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Alternative to Wipe-On Poly

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by Telegraph, May 15, 2014.

  1. Telegraph

    Telegraph TDPRI Member

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    Okay:

    I've finished several guitars. I've used rattle-can lacquer, rattle-can poly, tru-oil, brush on poly, wipe-on poly, and others, so this isn't my first rodeo. I'm building a new 8-string lap steel this summer and I need a good finish, but my circumstances have changed since I last did a finish. I have a 1-year old, so can't do anything too toxic and I don't have money for a spray equipment. I did my last guitar with wipe on poly and it came out well, but I spent literally weeks sanding, recoating, leveling, and fighting dusk before I finally rubbed out a good gloss finish with no witness lines. It's safe to say I hate wipe-on poly, but it's cheap, low toxicity, and I have my wiping technique down.

    I would really love an alternative. It would need to be:

    1.) Clear (although some ambering is fine)
    2.) Hard. This will be a gigging instrument and I'm building it to take a beating.
    3.) Low-odor or non-toxic.
    4.) Wipable or brushable.

    I know tru-oil is popular for this type of thing, but I'm not happy with it's final hardness/durability. Something water borne would be really nice, but it's not necessary. Something that burns-in and doesn't leave witness lines would be REALLY nice, but I'm not holding my breath.

    So, what do you masters of finishing have to say? Am I looking for the impossible? Should I just suck it up and go with the wipe on?

    Any ideas welcome.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. fretman_2

    fretman_2 Friend of Leo's

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    Good luck with that man (don't mean to sound negative)! I'm, by no means, a finishing expert, but it seems there are pro's and con's to every finishing regime. I've gone to satin wipe-on poly as the best of all the worlds...and with out trying to do all the pore filling...just leave a little open grain. Still beautiful and a lot more forgiving.

    Rob at Fret Tech suggested that on his website I believe.
     
  3. Telegraph

    Telegraph TDPRI Member

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    Yeah, I know it's a lot to ask. I've done tons of research and not come up with much, but there's a lot of people on here who know WAY more than me so I thought I'd at least ask before I give up.
     
  4. BartS

    BartS Friend of Leo's

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    Honestly you must of done it wrong. Wipe on poly is pretty easy only takes a couple days coating it 3 times a day. Wipe it on. Let it dry. Hit it really quick with 500 or 600 grit just to get anything that settled on the finish off. Tack cloth it, then poly it again. You shouldn't really have to wet sand when your done it should be smooth.

    You can thin some lacquer 60/40 or what ever mix feels good to you and brush it on. Your still going to be doing some sanding. Brush marks sand out though. Not easy but not bad on the fumes not as bad as spraying at least.
     
  5. Lucretia

    Lucretia Tele-Holic

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    I've been wet sanding poly and drying, seems to work better than dry sanding, plus I don't have a tack cloth ;)

    Also doesn't smell much.
     
  6. fretman_2

    fretman_2 Friend of Leo's

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    The little dust nibs that settle down on the sticky still drying finish are the main problem with gloss Poly. They don't show nearly as bad with Satin.
     
  7. Tom Pettingill

    Tom Pettingill Tele-Holic

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    Being that some of my favorite products are no longer available in CA, I've been testing some Enduro-Var from General Finishes and like it quite well. Its a water based urethane varnish and quite tough. It is not for wiping, but brushes and levels very well, though I've been spraying it. It kicks off very quick, nitro like quick, so dust bunny nibs would be minimal depending on your environment. Once cured it can be polished to a high gloss.
     
  8. FallsRockShop

    FallsRockShop Tele-Holic Vendor Member

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    Give KTM-9 a try. It's not cheap, but it fully crosslinks with subsequent coats, dries fast, and cures to a hard finish in a week or two. Buffs out really nice too!
     
  9. jstream

    jstream Tele-Holic

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    EM 9000 if you want a poly
     
  10. Telegraph

    Telegraph TDPRI Member

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    Those last few suggestions are really helpful. I've looked into EM-6000 many times, but people's experiences wiping or brushing it seem to be mixed.
     
