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Thread: Shop Furniture Polycoat

  1. #1
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    Shop Furniture Polycoat

    I'm thinking that the folks who answer this are going to fall into two camps...those that do it and those that don't.
    OK....so I am constructing shop furniture and already have 4 or 5 pieces: [JS] saw stand, outfeedtable, some fancy sawhorses, [benchtop] DP stand is almost complete.
    I'm using a wipeon oil-based polyurethane to finish the furniture (big box 2x4s and BB Ply).
    The poly is varathane brand (HD) which I've thinned with mineral spirits 1:1 (or 50/50 if you prefer that notation )
    How many coats are good for shop furniture?
    Thanks
    "What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing.
    It also depends on what sort of person you are.

  2. #2
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    While I would like to make a simple answer to this, I can't. Historically, I only used BLO on work surfaces because it was easily renewable. When I built my auxiliary bench which is "multi-function" the outdoor rated MDF top and inserts got a couple brushed on coats of the Varathane "poly" because it was readily available and I like it better than the equivalent Minwax products for some unexplainable reason. When I recently and finally got around to properly flattening my main bench I made the very unconventional decision for me to do a film finish for better glue release, even understanding that it might get cut up a little over time. I did two brushed coats of the Varathane on the fresh, bare wood (purpleheart, cherry and a little bit of white oak) followed by flattening with 600 grit abrasive and then three wiped on coats of the same finish thinned to about 50%, give or take...which is the equivalent of about one brushed coat, more or less. (There's a thread about this) This is for work surfaces. For non-work surfaces, I just spray on my normal waterborne finishes...whatever is in the cabinet left over from projects.

    In the end, finish on shop furniture and work surfaces, while contributing to helping keep things clean, is mostly about what is comfortable for you appearance-wise. I happen to like my shop to look nice and "finished". Some folks are fine with bare surfaces that are functional and don't worry about what they look like aesthetically.
    Last edited by Jim Becker; 05-15-2024 at 11:09 AM.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Becker View Post
    While I would like to make a simple answer to this, I can't. Historically, I only used BLO on work surfaces because it was easily renewable. When I built my auxiliary bench which is "multi-function" the outdoor rated MDF top and inserts got a couple brushed on coats of the Varathane "poly" because it was readily available and I like it better than the equivalent Minwax products for some unexplainable reason. When I recently and finally got around to properly flattening my main bench I made the very unconventional decision for me to do a film finish for better glue release, even understanding that it might get cut up a little over time. I did two brushed coats of the Varathane on the fresh, bare wood (purpleheart, cherry and a little bit of white oak) followed by flattening with 600 grit abrasive and then three wiped on coats of the same finish thinned to about 50%, give or take...which is the equivalent of about one brushed coat, more or less. (There's a thread about this) This is for work surfaces. For non-work surfaces, I just spray on my normal waterborne finishes...whatever is in the cabinet left over from projects.

    In the end, finish on shop furniture and work surfaces, while contributing to helping keep things clean, is mostly about what is comfortable for you appearance-wise. I happen to like my shop to look nice and "finished". Some folks are fine with bare surfaces that are functional and don't worry about what they look like aesthetically.
    Thank you for the info Jim.
    The red hi-light is especially helpful... I now now how many [thinned] coats I need to do.
    My work surfaces will likely not get the workout yours do, so varathane (I think) will be sufficient. However, we shall see :-D


    "What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing.
    It also depends on what sort of person you are.

  4. #4
    Personally I would say zero coats, although the solid-core door outfeed/assembly top is getting some finish over time from drips and rags used to wipe off finishes- it has relatively thin veneer. The previous top from pine boards never had more than the occasional drips and spills. Work surfaces with finish are too slippery, IMO. The tool cart that I upgraded recently has shelves from old ply cabinet doors. They were the right size and a good use, but the finished surface doesn't give grip for the tools to stay put so I wish they were unfinished.

  5. #5
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    Patty, you say you're from southwest us. If that means southern California, or anyplace in the region that gets mineral spirits approved by the California Air Quality Board, I'd think again about making wipe-on yourself. The stuff we get now which is called mineral spirits is extremely extremely slow to evaporate. Like a coat of wipe-on made with it might take a week or more to cure. For wipe-on, I use Minwax Wipe-on Poly. I can do two coats a day, easy.

