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Discussion Starter #1
Wiped some poly onto some 1/2" oak ply and after drying find it to be sticky and tacky. Should I be knocking it back a bit with some steel wool to resolve that?

Thanks.
 

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How long has it been since you applied the poly and what kind of weather is it exposed to? Temperature and humidity can extend the drying time. It sounds like you just haven't let it completely dry yet. I would stay away from it with steel wool. If it's sticky you will get the steel wool in the finish.
 

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Tent it under a 100 watt bulb for 6-12 hours and it should be completely dry. If it isn't, you've somehow ruined your finish and you'll have to strip it and do it again.
 

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There must be more to the story, tell us the entire process you are using as well as which products. Even in poor conditions, poly, that is still good, should dry over night.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi,

It's Miniwax clear gloss poly (I think oil based).

It's been 2 days since I applied the coat and it dried a bit more but it just doesnt look right--sort of still tacky in areas. Should it still be drying this long after applying. I applied it in indoors and its around 70 degrees in my basement...


I guess its possible that I applied too much? What procedure do you guys usually follow for a good finish? (I'm working with oak ply). Do you apply and then wipeoff excess? (I didnt). I'm thinking that might produce a better finish.

And in terms of additional coats? The instructions say to sand with 220 between coats.

Thanks!

Nathan
 

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If it has been dyring two days and it still has tacky spots then something is wrong. I don't think it was that you applied too much. There is some kind of chemical reaction going on. Was there anything put on the wood prior to applying the Minwax.
 

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You haven't said if you did anything to the plywood before applying the poly, sanded, stained, oiled or wiped with anything, if so, exactly what did you do? Is the plywood new? Oil based poly will say, "contains petroleum distillates", somewhere on the label. Did you thin it? Is it a fresh can or something you had laying around, has it ever been frozen? How did you apply it? No, you don't wipe off excess but you don't flow it on thickly. What's the temperature? Did you set it out in the sun? Is this the first coat, did you keep going back over what you laid down to brush it more perfectly?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I didn't do anything to the wood before applying the poly. The plywood is relatively new. I did not thin it.

I should have clarified that the can is not new, it has definitely been sitting around for quite a while, possibly years. I guess that would make a big difference?

Anyone have any recs on what works well for them in terms of poly for projects? Both the manufacturer, type and applying it? I see these projects on youtube and guys saying "all I did was wipe on some poly" and it looks great whereas mine do not.

Thanks.
 

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The only thing I can guess is the humidity may be higher in your basement extending the drying time. You might put a window fan blowing on it and see if that helps dry it.
 

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I didn't do anything to the wood before applying the poly. The plywood is relatively new. I did not thin it.

I should have clarified that the can is not new, it has definitely been sitting around for quite a while, possibly years. I guess that would make a big difference?

Anyone have any recs on what works well for them in terms of poly for projects? Both the manufacturer, type and applying it? I see these projects on youtube and guys saying "all I did was wipe on some poly" and it looks great whereas mine do not.

Thanks.
You said the can was old...maybe years. If it was ever opened, it's likely that it's just gone bad. It may cure, and it may take some time.




.
 

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You said the can was old...maybe years. If it was ever opened, it's likely that it's just gone bad. It may cure, and it may take some time.
Yep, if it had been opened (unopened oil base finishes keep a very long time) it may be bad. You can wait and see, or try to remove it all and start over. If by chance that can was never opened, there's something else amiss.
 

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If what you used has been sitting around for years, that's most likely the problem. Any can that has been sitting will need an extraordinary amount of stirring, not shaking. Many of the components can settle to the bottom and it can take 20 minutes of careful lifting like stirring to reincorporate everything. It's always worth the small expense to use reasonably fresh materials. Most products have a decent shelf life unopened, unadulterated, but once opened and the air get's to it, things can change. If it's been a year or the product has gone through extreme temperature changes, don't use it.

What finish to use and how to do it is the proverbial can of worms for woodworkers. People in the business usually don't use products you can find at ordinary suppliers but these products can be difficult. There are all types of different finishes with different properties. You choose a finish for certain properties. That may be water and scuff resistance, it may be for appearance, different levels of gloss, different color and so on. The species of wood you use can also be a factor as well as whether it's stained, dyed or left natural. There are highly polished, glass like appearances, "in the wood" type finishes and everything in between.

Wipe on finishes are some of the easiest. You don't have to worry about brush marks, runs and drips and dust. Some advocate making your own wipe on poly, for example. In my opinion and experience, by adding off the shelf thinners to a manufactured product, you are not using the same thinner the manufacturer used. They use more refined substances. You are changing the proportions of what is in the mix, solids, which are the binding resins that form the film, driers which help with the curing and molecular binding of the solids as well as any other additives that are in the original product. A slight amount of additional thinner usually won't be a problem but products these days for DIY use are already low in solids. You are diluting all the measured components. Just because some think it works to the eye, doesn't mean that you have preserved the attributes and properties of the original product.

It's much easier for a novice to buy a product that is ready to use. There will be no unknowns and, hopefully, none of the problems so many write here for help with. Minwax makes a wipe on, oil based polyurethane. It has the properties that will stand up to ordinary household use and cleaners. It's available in three sheens, satin, semi-gloss and gloss. It imparts a light amber color which is traditional in appearance. Satin is the most forgiving and doesn't highlight any unevenness in the work. Other than freshly milled lumber that just came out of your planer, lumber and plywood surfaces oxidize and leach out, this is referred to as mill scale, invisible but still there. You should lightly sand the surface with a fine paper, then clean off the dust. When you apply the wipe on, just wet the surface and wipe off any excess. Use a piece of old, clean T-shirt. You don't want to leave visible liquid sitting on the surface. First applications will raise the grain and the surface will feel a little rough. I recommend applying two applications before sanding. Wait over night for it to completely dry, lightly sand with a fine paper, clean the dust, let the dust settle in your shop, clean yourself, no flannel shirts or clothes than may have lint. Two or three final applications should lay down nicely and should be all you need or want. More is not better with this type of product. This is an easy finish and one that is good to start with. It may be the only finish you ever use or you may want to experiment with others, but I'd start with this and gain experience. It dries quickly but allows enough time to apply before it get's sticky. The Minwax product has received top recommendations from several magazine reviews. I've used it and had great results, even though I normally spray other products.
 

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>>>> it has definitely been sitting around for quite a while, possibly years. I guess that would make a big difference?

That, most likely is your problem. Old finish does not dry correctly. Any finish older than 6 months should be discarded or tested on scrap wood to see if it dries/cures properly. If it takes more than 4-6 hours, it is past it's prime.

At this point, I would suggest you use a chemical stripper containing methylene chloride and remove the old finish. Then buy some fresh product and start over.

By the way, what is the temperature in your finishing area?
 

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Wiped some poly onto some 1/2" oak ply and after drying find it to be sticky and tacky. Should I be knocking it back a bit with some steel wool to resolve that?

Thanks.
What did you use minwax fast drying if so you need to wait until it is not tacky then use the steel wool on it but i would do it lightly
 

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Yes, the solvent has degraded or evaporated.

Remove and re-apply fresh finish. Since it’s un stained wood it shouldn’t be as risky.

Good practice to label with the date of purchase, but you can usually tell by observing a skin, or lack of solvent smell, Water based products not as prone.
 
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