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I need some advice please. I recently got a batch of sticks done and applied Helmsman's water based spar urethane finish to them. I did about 4-6 coats each but I'm wondering if I left them a long enough drying time in between which was about 4-8 hours before applying the next coat? The reason I ask is that they have been sitting over a week and I can take my finger nail and scratch the surface and it marks!
Will they set, or should I re-sand? Should I be leaving water based urethane 24 hours between coats?
I checked Helmsman's directions and they said a re-ap can be applied after 4 hours.
Any help greatly appreciated.

Sean
 

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What are your weather conditions? If it is cool and wet it can take extra time to dry.

If the finish appears the way you want it to, I'd let them sit for a few days and see what happens, maybe bring them inside and let them sit by a fireplace or air vent where it is dry and warm if you can stand the smell :).
 

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I agree with JJireh's assessment. If the humidity is high it will take some time to thoroughly dry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi guys. We are quite cold here but fairly dry. They have been sitting inside the house where it's warm but humid. I'll take your advice and let them sit and see if they cure. Thanks.
 

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I don't know that I have any experience with water based urethanes, but my experience w. other varnishes, urethane and traditional, is that you didn't wait long enough between coats.

The uncured varnish from the earlier coats is trapped under successive layers of partially cured varnish. I knew some fellows that put multiple coats of urethane on table tops over a period of 10 - 14 days. That was back in the 1970's. The finish took 6 months to harden.

I just read that urethanes cure by exposure to moisture. I would have expected plain air and/or IR, and/or UV. My inclination would be to wipe a small portion of 1 stick w. some distilled water, and see if it firms up after a few days. If firm, might need some buffing to give a nice gloss.
 

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I use helmsmen spar urethane much of the time. I am have to deal with a lot of humidity here on the gulf. I beleive your stick will dry but it may take a week or so. As was suggested they should be in a dry place with some air movement terms 50 +. I have found the fallowing works well with spar urethane. My first 2 coat. I thin 50% with mineral spirits. The thinned mix will soak in to the wood ,sealing better and dry faster. I let each coat dry 24 hours or until dry. Cool and or damp will add to time. Also I do thin coat. The heaver the coat the longer to dry.
 

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Yes, I think I did put them on too quickly. I thought that when the urethane ceased to be tacky it would be ok to put on another coat. I'm pretty sure I rushed the finish. I've got some sticks that I used a wipe on poly and my nail slides right over without marking but then they were varnished in the summer. I sanded some of the sticks in question down pretty aggressively with 220 g paper and put on 1 coat of poly. I'll make sure it's hardened before I add anymore subsequent coats. And will also be mixing some spirits in next round. Good advice, thanks you guys.

Sean
 

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I have used Minwax polycrylic, a water based polyurethane, quite a bit. They recommend about 4 hrs between coats. My experience with it, I have pushed the time and applied a second coat when the polycrylic was dry to the touch w/o adverse results. The surface took about a day to dry. ( Though I have not used more than 2 coats)

I do see a couple potential problems from your description that may be causing your lack of cure issues.

1st; sanding to too fine a grit closes the pores of some woods and doesn't allow them to absorb finishes properly,especially a water born finish that will swell the wood fibers.

2nd: 6 coats of finish. When applying that many coats of any finish it is highly recommended to sand between coats for better adhesion of successive coats.

Finally DON'T use mineral spirits in water based urethane!!

In your initial post you stated that you used water based urethane. The Spar urethane CV3 uses is oil based. Using min spirits in a water based product won't work. Min spirits are oil based, oil and water don't mix.

A great stick or any project for that matter can be ruined by a poor finish. As the finish is the last step I catch myself trying to rush the process to complete the job. I have to slow myself down and allow the finish the proper time to cure.

Let us know how you get on.

Mark
 

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if you use a water based varnish try putting a mix of 25% varnish mixed with water 1st. It helps to penertrate the wood and when it lifts the wood fibre its simple tp give a light sanding before you applie the rest of the varnish.

