Brush marks in my finish - Router Forums
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-12-2017, 08:53 AM Thread Starter
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Default Brush marks in my finish

I recently decided to try a stain-poly mix when I was finishing a couple of projects. My problem is that I can not eliminate brush marks from showing in the dried finish. I have tried 4 times now to get a final coat on but each time I get a few brush marks which mar the appearance. I am about ready to give up and just top it off with either a wipe-on poly or a spray poly. Anybody have any luck using the stain-poly mix?
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-12-2017, 09:31 AM
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Bill I know you already know this but be sure and use a high quality brush and take light long strokes for the final strokes. Also don't forget to clean your brush. It will last for years.
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-12-2017, 10:12 AM
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I think it's because the finish is drying too fast. I don't remember this being a problem many years ago when finishes took 24 hours to dry but it did become a problem when they went to 1 to 4 hours drying time. The finish dries before surface tension can self level the finish. Try using it under the slowest possible drying environment and maybe use a foam brush for the final coat. Make sure you have removed the brush strikes from previous layers or they will telegraph through. Another possibility is to use a hair dryer on any brush strokes you see. It might work. It's one way to get rid of bubbles in a finish so it might smooth out brush strokes too. Otis uses a propane torch for that. It might work too but you would have to be more careful and I wouldn't use it on an oil based finish.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-12-2017, 11:01 AM
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why not just wipe it on?

Cant see there would be much difference between a stain poly and a wipe on poly.

With the wipe on you can literally wipe ecerything off after applying. It might take two or three coats, but there will be no brush marks.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-12-2017, 11:35 AM
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I recently saw a video of a finishing class in which the teacher used a folded paper towel instead of a brush to apply the poly. No brush marks at all in any of the items (mostly picture frames) I've made using the method. The poly is pretty volatile, and it may have thickened from sitting open. Where you live is pretty hot so drying time has got to be pretty short, so thinning the poly a bit probably wouldn't hurt. But do try folding paper towels into a brush shape and applying each coat of poly fairly quickly.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-12-2017, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by DesertRatTom View Post
I recently saw a video of a finishing class in which the teacher used a folded paper towel instead of a brush to apply the poly. No brush marks at all in any of the items (mostly picture frames) I've made using the method. The poly is pretty volatile, and it may have thickened from sitting open. Where you live is pretty hot so drying time has got to be pretty short, so thinning the poly a bit probably wouldn't hurt. But do try folding paper towels into a brush shape and applying each coat of poly fairly quickly.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-13-2017, 07:58 AM
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I usually have better luck with foam brushes and the hair dryer / heat gun idea works well too for any bubbles.
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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-13-2017, 08:02 AM
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Hi Bill, I apply Zar polyurethane all the time, but never a stain. As others have said, use a paper towel. I use the blue shop towels that I cut into 1/4. Then I fold until it is about 2" square. I dilute the poly almost 50% with quality mineral spirits. I apply 2-coats a day. No runs and no brush makes and no sanding between coats.

Most woods after a couple coats I apply a heavy coat with a 1" foam brush and go over it with the orbital sander on medium speed using a 400 grit wet / dry sandpaper. This really mades the wood slick and seems to help the grain. I let that dry for 12 hours or so then apply a couple more coats with the towel. Then I use a 500 grit foam pad that fits on the orbital sander that I go over the piece lightly to removed any grit or dust. Then apply the last coat of poly.

Hope this help. Malcolm / Kentucky USA
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-13-2017, 08:21 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Cherryville Chuck View Post
I think it's because the finish is drying too fast. I don't remember this being a problem many years ago when finishes took 24 hours to dry but it did become a problem when they went to 1 to 4 hours drying time. The finish dries before surface tension can self level the finish. Try using it under the slowest possible drying environment and maybe use a foam brush for the final coat. Make sure you have removed the brush strikes from previous layers or they will telegraph through. Another possibility is to use a hair dryer on any brush strokes you see. It might work. It's one way to get rid of bubbles in a finish so it might smooth out brush strokes too. Otis uses a propane torch for that. It might work too but you would have to be more careful and I wouldn't use it on an oil based finish.
I have been using a foam brush on the last coat. I think the drying time might be the culprit here. That plus the poly getting thicker from being open. I might try cutting it a bit and see how that works.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 07-13-2017, 08:25 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by DesertRatTom View Post
I recently saw a video of a finishing class in which the teacher used a folded paper towel instead of a brush to apply the poly. No brush marks at all in any of the items (mostly picture frames) I've made using the method. The poly is pretty volatile, and it may have thickened from sitting open. Where you live is pretty hot so drying time has got to be pretty short, so thinning the poly a bit probably wouldn't hurt. But do try folding paper towels into a brush shape and applying each coat of poly fairly quickly.
Tom I think you are right in saying the poly has thickened up. I am going to try cutting it a bit and see if that works. I use foam brushes but I am going to try the paper towel and see how that does.
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