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Thread: Minwax frustrations

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    St. Louis, MO

    Minwax frustrations

    Two recurring frustrations with Minwax:
    1) I always have a difficult time getting an acceptable finish with Minwax polyurethane right out of the can. It seems that every time i use it, i have to thin it some or i have a tremendous amount of work between coats to get it smooth.
    2) Their metal in their quart cans is too thin. The last 3 times i've purchased Minwax in the small cans, i wind up mangling either the lid or the trough around the perimeter that the lid sits in. The metal is so thin that the lid tends to bend and the trough bends up just trying to lift the lid off with a standard opener. I'm working it around the perimeter, not simply trying to pry the lid off in one quick motion. I'm being quite careful, but, again, the metal seems too flimsey. Then, the can won't seal properly when i need to close it. I don't have this problem with other cans - just theirs.
    To top it off, i called them to recommend they use thicker metal on their small cans, and they immediately started talking to me like i was metally challenged. It was all my fault. No other complaints at all. Must be me.

    I don't discount that i may be doing something wrong - i'm open to input.
    I'm no brain surgeon, but their response put me off.

    Sorry for the rant, but i'd really like suggestions on other poly products that any of you may like using. I've been getting the Minwax because it's conveniently on the shelves of the big orange store in my neighborhood, but i think i'd like to try some of their competition.

    Any suggestions either on how to use their product more successfully or on other brands to try???

    Thanks in advance.

    Paul Hubbman

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Indianapolis area
    Sorry Paul--no help here. I agree with Steve.
    Last edited by Ron Jones; 10-16-2007 at 11:47 PM.


    "Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."
    Vince Lombardi

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Paul, that kind of treatment by a customer service rep. is unacceptable. There have been more than just a couple times, I look up the President or CEO of the company at Thomas Register and write a paper letter to him. Always get positive responses.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Floydada, Tx
    Maybe it is time to switch brands. I like Varathane as it is thicker and takes less coats for it to build up.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Hamilton, New Zealand
    Cant help you with your second problem but can with the first.

    Now we don't have mini wax here so I'm not familiar with the brand.
    I assume you are talking about this

    When using oil based urethanes you should always thin it 10% for the first 2 or 3 coats. It even tells you that on some of the brands we have here.

    The idea is to firstly fill the wood pores and provide a base coat, that is followed with a little sanding and a couple of coats to build up the base. Then sand with 240, if you want a gloss finish thats glass smooth you will need about 6 to 8 good coats. The last coat I apply 5% thinned.

    Thinning allows for faster drying times, a more even coverage and greater control if your brushing. If your spraying you should be thinning as a matter of coarse.

    To finish with a really nice gloss final coat(s) and your brushing the best way is to use a feathering action with the brush, and you must use thinned poly to do this. Its a little hard to describe, but essentially you load the brush, pat of the excess in the tin and stroke the brush evenly without pressure being applied. The brush position is almost laid flat. The idea here is not to have the tip of the bristle dragging in the poly but rather you slide the bristles along the surface. This allows the poly to relax across the surface and settle more evenly as you haven't created large furrows through the finish.

    I'll post a pic or two tomorrow to show you what I mean.

    Hope it helps, it sure did for me when shown this technique.

    Oh and as a footnote just be glad you arent french polishing I have a friend who french polishs and a piano takes about 20 to 30 coats depending on the depth of finish, and he thins at different levels as he goes, got way more patience than me, I'm still learning that top quality finishing takes time.

    Last edited by Ralph Mckenzie; 11-13-2007 at 10:00 AM.
    Err ... Me, make a mistake .. Never

  6. #6
    Never had such problems with Fresh cans of Minwax Poly. I prefer the Wipe-on product but also use the canned"Full Strength" but either way I either use a cotton rag to apply or a China Bristle brush. Synthetic brush or foam brush will lay on too heavy and will need to back stroke, which may be why you are having such a problem. also are you using a sanding sealer as a base coat? I use a sanding sealer which (basicly) is a thinned product which soaks into the pores and allows to fill and begin adhesion. After the sanding sealer is hard (remember I said hard not dry) manufactures say "Dry in so many minutes" That is tack free dry and dust proof but to get a good adhesion and to serve the purpose the surface must be lightly sanded and when the finish is hard it will make a fine white powder using a 220 or 280 paper. Wipe clean and then apply a light coat of your poly. I use a small square of Tee shirt material (cleans out the drawers of old stained & torn shirts) 3" X 6" folded several time to make a pad, I use a spring type paper clip to hold the folded ends together and provide a handle. Pour some Poly into a small container and dip the rag inand allow to soak up. Then wipe the area. Single stroke (perhaps a back wipe but try to make it in single stroked the full length. Back stroking will create bubbles and striation marks. Too much fooling around with the finish will also leave marks. Wait again for it to dry HARD a few hours is not enough, it needs at least over night in a warm dry environment. Again it must be hard so that 300-400 paper will leave a fine white residue. Again another coat in a like mannor (be sure and wipe clean of the dust.) Make single stokes whenever possible, you should find that this coat will slide on smoother and with less effort and the surface will appear wet, longer. Again allow to HARDEN, then scuff with Scotchbrite pad to remove dust mites and other particle you stirred up. Wipe clean and then a final wipe with fresh Poly or Wipe-on Poly. Taking care to keep the strokes simple.

    Most fellows make simple errors when applying finishes.

    1) First they lay it on too thick, or with wrong application device. Foam pads are for stain and are basicly C (the word we aren't suppose to say) P, and should not be used, then there is the Poly brushes which are for Latex paint and will leave streaks. A good Bristle Brush (even cheap China bristle chip brushes are better than Poly brushes for clear finish applications) or a soft cotton rag makes the best application.

    2) Second, they don't wait long enough between coats. Dry is not good enough, the finish must be HARD, this takes time and ambiant conditions. Warm and dry with enough time to make the finish hard enough so that when you sand or scuff the surface, it leaves a white powder residue.

    3) Third they fool with it too much, simple application with as few as possible strokes will prevent globs in the corners, and bubbles, and streaks. As soon as you lay down the finsh it begins to harden, It is spread thin and the reaction to air begins. It goes through several stages before it is Hard. First it levels out seeking its own level then it glazes over (It appears to be textured and we sometimes want to smooth it back out, dont' allow it to settle itself as a back stroke will only ball up the already hardening portion and create furrows of finish)

    Good finish is easy if you follow procedure, have good prep, right tools and Don't mess with it. You will be adding several coats so if there is a spot that doesn't look right, leave it (unless it is a drool or run) and correct it on the next coat.

    As for opening the can, Perhaps you do need to work on your technique, Get a simple opener /bottle cap popper from the paint dept. at BORG, simple lifts, a little all the way around the lid. Several times. Then, when open, Use a scratch awl and make several holes in the lop of the can. This will allow any finish you wiped or poured in the rim to drain back to the can. This will leave an empty clean rim so you can re insert the lid. Don't use the brush to wipe excess off the rim as it only paints on a sealer coat that will "Glue" the lid making it hard to re-open. Use a clean rag and wipe the lid before re-capping. Watch the BORG associates and see how simple.

    Minwax is not my favorite but like you say, It is everywhere and seems to be the only girl in town, so ....

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