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Sometimes I like to de-nib between coats using 0000 steel wool. Now that I'm using waterborne finishes, I know that using real steel wool isn't a good idea because it can rust. I've tried the grey and white synthetic pads, but it seems like the grey is too coarse and that the white is too fine (does almost nothing). It also seems that the "grain" in the synthetic pads is very inconsistent. Has anyone found a good substitute for real steel wool?
 

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Pain in the A$$
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I beleivethe Aluminum 0000 product works fine and doesn't rust. I've seen it at a local store where I buy my Old Masters stain.
 

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Old School
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Sometimes I like to de-nib between coats using 0000 steel wool. Now that I'm using waterborne finishes, I know that using real steel wool isn't a good idea because it can rust. I've tried the grey and white synthetic pads, but it seems like the grey is too coarse and that the white is too fine (does almost nothing). It also seems that the "grain" in the synthetic pads is very inconsistent. Has anyone found a good substitute for real steel wool?
There are other "wools" than steel. There's stainless steel, bronze wool, mineral wools, and synthetic wools. As for Scotch-Brite pads, there are other selections than just the white and gray (there are three grays).
http://academic.evergreen.edu/projects/biophysics/technotes/fabric/finish.pdf






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I prefer to use sandpaper between coats however there is no reason you can't use steel wool with water based polyurethane. You just have to be more thorough cleaning it off before topcoating. If there is no residue of steel on the surface it certainly isn't going to rust.
 

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I prefer to use sandpaper between coats however there is no reason you can't use steel wool with water based polyurethane. You just have to be more thorough cleaning it off before topcoating. If there is no residue of steel on the surface it certainly isn't going to rust.
Directions with waterbased polyurethane states do not use steel wool.
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Most likely the debris left even after cleaning won't be that detectable. Of course, if you aren't concerned with the quality of your finish...go ahead and use steel wool.






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Directions with waterbased polyurethane states do not use steel wool.
View attachment 74605

Most likely the debris left even after cleaning won't be that detectable. Of course, if you aren't concerned with the quality of your finish...go ahead and use steel wool.










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The directions say not to use steel wool because most people won't clean the surface through enough. I've used steel wool on a water base finish without any problems for years. Then years later I see people worring about it and it makes sence that if one leaves the chards on the surface it will rust. I didn't leave any so there was no problem.
 

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Rick Mosher
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After I got a small bit of steel in my eye from blowing away steel wool debris that had to be picked out in the ER, with a hypodermic needle that looked 4 feet long, I haven't used it since. I find the red scotch brite pad replaces steel wool for most finishing applications that I need. The only thing I also use is an Abralon pad for rubbing out finishes which is FAR better than anything else I have used.
 

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The directions say not to use steel wool because most people won't clean the surface through enough. I've used steel wool on a water base finish without any problems for years. Then years later I see people worring about it and it makes sence that if one leaves the chards on the surface it will rust. I didn't leave any so there was no problem.
Do you ever read what you write? Since you say most people don't , that's why there's directions. Directions should be followed. Members on this forum that are qualified to comment on projects and procedures shouldn't be advising not to follow directions.




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Do you ever read what you write? Since you say most people don't , that's why there's directions. Directions should be followed. Members on this forum that are qualified to comment on projects and procedures shouldn't be advising not to follow directions.








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Label directions are just advise written by a person. Some advise is good and some isn't and they can't be too thorough with instructions because they have to take up 3/4 of the label with hazzard and enviromental warnings in two or three languages. It just comes down to common sense. If you clean all the metal off there won't be a problem. There were no such warnings when I started using water based finishes but I knew steel wool is dirty to work with so I cleaned well. I've never had a problem so if anyone else cleans well they won't have a problem either.
 

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Old School
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Label directions are just advise written by a person. Some advise is good and some isn't and they can't be too thorough with instructions because they have to take up 3/4 of the label with hazzard and enviromental warnings in two or three languages. It just comes down to common sense. If you clean all the metal off there won't be a problem. There were no such warnings when I started using water based finishes but I knew steel wool is dirty to work with so I cleaned well. I've never had a problem so if anyone else cleans well they won't have a problem either.
I remember the warnings when waterbased poly first came out, and I've been using it since then and I follow directions. IMO, some advice you should just keep to yourself.






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I remember the warnings when waterbased poly first came out, and I've been using it since then and I follow directions. IMO, some advice you should just keep to yourself.










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IMO I think you should tend to your own knitting. There is no reason a person can't use steel wool with a water based finish if it is done correctly and that isn't difficult at all. If I have first hand knowledge with a procedure that I know works I'm going to post it. The only problem here is you.
 

