How do I apply GEL polyurethane??

adam99September 29, 2009

I recently finished a side table using General Finishes gel stain. Worked fairly well, but I'm nervous about applying their GEL polyurethane. What's the best technique for applying this product? I want to avoid drips and don't want it to look too 'heavy'.

I've attempted using normal polyurethane without much success, but I have a can of this if it's easier to apply.


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Gosh - no one has applied gel polyurethane before? That's hard to believe.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 1:46PM
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Ask budge1 over on Home Decorating - she just used Old Masters gel poly on her kitchen table.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 2:00PM
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Never heard of it til you posted. Been finishing wood porjects for many years.

I Googled it---did not find info on General finishes(which are good, I've used some traditional General finishes), but other name brand instructions said to wipe it on.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 2:44PM
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A friend of mine runs a woodworking supply store and is a very good finisher. He calls gel varnish, "The answer to a question nobody asked." The premise is that you want a varnish to soak into the surface of the wood, not just sit on the surface. When a well-known finish supplier tried to get him to carry their gel stain in his store, he made this comment to them (he is never shy about expressing his opinion). Their response was, "Well, we always thin it before using it." So then what is the purpose?

I have used Bartley's Gel varnish as not was not too impressed with it. It tends to build up in concave details.

The thing about gel varnishes is that the contain a "thixotropic agent" This makes the finish gel when at rest, and liquid when energy is applied. For example, open a can and put in a stir-stick. It will stand up. Stir vigorously for a minute and put the stick back in and now it will tip over. The same thing happens at a small level when the finish is padded on, it liquifies at the point of contact, then returns to a gel.

Personally, I like a varnish thinner and brushed or padded on. Pretty much a fool-proof method of varnishing is to thin about 50-50 with mineral spirits and wipe on multiple thin coats. You'll need 7-8 coats to equal about 3-4 coats of brushed on, but it goes fast, no brush to clean, and you can pad on another coat while it is still green (slightly tacky).

Pad on three coats in one day, while the prior coat is still "green." Let dry overnight.

Scuff sand, and repeat three coats on the second day. Let dry overnight.

Scuff sand and apply three more coats on the third day.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 7:57PM
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Application style which worked for me: brush on with a 2" brush, get coverage into the corners because the wiping will take care of the flats; wipe to an even coating with a soft cloth, lint-free. Work quickly because it sets up with great rapidity. I like the gel varnish because it is one fast foolproof step that has the effect of not looking like a heavy brushed finish. It's also dust free in about 5 minutes.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 9:34PM
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