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Old 07-08-2009, 03:07 PM
mckenziedrums mckenziedrums is offline
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Charlotte, NC
Posts: 231
Default "Popping" the grain with water based finishes...

I for one, LOVE water based top coats... I'm relatively new to woodworking but have been finishing drum shells and putting them together for a while now. When I started I was using tung oil (easy enough to use... hard to mess up... looks GREAT...) and then graduated on to using automotive grade polyurethane to get a more durable finish. Well cleaning my gun with nasty solvents, etc got old pretty quick so I ended up settling in with Target Coatings water based stuff. Though I hear I REALLY need to try Crystalac so that's next on my list of things to try...

Anyways the issue with water based is that it really doesn't bring out the grain like an oil or other solvent based finish will. So my compromise has been a 3-4 layer system that gives me that "under glass" look but with the warmth of an oil underneath.

Products I typically use:
Waterlox modified tung oil (the basic sealer/finish is good for this)
Zinnser SealCoat (shellac "sanding" sealer)
Waterbased sealer and or top coat of your choice

It's pretty simple really... Just give your piece one or two light coats of the waterlox (pure tung takes entirely tooooo long to dry) and let it cure for a couple days. After that seal it with 1-2 coats of the SealCoat. SealCoat is an EXCELLENT barrier coat in that it is pretty much compatible with everything I've ever sprayed on it. Once that's cured you can top with anything you'd like to spray and not have to worry about compatibility with the oil on the bottom.

Here's a birdseye maple drum shell that I finished like this (prior to wet sanding and buffing):

The finished drum:

That picture doesn't do the finish justice... Was before I had a nice tent to take my photos in. The first photo really shows how the wood glows.
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