We have just built our first Bubinga project and have had finish problems. We used Minwax wipe on poly and while we have used that finish with great success with mahogany and many domestic hardwoods, we are having trouble with "dry spots" with the Bubinga. The finish appears to sit on the surface of this dense material more than other species. We are having trouble getting an even finish on it. Does anyone have any ideas?
From contributor J:
Just thinking out loud, but I have read about wood conditioners. I think they are sort of an isolator between the real finish and the wood, and would protect against any reaction issues that appear to be what you’re facing.
We always use natural finishes, so staining wasn't an option. The dry spots were appearing sporadically and building finish over them just compounded the issue. We normally rub down with 600 or 1200 grit between coats of the poly wipe on, but here we used 320 and it would work, but we would get a few new spots in subsequent coats. We have considered buffing or pumice/rottenstone to possibly work over the panels.
That being said, I have sprayed Bubinga and nearly every other oily wood that's commonly turned with pre-cats and conversion varnish. All you have to do is wipe the entire surface down with a cloth soaked in lacquer thinner to remove the surface oils. I have things I sprayed three years ago that look great to this day. The thinner-wipe may help with your wipe-on poly, just don't wipe the poly with lacquer thinner - only the wood first.