Clearest, non yellowing, clear finish. - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 02-17-2016, 08:38 PM Thread Starter
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Question Clearest, non yellowing, clear finish.

I want to know what is the clearest top coat finish I can use on some tables that I have refinished. They have dovetail contrast that I want to remain noticeable after a while. The old finish that was/is absolute murder to remove has browned and is really ugly and hides the detail in the dovetails.

I prefer a hand subbed finish, I think any kind of teak or danish oil is out as they are already tinted. I could wax or use a hand rubbed polyurethane or lacquer, however I need to know which one does not yellow. I am not adverse to using just clear stain, if that is the clearest finish available. The photo #1 shows what I am trying to preserve and the photos 2 & 3 show the before with the old yellowed finish that almost completely covers the dove tails. Now you see what I am trying to protect, what should I use, be specific please.

Any help would be appreciated. :smile3:

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post #2 of 6 Old 02-17-2016, 09:50 PM
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Without knowing what kind of finish is on them now it's difficult to recommend a finish. The most common clear finish would be a water based polyurethane however it shouldn't be used over another finish unless it's water based poly. Any oil based varnish or polyurethane is going to yellow. It's the nature of oil based finishes. Lacquer, if the existing finish is an oil based varnish then the solvents in it could wrinkle up and ruin the existing finish. With lacquer you have to be careful which one. The most common lacquer is known as a nitrocellulose lacquer which is made from cotton and is prone to yellow. There are acrylic lacquers though that would remain clear. A pre-catalyzed lacquer is one that will remain clear. The only thing you might do is find an inconspicuous place on the furniture and wet it with lacquer thinner or a drop of lacquer and see what happens.

As best as I can tell from the pictures is the finish that is on there now has yellowed already. It's likely to continue to yellow even if you put a clear finish over the top. The only real solution would be to refinish the furniture and go back with a non-yellowing finish. If you choose this route you better wait a while. Stripping furniture isn't a winter sport. No remover works well below 70 degrees and actually works better at 90 degrees.
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post #3 of 6 Old 02-17-2016, 11:01 PM
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Steve I did read refinished BUT I understand that doesn't mean stripped.

Steve has given you great info on the little we have to go on. Finishes don't mix with other finishes.

Have a Blessed and Prosperous day in Jesus's Awesome Love, Tim John 3:16-21 ..........
Reveling God's awesome beauty while creating one of-a-kind flitches and heirlooms.
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post #4 of 6 Old 02-18-2016, 09:00 AM Thread Starter
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I have no idea what was on them it has been stripped away. To be clear, I do not intend to combine any finishes. The old finish was stripped, hence the reason I am looking for a new finish. Photo #1 is the 'after' photo, which has been stripped. Photos #2, #3 are the before, with the old ugly finish. I wish to avoid a recurrence of that ugly yellowing or worse turning brown on the tables, which I spent hours stripping.

Am I to understand that a neutral stain will yellow at some point? It looks great on walnut but I am not sure if it will yellow the ash or pecan. What about waxing? Will wax stay clear?

Perhaps the wipe on poly is the best bet. Is this a good product?

I live in Arizona so I do not have to worry about winter. However, I used Flo-Dip or this product by Formbys, which is the same chemical make-up ... for the stripping pieces from this same line, in November or December at night and it may have been cooler than 70 degrees. Is that why it was so difficult to strip these pieces? I tried acetone recently during the day, it was a bit easier but still very difficult. Is that because it was polyurethane or the temperature was too cool?
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post #5 of 6 Old 02-18-2016, 09:33 AM
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Sorry about the misunderstanding. If you have taken it down to bare wood the wipe on poly you have shown in the link will work for you. It will just take a lot of coats. You probably need to apply three coats before attempting to do any between the coats sanding.

The closer you get to 70 degrees with any remover the less effective it is. Even professional removes are affected by cool weather. I have two customers that wanted some refinishing done early this winter and I had to tell them they would have to wait until spring. Acetone is a solvent, it's not paint remover however it is a strong enough of a solvent to lift many finishes but it just doesn't clean well enough. It would be better suited to rinse the residue of the remover off. To really remove a finish it would be better to use a methylene chloride paint and varnish remover.

Some stains will yellow the wood. The linseed oil will yellow a little but the pigments contained in it do far more. A lot of wood stains have a lot of yellow oxide pigments in it. You just have to find one that doesn't. This would mean though you would have to find one with more red in it.
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post #6 of 6 Old 02-18-2016, 12:27 PM
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I would recommend thinned synthetic lacquer. It will remain clear (unless you put the item in the sun for too long).
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