rich Mahogany also. I have three good pieces to refinish - all mid century - a dresser, a china cabinet and a stereo cabinet. I am agonizing over colors and finishes. The china cabinet is in the worst shape, so I am starting with it. Once stripped, it is clearly mahogany. It will be Rich Mahogany, eventually. I think it will be beautiful with the brass hardware. The original stain was more brown, but I dislike dark brown stains.

    I worked up my courage on two other dressers (I have lots of clothes, many designed myself, and relatively small closets in my new place - I predict at least one craigslist armoire in my future...). These are basic dressers obtained for free. They were worn when I got them and were moved twice since then. I stripped the tops and stained them with the rich mahogany for practice. It made even these beat up old dressers look wonderful. I decided to paint the bases tan/taupe. I didn't imagine my beat up old dressers could look so elegant!

    I am experimenting with Minwax wiping poly on top of the dried stained dresser top. I applied the first coat. Once it dries, I will smooth with 0000 steel wool and apply another coat - continuing until I am happy with the finish.

    I had a strong bias against poly especially minwax stain and poly. My mother favored dark walnut stain and thick coats of minwax clear glossy poly. Both were taken from cans that could have been older than I was. Everything looked blotchy, shiny and cheap. Not my taste. After hearing and reading so many favorable reviews of the wiping poly, I decided to give it a try. I am not sure if I will use it on my "good" pieces, yet, but it looks alright after the first thin coat.

  • Vinny Simkin
    3 years ago

    i dont like 0000 steel wool or any gague steel wool for that matter it leaves small pieces of metal which sometimes rust (oxidize) which can not only taint your finish a rusty red but in bad cases over time lead to imperfections and weak points in your finish which crack cloud ect. i like sand paper 320 or 400 just make sure you wipe down the surface afterward so you dont have ANY dust left to cause a SNAFU in an otherwise perfect finish