I've been applying original Waterlox to this American Chestnut tea table top with spotty results, literally. I got the wood 20 years ago from a hardwood dealer somewhere in Eastern PA. I know now that it's an endangered species; I don't remember if I knew that then, or whether the wood was ethically harvested or not. But I have it, so I won't let it go to waste.
American Chestnut is a beach-family tree, but has some similarities to walnut. It's softer and the grain density and pore size are much more uneven than walnut. And with the design of this top, there's a lot of transition between long-grain and end-grain, and a lot of nooks and crannies that are very difficult to sand.
I sanded the top to 220. Brand new bottle of Waterlox (not the 20-year-old stuff I asked about in a thread a few months ago). I applied a coat of Waterlox, lightly thinned with mineral spirits (say, 4:1), with a natural bristle brush, and then wiped it with a cloth. Let it dry for 24-hours and it looked lovely. Except, when the light hit it just right you could see tiny droplets or spots usually around the opening of a large pore. In paces where the end gran was sliced, there would be a spatter of glossy droplets. To the touch, it was mostly smooth.
There are imperfections in the carved surfaces, and I'm resigned to those being visible from any kind of gloss. But this is something else. The droplets/spots/spatter is on perfectly smooth-sanded areas as well as some spots that are less perfect.
I wasn't surprised by this. I figured I'd have to to a few coats with sanding between until the pores were filled and the last few coats would apply more evenly. So after sanding with 400 grit, I wiped with mineral spirits and let dry, and then I did a second coat. Same result. Buffed with 0000 steel wool, wipe & dry. Third coat, this time as a wipe-on with a rag. Same result. 0000 Steel wool a second time, wipe & dry, and wipe-on fourth coat (this one, without dilution). Same result.
So, do I just keep at it? Or do I need to change my process? Or is there something about combination fo the Waterlox and chestnut that just won't give me nice results?
Years ago, I got magnificent results with this product and process on a Walnut table top. I recall doing probably a dozen coats or so, and got a gorgeous luster with fantastic depth, without looking like a coat of plastic was on top.