  11. Telegraph

    Telegraph TDPRI Member

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    Tom:

    The Enduro-Var does look good. What kind of brush do you use? How many coats do you do for a durable finish? Also, I have generally wet-sanded my finishes with 3M wet/dry up to about 1500 grit and then used rubbing compound and polish. Will a process like that work on Enduro Var? If not, what do you recommend for buffing by hand?

    I know that's a lot of questions. Thanks in advance!
     
  12. Lucretia

    Lucretia Tele-Holic

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    I using rustins poly, it does not have a strong smell
     
  13. bob1234

    bob1234 Tele-Afflicted

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    Barring subjective differences with "hard", this product doesn't exist.
     
  14. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I used to love Bartley's wipe-on poly. Relatively low odor, hard, nice finish that flowed out amazingly for a wipe on. Then it went away.

    I now use General Finishes wipe on poly, probably has less objectional odor then the Bartley's used to, but still applies very nicely, and forms a reasonably tough finish.

    That or one of the water based ones, if odor, low toxicity are high priorities.
     
  15. Tom Pettingill

    Tom Pettingill Tele-Holic

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    I mainly sprayed the finished project, but for sample testing I used a foam brush and it laid down well. If you are going to brush it on, work in long full wet strokes to a wet edge. It kicks off very fast so don't try and over work it, lay it down and walk away. As to how many coats, I'd say you want at least 4. For final polishing, I let it cure about a week, wet sanded to 2000, and buffed it out with Meguires #9 and a foam pad on my drill.
     
  16. bblumentritt

    bblumentritt Tele-Afflicted

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    I use Rust-o-leum Polyurethane Satin Interior, and I'm pretty happy with it.
     
  17. tvvoodoo

    tvvoodoo Tele-Afflicted

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    Future acrylic floor polish - seriously. look into it
     
  18. macaroonie

    macaroonie Friend of Leo's

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    Some of these water based flooring coatings are formulated to be hard and durable , might be worth a look.
    Junckers has one but you will have US brands. Your local flooring wholesaler will have it in caged tanks , ask nice and they will pour you off a cupful as a tester.
    Easy to apply , as to buffing and polishing well who knows.
     
  19. drmcclainphd

    drmcclainphd Tele-Afflicted

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    I'd take issue with your wipe on technique. I've been favoring wipe on polyurethane and polyacrylic (the water based version) for quite a while now. I use microfiber towels wetted with it and rub it on like polishing, another coat as soon as the previous is dry, for anywhere from 4 to 8 coats. Never have the problems you did.

    As for other, look into epoxy. Premium No-Blush: http://www.epoxyusa.com/Premium_No_Blush_marine_epoxy_p/me05.htm

    Non-hazmat, low odor, thick clear coat, but it's very thick so you'll need to learn to brush it. Not non-toxic, so you'll have to use rubber gloves (ask your doctor for a few pair). It was originally for marine use, but I've used it for carbon composite lay ups for aerospace as well as guitar finishes. It takes 24 hours to set, so if it has brush lines after an hour or two, a rag wetted with acetone will smooth it. But you can learn to brush it on then smooth it with the brush and get no lines. Took me a little practice.
     
  20. Telegraph

    Telegraph TDPRI Member

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    This thread has been SO helpful. The suggestions have given me tons of new directions to research. Thanks to everyone.

    On another note, there have been several suggestions that I just don't know how to use wipe-on poly. This is certainly possible, although I followed the directions and have been using the stuff for literally years. Why did I have problems when others didn't? Two possibilities.

    1.) I'm going for a different type of finish than others and I have a different idea of what constitutes "good". Maybe my expectations are too high.

    2.) I live in the Central Valley of California where it's hot (114 degrees in the shade last summer), dry (less than 30 percent humidity at the moment) and has the most polluted air in the country (I'm not exaggerating.) Other builders may live in parts of the country with vastly different environments and thus be able to get better results.

    I never said that wipe on poly is a bad product, just that it wasn't working for me. Thus, my search for an alternative.

    Just for comparison, I've attached a pic of my last finish.

    Anyway, thanks again for all the suggestions. Keep them coming!
     

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