POLY Tutorial: How to Finish Your Table

Would it really matter going with the grain with poly on the wood?

Ultimately it’s up to the furniture maker, but for me I prefer staining or applying poly with the grain. You want to avoid brush strokes going against the grain as it can distract from the beauty of the wood and the piece you have built.

No matter how good a brush I use or what-when I brush it on it always has bubbles in it. I use Minwax Spar Urethane. How do you keep bubbles out?

Applying multiple coats helps as we’ve dealt with bubbles as well and notice it’s always worse on the first coat. Make sure your poly is mixed well before using, that way your piece is completely clean and clear of all dust and that the environment you’re working in is as dust free as possible Also when applying the poly do your best to brush it on in one direction. Lastly play with the amount you apply. If you typically apply a heavy coat, try a lighter coat and see if that happens (or vice versa).

How many coats are recommended? I usually do 3 on top and 2 coats on legs and underside. What do you suggest?

That’s a great amount of coats right there! It really all depends on preference and what you’re using the piece for and where. If it’s going outside you may want to apply more! The more coats you apply, the smoother it usually gets as well. Ultimately at least two coats on the top is preferable unless you want a very rough feel to the finished product.

With there being so many brands of poly what would you recommend as using?

I can’t give out specific brands at this time but if I ever can I will! Ultimately try out a few brands and test out their finishes and see which one you prefer!

The first table had scratches, did you not need to sand the stain too?

When a table has already been finished and has scratches you usually just need to sand the poly and reapply unless the scratches go through to the stain. If that’s the case then you might be looking at a total refinish job which is obviously more complicated. In the example we used, the scratches were limited to the poly layer so we only had to do a light sanding and then re apply the poly.

Do you poly over chalk paint ever?

At this time we don’t use a lot of chalk paint so I really can’t answer that. However, there are a lot of great resources out there in the chalk paint world. One is Maria Bosak at Eco Chic Boutique up in Fargo, ND…look her up!

What level grit?

For sanding between coats of poly we recommend 320 grit.

What brand & color is the stain on the table you are applying the poly to?

That was actually a custom stain color.

Will tack cloth work?

Tack cloths work great for cleaning and other applications…just depends on preference!

Sometimes when I poly I get brush marks?

You may not be applying enough. Also depending on the poly finish you are using brush strokes may be more likely (i.e. satin or high gloss)

What gloss do you use? Satin? Other?

We use Satin or Flat almost exclusively but will use others if needed.

Where do you get mineral spirits?

Any home improvement store usually carries them. Also paint stores always carry mineral spirits.

When’s the next Woodwork?

We don’t know yet…but we’ll let you know as soon as we do…provided we get the opportunity to do more : )

I need to know if it’s necessary to wax after poly has cured?

This is not necessary but it’s ultimately a preference thing.

Did you condition the wood before you stained it?

Not typically but I have before and it’s a great step if you want to take it.

Semi gloss??

Nope, satin.

You’re using polyacrilic not polyurethane right?

Correct we use water based.

Can you do a tutorial on finishing with chalk paint?

We don’t use it enough at this point to do a tutorial but if we ever do we’ll look into it!

What brand brush?

I can’t give out brands but I will say I try and buy high grade brushes and then take care of them so they will last.

Thanks for tuning in,

Clint Harp

Comments (1)

  • Zachary Perry

    Hi, I am building a bed frame and will be staining it a dark walnut. What Poly do you recommend. POLYURETHANE or Polycrylic, water or oil based? I am looking for a crystal clear finish, but not shinny.

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