I think a high gloss varnish isnt very good on sticks , it can make the stick slippery and chips easily, also when the varnish chips due to abuse of the stick you get water penertration and can send the wood black with mould in the chipped areas Like most here i just use a danish oil its easy to apply but any finishing oil will do.i do however varnish the toppers if i paint them but there has been so much chat here on oil finishs.with some good ideas.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ok,
Some very good info here and pointers in this thread. I appreciate all! First thanks Mark for reminding me about mixing my water based urethane with the oil based min spirits. I prob would have done that, no make that I would have done that. .
Next time around I'll try cutting the mix with cobalts suggestion of a portion of water.

Cobalt,

Being fairly new to this hobby I have to admit I like the look of shiny but have always had a bit of doubt that varnish was the most practical for a finish (aka) I like the idea of oil instead. Thanks for the info on some of the pitfalls with varnishes.
So, what do you guys use to buff a nice shine into your oil finished sticks, a cloth or...?
I've got a pretty extensive supply of Danish oil stain so no excuses.
 

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Sean,

I used to polish with 0000 steel wool. In a thread awhile back Gdenby brought up burnishing with a paper bag. I tried it and it works great.

A plain old grocery bag crumpled up and rubbed on a finished stick brings up a nice polished shine. The paper has the grit of 0000 steel wool or finer and the plus side is it's free!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Excellent, I'll give it a whirl! Also when sanding between coats of varnish what grit of paper do you use or do you use the steel wool, and second of all do you sand between coats of oil applications?
 

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I never varnish my shanks as i never remove the bark of them .I just use the varnish on the toppers if i want the natural look.

I just oil the shanks sometimes use gdenby idea of burnishing it with brown paper. that way you never see any chips and its simple enough to wipe it down with another coat if it looks like it needs it.The shanks may need a light quick wipe over with sandpaper but a very light one

the toppers just need a quick sand with 0000 steel wool between coats on the toppers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks cobalt. Do you varnish pretty much all cane tops that will see hand useage? Or is oil every so often on the handle sufficient?
 

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If i varnish the toppers you cant use oil, it wont penetrate the wood.you can only use oil on bare wood,something like danish oil or boiled linerseed oil, both work well . there are brands/ makes but i dont know what you call them there
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yes sorry let me explain, I know we oil first then varnish but what I was meaning was how does just oil standing alone as a finish

on a cane handle that will be seeing a fair bit of "hands on" useage? Should I be varnishing a cane handle or be satisfied with a re-oil

every so often?
 

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the avatar is my hiking pole its used regularly, both the one i use and my wifes has been made before or just as i jioned it.and they look just as good now . i do oil them when i think they need it.

just oil sveral times let them dry but give them 4-5 coats . the old saying is oil once a day for a week 1 a week for a mnth and once a mnth for a year. but you dont need to go that far.

As for revarnishing it depends on the finish you like .the only hands on useage i have seen on my wifes hiking pole is caused by the fact i cut a design into the shank and filled it with gold leaf.the gold leaf looks worn but i like the look of it it looks old, the shank however just looks the same as when i 1st did it.

So my advice would be do it the way you like best.

gdenby is good on finishing and using oil he has tried quite a few different ways if you can find some old post on finishing its worth looking at.But i just like the use of danish oil it helps preserve the shank well , but i dont remove the bark of a shank after all its the best protection nature can offer if you oil it occasionally
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Good thanks for taking the time to help me out. I'm going to try to use oil a bit more often.

Cheers
 

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a high gloss shank for me distracts from the stcks use and if a low relief carving is used ir will spoil the looks of the shank, when i carve puppets i never use a gloss finish it does cause a glare where as a matt finish asorbs light more and people see all the feature on it.
I dont consider a high gloss important ,for me its about the toppers. It makes them distinctive and stand out .Its not to everyones taste but i do get more enquires as they do stand out and allows people to express there character.and people remember them. Most people aks me to carve one with a individual topper of there choice or i ask them what they like and may do a couple of quick drawings for ideas and show them
I have never done a stick without a topper or a thumb piece of some kind
Still i think a rams horn crook/market stick cant be beaten by anything, think it shows quality/craftmanship and dedication
 
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