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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am still fairly new to woodworking and finishing my first end tables. I used red oak because I got a it for a good deal. My question is how many coats of minwax fast drying poly do you guys usually apply to the top for good protection? I applied the poly uncut with a foam brush, the finish is nice and smooth but I can see a few small pin holes in the areas with a lot of grain. I have about 5 coats on now, can too many coats cause problems? Thanks Jim
 

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I am still fairly new to woodworking and finishing my first end tables. I used red oak because I got a it for a good deal. My question is how many coats of minwax fast drying poly do you guys usually apply to the top for good protection? I applied the poly uncut with a foam brush, the finish is nice and smooth but I can see a few small pin holes in the areas with a lot of grain. I have about 5 coats on now, can too many coats cause problems? Thanks Jim
There are fillers that are best used on porous wood, ESPECIALLY oak, before you put on poly, but it's too late for you. I don't know how many coats you would need to put on to totally smooth out the pore holes, but it's likely to be a lot.
 

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I am still fairly new to woodworking and finishing my first end tables. I used red oak because I got a it for a good deal. My question is how many coats of minwax fast drying poly do you guys usually apply to the top for good protection? I applied the poly uncut with a foam brush, the finish is nice and smooth but I can see a few small pin holes in the areas with a lot of grain. I have about 5 coats on now, can too many coats cause problems? Thanks Jim
It's likely you left some bubbles with a foam brush. Try thinning the poly about 25% with mineral spirits. Sand the finish with 320x, (with the grain direction) and wipe on the finish with a clean lint free cloth folded in a neat pad.






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I never have been able to apply a finish with a foam brush that it didn't make bubbles. I don't try anymore, I use a soft bristle paint brush when working poly by hand. It's hard to say how many coats to apply. Some people put enough on in one coat where others brush it on really thin. The objective with any film coating is to apply the finish about 3 mils thick (about the thickness of a lawn and leaf trash bag). It is equally important to allow enough drying time between coats. If the weather is cool where you are it may take many times the suggested drying time on the instructions. When you sand the finish between coats if the finish tends to gum up on the sandpaper it isn't near dry enough to recoat.
 

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phinds said:
There are fillers that are best used on porous wood, ESPECIALLY oak, before you put on poly, but it's too late for you. I don't know how many coats you would need to put on to totally smooth out the pore holes, but it's likely to be a lot.
I'm with you on the filler. It's too bad many here don't do it. Especially on furniture. Really takes the finished table to a finer quality.

To the OP. You might try sanding it flat with a fine grit and then try filling by rubbing it in with #4 pumice. Leave the pumice in the pores and finish. Don't know if it will work with poly but it's an old method of French polishing.

If your new to woodworking. I'd like to challenge you to research finishes for furniture that don't use poly. For end tables you could use a wipe on varnish (not the poly type) that will be the easiest to apply and look like a million bucks. Too many times we get caught up in the idea that the finish has to be rock hard and bullet proof.

Al

Nails only hold themselves.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the replies. Last year I replaced my carpeted stairs with oak and I learned when applying the poly with a foam brush if you will just very lightly drag the brush over the poly right after you apply it this will eliminate the bubbles and after drying leaving a very smooth finish. I have read where a lot of people use fillers and some say it is not needed. The end tables are the mission style and stained with Early American stain and are for the family room is why I used poly. The finish right now is very smooth and when you run you hand across the top you can just barely feel the rise and dip of the grain which I like for a family room end table. I just didn't know how many coats people typically put on table tops.
 

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I am still fairly new to woodworking and finishing my first end tables. I used red oak because I got a it for a good deal. My question is how many coats of minwax fast drying poly do you guys usually apply to the top for good protection? I applied the poly uncut with a foam brush, the finish is nice and smooth but I can see a few small pin holes in the areas with a lot of grain. I have about 5 coats on now, can too many coats cause problems? Thanks Jim
the oak should have a coat of sealer before you applyed finish, oak is very porous , and the more you put on the more the little holes will fill up , it will take a few more, what you mite do is sand down a little like take off some of the finish off this may make the hole's somewhat smaller and the finish will start to fill the hole's, next time use filler, good learing experence
 

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I've never used filler or sealer on oak. I understand why people use filler, but sealer? I think oak is one of the easiest to finish.
 

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By the way....I use 3 coats of lacquer on my table tops....use enough coats that it's well protected, but no so many it's looking thick and built up. The thickness of each coat will affect your actual number.
 