  6. #6
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    I have had no issues wiping on Min-Wax fast drying poly, full strength. I question if our local Ace hardware moves enough product that the product is "fresh" so I had been buying it from HD. When HD quit carrying it, I began ordering it from Amazon. Last year I discovered that the local Sherman-Williams stores (2) carry it so that is my current supplier.
    Ken

    So much to learn, so little time.....

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    Patty, you say you're from southwest us. If that means southern California, or anyplace in the region that gets mineral spirits approved by the California Air Quality Board, I'd think again about making wipe-on yourself. The stuff we get now which is called mineral spirits is extremely extremely slow to evaporate. Like a coat of wipe-on made with it might take a week or more to cure. For wipe-on, I use Minwax Wipe-on Poly. I can do two coats a day, easy.
    Jamie...I live in "the Grand Canyon State" :-D (metro Phoenix) and we do not [yet] have all those pesky "chemical regs" that you have to deal with.
    I think Walmart sells both kinds of mineral spirits-- CA approved, but also the "good stuff" :-D --- and I get the good stuff .
    Been doing wipe-on with the Varathane + mineral spirits (50/50) and it dries pretty fast. I can do subsequent coats every 8 hours or so.

    Re: my original post....I've actually been using thinned Varathane for some time now, but it finally occurred to me to ask what is typical # of coats for shop furniture (for those that do it).
    Last edited by Patty Hann; 05-15-2024 at 10:20 PM.
    "What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing.
    It also depends on what sort of person you are.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fitzgerald View Post
    I have had no issues wiping on Min-Wax fast drying poly, full strength. I question if our local Ace hardware moves enough product that the product is "fresh" so I had been buying it from HD. When HD quit carrying it, I began ordering it from Amazon. Last year I discovered that the local Sherman-Williams stores (2) carry it so that is my current supplier.
    Ken, you must be really practiced at it.
    I tried wiping on [oil-based] varathane thinned about 3:1 or 4:1 and I made mess of it.
    I can only imagine what it would have looked like if I had done it full strength.
    That is why I now thin 1:1 or maybe 2:1 but that is it.
    "What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing.
    It also depends on what sort of person you are.

  9. #9
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    Patty, when I first began using Min-Wax fast drying poly years ago, I had to thin it. Then I noticed it seemed to be thinner than previously. I began wiping it on without thinning it and experienced no issues. I am an old man and anything but fast. I haven't experienced any issues. HD switched to Varathane. I didn't want to relearn with a new product, so I began looking for new sources hopefully local, for Min-Wax fast drying poly. As someone said recently, I often get 2 coats on in 1 day. I typically put on 3 coats but have gone as many as 6 when I thought a surface would get heavy wear. When I put on many coats, I let each coat dry for a longer period of time between coats.
    Last edited by Ken Fitzgerald; 05-15-2024 at 11:13 PM.
    Ken

    So much to learn, so little time.....

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fitzgerald View Post
    Patty, when I first began using Min-Wax fast drying poly years ago, I had to thin it. Then I noticed it seemed to be thinner than previously. I began wiping it on without thinning it and experienced no issues. I am an old man and anything but fast. I haven't experienced any issues. HD switched to Varathane. I didn't want to relearn with a new product, so I began looking for new sources hopefully local, for Min-Wax fast drying poly. As someone said recently, I often get 2 coats on in 1 day. I typically put on 3 coats but have gone as many as 6 when I thought a surface would get heavy wear. When I put on many coats, I let each coat dry for a longer period of time between coats.
    Thank you for explaining.
    I'll probably us 6 coats of thinned (50/50) varathane for the work surfaces and 3 coats of same for the vertical surfaces.
    "What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing.
    It also depends on what sort of person you are.

  11. #11
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    I have four rules for shop infrastructure

    1- no coats on shop furniture
    2- it must be durable, so 13 ply BB for me
    3- if it has a top, it is laminated with black laminate
    4- rules 1-3 only apply to my shop, others can do whatever they want

    Cheers,

  12. #12
    There are lots of options. My primary (newer) bench with a White Ash top has a traditional BLO coating for renewability. My old bench, now an assembly and finishing table, had edging applied which sits 1/4" above the level of the top. This edging restrains 1/4" thick Masonite with a coat of wax on it. The idea is that when the Masonite gets too nasty I just flip it over to get a clean surface. My 2' x 4' sharpening bench with its double layer of 3/4" plywood top is set up similarly with edging and Masonite as the work surface.
    Dave Anderson

    Chester, NH

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