Thinning & Using Poly
with Howard Acheson

Here is something put together by a friend of mine, Jim Kull.

There are a number of suggested application regimens that are totally subjective.   The number of coats in a given day, the % of cut on various coats, which coat to sand after, when to use the blade, and a whole host of other practices are all minor differences between finishers.   There are some things that I consider sacred when applying a wipe-on finish.

If you are making your own wipe-on, the mix is scientific - thin.   I suggest 50/50 because it is easier to type than any other ratio and easy to remember.   It's also a good starting point--feel free to deviate plus or minus 25%.

The number of coats in a given day is not important.   Important is to apply a wet coat with an applicator and merely get it on.   Think of a pimply 16 year old kid working as a busboy at Denny's you have sent over to wipe off a table.   The applicator should be thoroughly wet but not dripping.   The applicator can be a paper towel, half a T-shirt sleeve or that one sock left after a load of washing.   Then leave it alone.   If you have missed a spot, ignore it - you will get it on the next coat.   If you try and fix a missed spot you will leave a mark in the finish.

Timing for a subsequent coats involves the pinkie test.   Touch the surface with your pinkie.   If nothing comes off you are ready for another coat.   It was tacky 5 minutes ago but not now.   Apply your next coat just as you applied the previous coat.   Remember, you are wet wiping not flooding.   After two coats, let it dry for 2 days and then flat sand with 320 paper.   Now apply the next coat.   Keep going till you are tired of it.   The number of coats is not critical - there is no critical or right number to apply in a given day.   For surfaces that will get abuse like kitchen tabletops, 5-6 total coats are minimal.

After it has dried at least over night you will have boogers in the surface.   You should not have marks in the surface because you ignored application flaws.   You will have dust, lint and, if you live in Texas, bug legs.   Use the utility knife blade at this point.   Hold it between your thumb and forefinger, near the vertical, and gently scrape the surface.   Gentle is the important word - no harder than you would scrape your face.   If you start scraping aggressively you will leave small cut marks in the surface.   After you have scraped to the baby butt stage gently abrade the surface with 220 dry paper or a gray ScotchBrite.   Clean off the surface and begin applying more finish until you reach the point where one more coat will be perfection.   Stop and allow it to dry over night.   Repeat the blade and abrading step.   Apply your last coat with a bit more care than the previous coats and walk away.

An anal person is going to have a tough time with this process.
  • Missed spots have to be ignored.
  • Wet wipe, don't flood.
  • Scraping to babies butt smooth means scraping no harder than scraping a babies butt.
  • Ignoring any of these will leave marks that are tough to get out.
  • Getting these marks out requires some agressive sanding to flatten out the surface and starting over.

  • Howie.........

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