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I am still fairly new to woodworking and finishing my first end tables. I used red oak because I got a it for a good deal. My question is how many coats of minwax fast drying poly do you guys usually apply to the top for good protection? I applied the poly uncut with a foam brush, the finish is nice and smooth but I can see a few small pin holes in the areas with a lot of grain. I have about 5 coats on now, can too many coats cause problems? Thanks Jim
I have gone to the wipe on poly's for just that reason and have had some really good results. Usually have to do more then 3 coats, five seems to work great, but really not that hard to do, wiping on the poly goes really fast and no chance for bubbles, streaks or drips. I use old tee shirt square to put it on. Comes in oil and water based.

oil base
http://www.minwax.com/wood-products/interior-clear-protective-finishes/minwax-wipeon-poly

water based
http://www.minwax.com/wood-products...ctive-finishes/minwax-water-based-wipeon-poly
 

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ryan50hrl said:
I've never used filler or sealer on oak. I understand why people use filler, but sealer? I think oak is one of the easiest to finish.
I never used sealer before either. But now I'm building the largest woodworking project I have ever done. 4 walk in closets in walnut. I'm into my 26th sheet of 3/4" ply and I'm glad someone talked me into using a vinyl sealer. It's the product the manufacturer makes specifically to be applied (sprayed) before the pre cat lacquer. It's cheaper. It bonds better and it sands so fast and easy without the build up on the paper. I get 5 gal for the price of two gal of lacquer.

Al

Nails only hold themselves.
 

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GoNavy429 said:
I have gone to the wipe on poly's for just that reason and have had some really good results. Usually have to do more then 3 coats, five seems to work great, but really not that hard to do, wiping on the poly goes really fast and no chance for bubbles, streaks or drips. I use old tee shirt square to put it on. Comes in oil and water based.

oil base
http://www.minwax.com/wood-products/interior-clear-protective-finishes/minwax-wipeon-poly

water based
http://www.minwax.com/wood-products/interior-clear-protective-finishes/minwax-water-based-wipeon-poly
While I shy away from poly. My finish of choice for anything in furniture is a wipe on varnish. Like you said, it's not hard to do. In fact it's probably the easiest finish to do if you want a fine finish. I use the oldest method known to woodworking, but unfortunately they no longer give directions for it on the cans anymore.

Al

Nails only hold themselves.
 

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Thanks for all the replies. I have thinned the poly about 50/50 before and wiped on with good results and I will do that for my final coat. My basement is a little cool right now so I am going to wait awhile before applying any more finish. So if I where to use fillers on pours woods (oak) that I wanted to stain would mixing an oil based paste filler with an oil based stain give me good results?
 

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Thanks for all the replies. I have thinned the poly about 50/50 before and wiped on with good results and I will do that for my final coat. My basement is a little cool right now so I am going to wait awhile before applying any more finish. So if I where to use fillers on pours woods (oak) that I wanted to stain would mixing an oil based paste filler with an oil based stain give me good results?
Grain fillers/paste wood fillers work good as they come. They are available in "natural", and in colors. They take stain very well when dry. They could be mixed with stain. Fillers are available in solvent (oil) base and water base, so, make sure what you're mixing is compatible.



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Thanks for all the replies. I have thinned the poly about 50/50 before and wiped on with good results and I will do that for my final coat. My basement is a little cool right now so I am going to wait awhile before applying any more finish. So if I where to use fillers on pours woods (oak) that I wanted to stain would mixing an oil based paste filler with an oil based stain give me good results?
No you should use the grain filler first and then stain. If you mixed it with the stain it would thin it too much. Think of grain filler like thin wood putty. You apply it, let it thicken to a paste and then squeegee with a piece of plastic like a credit card or rub it into the grain in a circular motion. You should stain a piece of scrap wood to get a idea of the color. The open grain will be darker than the wood between. The grain filler should be as close to the dark grain as possible. You can alter the color of a grain filler with a universal tinting color. It's the colorant the paint companies have in their machines to color paint. Some real paint stores carry the colorant in bottles and some paint stores will sell you a few ounces at a time in empty containers out of their machines. Once the wood is grained filled and dry lightly sand the residue left on the surface so the wood will stain uniform.
 

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Filling open pore wood such as oak and walnut will produce a fine finish. It's a step up in quality and will turn heads. People will want to feel the difference they see with their eyes. It's the difference between a complement for your work and admiration. I would like to encourage anyone to try filler and enjoy the difference a little more work can produce.

Al B Thayer

Nails only hold themselves.
 
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