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Sawdust Creator
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I kinda disagree here Steve....your saying since it hasn't bit you in the rear that its perfectly fine.....that's like saying its fine to wire a live electrical circuit if you only touch one wire at a time.....people have done it successfully without getting hurt....but it's still not the process that should be done. Directions aren't just written by some random person, they're written in consultation with people that to be honest, have far more of an understanding of the chemistry and physical properties of the finish than any of us do. The problem is that with wood finishes, some can be quite dangerous, and by setting a standard practice that the directions aren't important, someone could get in some real trouble......

Not trying to offend you....just food for thought.
 

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I kinda disagree here Steve....your saying since it hasn't bit you in the rear that its perfectly fine.....that's like saying its fine to wire a live electrical circuit if you only touch one wire at a time.....people have done it successfully without getting hurt....but it's still not the process that should be done. Directions aren't just written by some random person, they're written in consultation with people that to be honest, have far more of an understanding of the chemistry and physical properties of the finish than any of us do. The problem is that with wood finishes, some can be quite dangerous, and by setting a standard practice that the directions aren't important, someone could get in some real trouble......

Not trying to offend you....just food for thought.
I understand the reason behind the recomendation not to use steel wool however there was a period of a couple of years where I was forced to use water based finishes exclusively. I was involved with touching up and refinishing antiques at the time and there is no telling how many times I ended up using steel wool in the process. Most of the time I was attempting to buff out a finish and then decided to go over it with another coat. At the time there was no warning about using steel wool with it so the thought never crossed my mind about it rusting. Instinctively since steel wool is messy I thoroughly cleaned the finish off prior to finishing over it and never had a problem. Now years later I'm seeing warnings and I know its from feedback from DIY'ers that did not clean very well after using the steel wool and got it in the finish. It's just easier for them to say not use it then say how to use it.
 

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For various reasons, I don't use water based finishes. Nevertheless, I'm paranoid about removing all traces of the steel wool I use. After a good brushing and vacuuming, I go over the project with a magnetized pad, like a big fridge magnet. I hold it like a card scraper and go over the project until no more shards cling to it.
Works for me.
 

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Old School
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I understand the reason behind the recomendation not to use steel wool however there was a period of a couple of years where I was forced to use water based finishes exclusively. I was involved with touching up and refinishing antiques at the time and there is no telling how many times I ended up using steel wool in the process. Most of the time I was attempting to buff out a finish and then decided to go over it with another coat. At the time there was no warning about using steel wool with it so the thought never crossed my mind about it rusting. Instinctively since steel wool is messy I thoroughly cleaned the finish off prior to finishing over it and never had a problem. Now years later I'm seeing warnings and I know its from feedback from DIY'ers that did not clean very well after using the steel wool and got it in the finish. It's just easier for them to say not use it then say how to use it.
There's always a "however" or a story to justify your methods. I'm sorry that this discussion continues with your insisting that it's OK. There's really no excuses for not being aware of the warnings, precautions, or directions of any product used in woodworking or finishing. It's just like the warnings and directions for using safety equipment for machines like table saws.

So, you can come back here and say that you didn't have a problem, and probably will do that again. Some table saw operators will say they don't use the safety devices, while others will show the results of a spinning blade.

So, as someone that has spent quite a bit of time doing shop work, I suggest to follow product directions no matter what they are. It's just plain foolish not to. Those that make those directions are just people, but people that do extensive testing and are a whole lot more educated in their product than you or me ever will be.






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There's always a "however" or a story to justify your methods. I'm sorry that this discussion continues with your insisting that it's OK. There's really no excuses for not being aware of the warnings, precautions, or directions of any product used in woodworking or finishing. It's just like the warnings and directions for using safety equipment for machines like table saws.

So, you can come back here and say that you didn't have a problem, and probably will do that again. Some table saw operators will say they don't use the safety devices, while others will show the results of a spinning blade.

So, as someone that has spent quite a bit of time doing shop work, I suggest to follow product directions no matter what they are. It's just plain foolish not to. Those that make those directions are just people, but people that do extensive testing and are a whole lot more educated in their product than you or me ever will be.










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If we are going to continue this, someone is going to have to explain to me how there can be an adverse reaction to applying a water based poly to a project that has had 100% of the dust and debris of the steel wool removed. I can't believe I'm the only one in the universe that can do that.
 

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If we are going to continue this, someone is going to have to explain to me how there can be an adverse reaction to applying a water based poly to a project that has had 100% of the dust and debris of the steel wool removed. I can't believe I'm the only one in the universe that can do that.

You are not, I too am able to perform this feat. I simply blow it off with my air compressor and good to go.
I just don't like getting caught up in debates in here. Remember, forums are based on opinions. Hopefully these opinions are based on experience.
 

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You are not, I too am able to perform this feat. I simply blow it off with my air compressor and good to go.
I just don't like getting caught up in debates in here. Remember, forums are based on opinions. Hopefully these opinions are based on experience.
The point to this "discussion" is not a debate on who is right or wrong, or even if that procedure can be done effectively. It's more about whether someone who is supposed to be "in the know" suggests not to follow directions.




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