What finish over poly gel stain?

sorrisoMay 23, 2009

I've just stained one dining room chair (see my post back in February for other details if needed) with a poly gel stain. So far so good. I'm letting this coat dry before proceeding with the other chairs.

Provided I'm happy with the results, what do you recommend to finish? I have a poly gel that I've used before with a dresser that we converted into our bathroom sink vanity (note to others: despite what they told/sold me at the finish-it-yourself place, NOT good for the top) and I'm satisfied with the results.

I'm open to another finish that might be "better," whatever better is.



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another finish that might be "better," whatever better is.

You need to define your parameters before you can define better.

- Application. Do you have the ability and skills to brush, wipe, or spray? Are toxic or flammable fumes a consideration where you will be finishing? Are there special requirements due to the species of wood or existing finish/contamination?

- Look and feel - do you want a high gloss finish or a flat in the wood finish? Do you want some ambering or need a colorless (called water white) finish? Do you want to enhance or hide the figure of the wood? Do you need pores filled?

- Durability : what are the needs for abrasion resistance, UV resistance, water resistance, food and beverage resistance? What about ease of repair? Ease of cleaning and maintenance?

- Costs. Do you have any restrictions on cost of material?

Choosing a finish

Finishing for first timers

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 4:18PM
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My first thought is lacquer, but not sure which type. The wood has been stained very dark and I'm not concerned about yellowing. I would apply by hand. I have ventilation. I potentially have dust, grass, dirt, blackflies in the air.

Nephew of Bob, what are good lacquers available at Lowe's?

Will a lacquered finish rub out with Imperial Hand Glaze?

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 6:44PM
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Wipe-on gel varnish. It's very foolproof.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 3:41PM
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Casey, can a gel varnish be an oil varnish? I ask because you responded to a question I posted awhile ago about the use of Imperial Hand Glaze and wrote that a nice oil varnish could be rubbed out with the glaze. Would you please recommend a brand or two unless all gel varnishes are created equally.

Thank you.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 7:17AM
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I've used gel varnish on a run of about 100 pieces. I was not overly impressed with it. I would rather use varnish thinned to a wiping consistency.

Imperial hand glaze is what I use for an ultra high gloss finish. The problem is, polyurethane varnishes are abrasion resistant, which makes them poor choices to rub to an ultra high gloss. Abrasion resistant does not equate to "hard," but more "rubbery." Alkyd or phenolic varnishes will rub better -- Pratt & Lambert #38, McCloskey Heirloom (now Cabot 8000 series), and Waterlox fall into these oil-based varnish types.

Big box stores will sell brushing lacquers under the brand names of "Deft Wood Finish" or "Watco Lacquer"

But you know the cardinal rule: Test before committing to your project.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 4:16PM
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I've followed up with products mentioned above and reread articles. My head is going to explode. I found glowing reviews of Cabot's gel varnish (gel clear) but evidently that's a product available in Australia only.

I'm confused about the paragraph in the "Finishing for first timers" article regarding Waterlox products. I finished our cherry butcher block with two Waterlox products: sealer/finish (medium sheen) and satin finish. From the article I'm understanding that Waterlox's wiping varnish would contain petroleum distillate (which I can't find on the labels of either container) but I've looked at the Waterlox site and I don't see a varnish. It would be wonderful if either/both could be used for my project. Are they?

I can't find gel varnishes anywhere around here and paying to have it shipped is prohibitive.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 1:42PM
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