Finishing a Metal and Wood Assembly

A furnituremaker struggles to find a finish that will work on a rough-contoured surface that includes both metal and wood. April 29, 2013

I build a combination of reclaimed wood and iron furniture. I cannot seem to find a poly that doesn't yellow. I'd like to seal both my wood and metal with a poly with a flat finish. Is there such thing in oil based, or do I have to use oil based? I've heard water based dries more clearly, but it's not as durable. On this project, a customer wanted me to cut the brass off of 1400 shotgun shells and glue then to plywood for a coffee table for her husband. Needless to say, "multiple thin and even coats would have taken years. Finally I became frustrated and poured out about a cup onto the surface. It was too thick but what's done is done - dry on top, gel down deep! Would heaters, Japan drier, or just time (that I donít have) help?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor J:
Next time try Coronado aquaplastic - dull poly, water-based. Or any type of
water-base product by General Finishes. I believe General Finish professional coatings require a spray application only.

From contributor F:
What's done is done. For future purpose, I think water-base finish is perfect. It is easy to dry and also durable.

From contributor A:
One thing that everyone is suggesting is to use water-based products. I'm not so sure that I would. The brass on those shells probably isnít of the highest quality brass and may even have some zinc or other metal content. Unless it's been polished out like a trumpet in high quality brass I'm betting that it will do what normally happens to most metals when exposed to water. It may not happen immediately or it may not even happen at all but it may be something to consider and plan for. I wish you had more time to run a few tests.

From the original questioner:
I seem to do everything two or three times, I guess I like to lose money! As for what I have done, will the oil-based ever dry? Or is it similar to leaving the lid off of the can where it just gets a thick film and six months later you can still poke a hole in it? I hate to cut 1500-2000 hulls again and then sand flat as it takes forever. I know next time to charge triple! If this one would ever dry I'd like to keep it since it's really cool looking.

From contributor R:
Have you thought about using an epoxy finish?

From contributor M:
I am not sure what exactly you are using but if you are talking something like Minwax oil based poly (or similar) I would say regardless of how thick it is it should dry. Having done a lot of floor refinishing over the years I have seen Minwax and other oil poly's poured in knots 1/2 deep or better repeatedly to fill them up. Itís a terrible way to do it but none the less I have seen it done many times. Iím not sure of your situation or how thick/deep the finish actually applied.

From contributor P:
For the amount of filling required you should probably use a poured epoxy bar top finish.

From the original questioner:
Ok, I've started over. Chalk that up to experience. I've had two suggestions that both sound right, water based poly, and epoxy.

From contributor R:
Before you decide look into the variety of epoxy finishes that are available keep in mind that some are sprayable. There also might be a 2-part LP that works.

From contributor T:
Any time you are trying to encapsulate something in your finish I would say to use epoxy.

From contributor P:
I would suggest pourable bar top epoxy, one coat.

From contributor D:
I would encourage you to use System3's Mirror Coat. It is still considered a soft finish like Minwax poly. Many people put a sheet of glass over the project you described to protect the finish. The oil vs. waterbased argument is old news. The argument became solvent vs. waterborne about seven years ago. I would also look at Target Oxfords products. They have crystal clear high build waterborne that could be your answer.