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Wax on Open-Pore Wood?

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  • Wax on Open-Pore Wood?

    I'm finishing up several small carvings made from different types of wood. I've applied five coats of wipe-on poly, and all I have left to do is rub them out once they cure, using synthetic 0000 steel wool and paste wax.

    Several of these woods have large, open-pores (zebra wood, walnut, padauk). I've made a few bandsaw boxes out of the same wood in the past (though with an oil finish), and after applying wax the wood developed white dots from wax getting stuck in the pores.

    Other than filling the pores beforehand, is there any way to avoid this issue when applying wax? Will I have the same issue using wipe-on poly as I had with oil? Are there any application methods that may avoid this (e.g., brush instead of cloth)?

    I have scraps of each type of wood that I also finished with poly that I'm going to use to test any different methods, but thought I would ask the brain trust for any tips first. As always, thanks!


  • #2
    Hmmm, I have built a lot of furniture out of walnut, but can/t speak for the other varieties. I have never had any issues with wax getting stuck in the pores, and I used Johnson's paste wax and 0000 steel wool on every project I finished.

    I would say if you have issues with that, you might get a hair dryer, turn it on high and run it over the areas that are white, and it might get the extra wax to melt. Just my .02!

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    • #3
      Liquid finishes should get sucked into the open pores by capillary action. With no air (oxygen), that may stay liquid and weep for a long time.
      The problem with pore paste fillers is that you have to sand them back to see the raw wood surface.

      tbox has a great suggestion with the hair dryer. If that isn't hot enough (for safety reasons) then you might need a real "heat gun".
      Brian T

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      • #4
        I'm going to give the wax a shot, and if it doesn't work out I'll try the heat method. Thanks very much!

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        • #5
          If an object is finished with poly, what benefit is there to applying wax that will be a dust attractant?
          Arthur

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          • #6
            I agree with Arthur. All I think you need to do is after the poly dries thoroughly, buff the surface with a crumpled brown paper bag to get rid of any dust motes. The surface will be smooth as the proverbial baby's rear end...

            Claude
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Claude View Post
              I agree with Arthur. All I think you need to do is after the poly dries thoroughly, buff the surface with a crumpled brown paper bag to get rid of any dust motes. The surface will be smooth as the proverbial baby's rear end...

              Claude
              My procedure exactly!
              Arthur

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Claude View Post
                I agree with Arthur. All I think you need to do is after the poly dries thoroughly, buff the surface with a crumpled brown paper bag to get rid of any dust motes. The surface will be smooth as the proverbial baby's rear end...

                Claude
                I might try this before attempting the wax. I've read that Flexner recommends this. I hope it will be sufficient to remove all the bumps, etc. I think the rag I used to apply the poly on the last coat left some lint that needs to be knocked down (prior to adding the last coat, I sanded with 400).

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                • #9
                  The very coarsest steel wool does not have round strands. The strands are flat.
                  Sandpapers always shred the surface, that steel wool cuts off raised grain like a thousand chisels.
                  Then, the brown paper bag trick.
                  Brian T

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Robson Valley View Post
                    The very coarsest steel wool does not have round strands. The strands are flat.
                    Sandpapers always shred the surface, that steel wool cuts off raised grain like a thousand chisels.
                    Then, the brown paper bag trick.
                    So are you recommending that I use steel wool and then the brown paper bag trick? That was my inclination. I'm using the synthetic pads, so I thought I would start with Grey 000, then White 0000, then paper bag. Thoughts?

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JPA77 View Post

                      I might try this before attempting the wax. I've read that Flexner recommends this. I hope it will be sufficient to remove all the bumps, etc. I think the rag I used to apply the poly on the last coat left some lint that needs to be knocked down (prior to adding the last coat, I sanded with 400).
                      That's why I use spray poly...the bag definitely works effectively, too. No need for the steel wool unless the wood needs smoothing too, as opposed to just smoothing the finish, in my experience.
                      Arthur

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                      • #12
                        I've never used sanding pads. Very conservative selection of finishing materials here in the village!

                        I'll apply one coat of finish to a carving, usually MinWax Tung Oil Protective Finish (TOPF). Looks satin but it raises some grain.
                        Wait until I cannot smell it. . . . might be 5-7 days.

                        Now, a gentle rub with the flat steel wool to cut off all the raised grain. Do not have to do that again. Just once.
                        Your finger tips will tell you when you got it all. Be gently to skim over the surface.

                        Four coats of TOPF is water-wet glossy, if you need that. There's no sanding needed.

                        I learned this from a professional painter during a house redecorate.
                        He was painting a hard Douglasfir molding to be used as a dining room chair-rail.
                        Dfir gets really fuzzy (spiral thickening in the S2) but that can be totally shaved off.
                        Brian T

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Claude View Post
                          I agree with Arthur. All I think you need to do is after the poly dries thoroughly, buff the surface with a crumpled brown paper bag to get rid of any dust motes. The surface will be smooth as the proverbial baby's rear end...

                          Claude
                          I tried out the brown paper bag. Worked amazingly well! Thanks for the tip!

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                          • #14
                            Also, I did not have a problem with the wax showing white on open-pored woods. I must have done something else wrong in my other projects.

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