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Do not use steel wool

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  • Do not use steel wool

    Greetings everyone. I recently began using acrylic polyurethane for comfort birds that I am making. In the directions on the can, they stress Do not use steel wool in between coats. I certainly want to get a good finish at the end. Why don’t the want you to use steel wool? What would be the best thing to use in between coats?

  • #2
    Steel wool fibres tend to break off and lodge in the finish. These fragments can be too small to see until they start rusting. Acrylic PE is probably (I don't know) water based, if so, these fragments will rust and show up as brown spots in the finish. You may be able to find some 3M Scotchbrite abrasive pads at your hardware store. These should be OK. Or, check out a different kind of finish. I am glad you checked the label before starting the work.

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    • #3
      Very fine steel wool has round fibers. They are delicate and break off very easily. I would not recommend using that stuff at all.
      Polish metal surfaces. Never wood.

      Instead, the very coarsest steel wool of all (Bulldog 4X for us up here) has flat strands which do not break.
      They cut like a million chisels.
      Once your first finish coat has set up hard, do a gentle wipe with the steel wool.
      It cuts off all the raised grain and you don't have to do it ever again.

      Hard enamel oil base paint on Douglas-fir chair rail molding. Minwax Tung Oil Protective Finish on a carving.
      What amazed me was that the steel wool does not cut into the finish. Go easy. Your fingertips will tell you when you're done.
      Brian T

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      • #4
        Use either 3M Scotchbrite red abrasive pads (equivalent to a 00 steel wool) or Scotchbrite grey abrasive pads (equivalent to 000 steel wool) for your finishing touch. No problems with rust marks in your finish with either one of these. (Acrylic craft paints are usually water based.) Can't find the Scotchbrite pads? Try Mr. Clean Magic Eraser instead.

        Tinwood

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        • #5
          Tinwood: can you supply 3M product numbers for those abrasive pads?
          I see 10 kinds of pads in the Home Hardware catalog. I think I recognize the green ones.
          I use those in my kitchen. I see pink and maybe grey.

          The village HH doesn't have everything in stock but the next supply truck is only a week away!
          Brian T

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          • #6
            You might consider using a crinkled up brown paper bag. It really does a good job, and you don't get too much removal like you would with a ScotchBrite pad or fine sand paper. I would also suggest using a tack cloth between 'sandings'...

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Robson Valley View Post
              Tinwood: can you supply 3M product numbers for those abrasive pads?
              I see 10 kinds of pads in the Home Hardware catalog. I think I recognize the green ones.
              I use those in my kitchen. I see pink and maybe grey.

              The village HH doesn't have everything in stock but the next supply truck is only a week away!
              Sorry RV, got mine at a Parts Source auto store. Threw the packaging away to save space in my jam packed abrasive storage drawer. That's the problem when you are a closet hoarder!

              Tinwood

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              • #8
                I guess the real deal is for people to realize that there are several different grades of steel wool for different purposes.
                And, there are different grades of abrasive pads. I thought that 3M green was all there was.
                Brian T

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                • #9
                  If these are the Pro 3M pads - some have GRIT in them. Carbide. That is almost as bad as rusty wire. Sandy face. The abrasive needs to be cemented strongly to be used with finishes.
                  Martin - I have large red and blue boxes of the gritty stuff to make metal shine or clean it to weld. One has to wear gloves or the hands get sanded also.

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                  • #10
                    Find some coarse steel wool with the flat strands for smoothing, not shredding, wood.
                    The whole idea of grit surfaces which disintegrate on my carvings does not happen any more.
                    Brian T

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