Waterlox Varnish

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The A Train

Adam
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Hey guys, Im pretty new to this and have a couple questions. I recently finished building a bookshelf out of those wooden crates you can find at the big box stores. Unknown soft wood. I stacked 8 of them and glued and nailed them fairly well. I also made a base out of 2x4s for stability. I then used a vinegar/steel wool stain.

My foncerns come upon the finishing process. My research led me to Waterlox sealer/finisher. It supposedly penetrates the wood and gives it a durable hard finish. So far i have 2 brushed coats and one wiped on. Is this enough? And are there any additional steps to take once this last coat dries (sanding, buffing etc)?

The pic is the only one i have of the project so far. It was right after the stain process.


 

Jeff

New User
Jeff
That looks pretty good. I've never seen those wooden crates at a big box store but I haven't been looking for them either.

Unknown soft wood.
I then used a vinegar/steel wool stain.
Interesting. The vinegar/steel wool is not a "stain" in and of itself; it's just a solution of iron acetate in vinegar which reacts with the tannic acids in the wood to give iron tannate. Woods like maple and pine are low in tannic acid so they don't usually darken very much, but the oaks darken more because of their higher tannic acid content.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUWwNmNWMOU

Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish is an excellent product. Where did you get yours? Did you also buy a few cans of Bloxygen (argon gas) to keep the unused product from turning to a worthless gel in the can (oxygen + WL = a gel).

https://www.waterlox.com/project-help/guide?id=9eff2fa9-c7bc-4cf4-972a-5d19faccfbc8&q=

The crates, as you bought them, are about as good as you're going to get them at this point so sanding isn't gonna help. You could do another 1-2 coats of Waterlox but that may not be necessary for a bookcase, but it's your call.
 

LeftyTom

Tom
Corporate Member
Also to help preserve unused Waterlox: put marbles in the can until the finish is raised to the top of the can. I have success with this method, while the finish is 1/2" below the top of the can.
 

The A Train

Adam
User
Thanks for the replys. The link in jeffs post are similar but the ones I used were 17.5" long instead of 13.5". Theyre built fairly decent for what they are. Just got to pick through them to make sure all the staples they used on the slats are secure.

Ill try to take another picture later. I know this finish gets absorbed into the wood and hardens. Ive just never used anything like it before. Does it harden the wood itself?

For what I have been doing with the can is just closing it up and using the metal cap as well. I only bought a quart and Ive gone through the majority of it already. I have a larger project that Ill buy a gallon for. Ive built two farmhouse style end tables and will build a matching coffee table and console table. The same "staining" process and waterlox will be used. This was kind of a experiment project.

Waterlox was purchased at Fitch's in Carboro.
 

Roy G

Roy
Senior User
You might rub it down with a Scotch-brite pad to get rid of the nubbies. I always seem to get a few specks from the air. You can't really see them but you can feel them.

Roy G
 

bluedawg76

New User
Sam
varnish doesn't really penetrate into the wood -it's a film on top. that's ok b/c it provides good protection. Number of coats really depends. I look for an even sheen under raking (low angle) light. Steel wool will smooth it out, but depending on how much finish build you have, you can sand through it in some places. If so, one more light coat will do it. I like to finish with wax and buff it -dark wax for dark colored woods and typical regular (non-tinted) wax for lighter woods. This will leave a smooth feel to it.
 

cyclopentadiene

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I generally use Waterlox as the go to finish as it is easy to apply and difficult to mess up. I generally like a deeper finish so I will add five or 6 hand rubbed coats with sanding at 400 grit between the first two coats, then 600 grit for the next coats and 800-1000 grit with the last coat. I do not like shiny so I avoid the high gloss and generally stick with the original satin. The 1000 grit takes away some of the sheen but the very light scratches it will leave are easily buffed out. If the piece is not exposed to any moisture, I will apply a couple of coats of Briwax (you can use the colored to darken the finish somewhat). However if there is water, the wax will spot. The wax really does not add protection but the first thing someone does is touch a woodworking project and wax makes it feel much smoother.

The advantage to a Waterlox finish is that if you find flaws or tool marks after the first couple of coats, or if the piece is scratched a year later, you can just sand the spot and reapply finish and never see the repair. This is much more difficult with other finishes.

The vinegar/steel wood and a few iron nails in the mix is often used for Oak or Cherry to ebonize the piece. I have done this with turnings and it looks similar to ebony and is much less expensive. I use a lot of ebony for screw plugs on furniture and have been trying to figure out how to ebonize the plugs and not impact the surrounding wood as ebony is torture on the tapered plug cutters.
 

The A Train

Adam
User
So heres the pics as it is right now. This last coat I put on is starting to stay on the surface. Its hard to explain, but it still has that wood feel and not a plasticy coating like heavy poly would leave. For this project I feel that it should suffice, but the other projects as I mentioned will get several more coats.
image.jpg
 

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cyclopentadiene

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That wood is really hard to surface and finish.

Perhaps overkill, but my strategy is:
I generally only work with walnut, cherry, mahogany or highly figured maple and will occasionally use exotics as accents. I generally sand 120, 180, 240,320, 400 before any finish. I also apply a coat of sanding sealer when working with Walnut. If I need a really hard finish, I spray a urethane top coat.

If I use poly, I generally use water based and spray the finish. I like this on maple as it tends to remain colorless and not tint the maple yellow.

Pine tends to really set off my allergies. Oak, hickory etc. do not work well for the type of pieces I build as they are much harder to shape with rasps and hand tools and tend to have long running grain that in my hands tends to splinter occasionally making them a little more difficult to get the finish I prefer.
 

Kent Adams

Kent Adams
User
Adam, I'm no expert on anything woodworking though I have worked with Waterlox a lot. I only have familiarity with Waterlox original sealer and gloss. I'm going to throw something out there though on the wood your using, which may or may not come in handy in the future. Those boxes look like wood that hasn't been sanded with a high grit and are naturally porous. I've had really good results with Howard's butcher block orange wax with this type of wood followed by a buffer. YMMV. Just a thought I had when looking at that wood.
 

danmart77

Dan
Corporate Member
Also to help preserve unused Waterlox: put marbles in the can until the finish is raised to the top of the can. I have success with this method, while the finish is 1/2" below the top of the can.
+1 on the marbles and a clear jar.
 

Jeff

New User
Jeff
"Smooth, unfinished pine ready for any finish or left raw".
From the HD spec sheet, but I don't know what their "smooth" means. The vinegar/steel wool treatment probably raised the grain (it's mostly water) so even after Waterlox (3-4x?) the pine wood feels and looks a bit rough. Probably ok for a functional and rustic utilitarian piece.

Ive built two farmhouse style end tables and will build a matching coffee table and console table. The same "staining" process and waterlox will be used. This was kind of a experiment project.
Carry on Adam. Your new pieces may be less rustic so send us some pics of the end tables for starters. Are they pine also and how have you prepped, sanded them, etc so far?

Your Waterlox investment is going to be sizable so protect it so that you can use it all (i.e., Bloxygen). I learned the hard way and trashed over half of my first quart of WL.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sw6-fd_sENg

BTW, don't pour unused WL back into the original can! :thumbs_do
 

The A Train

Adam
User
Thanks jeff. I was just checking the piece again and i believe it will serve its purpose as it stands. Im pretty happy with it anyway. Heres pics of the end tables I made earlier. I believe its pine. Made from 2x4's, 2x2's, 2x6's, and 1x12's.


 

The A Train

Adam
User
The living room furniture I plan on it being farmhouse style but I would like a nice finish on to keep as long as possible
 
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