This polyurethane has cost me my sanity via /r/DIY

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This polyurethane has cost me my sanity

I've been working on this butcher block counter table to sit behind a couch. For reasons I now regret, I eschewed the normal butcher block treatment of mineral oil. Primarily I doubted my ability to keep up with the routine. So I settled on an oil based stain and Satin polyurethane. (I've learned after some research that you should do gloss coats and then satin on top of that for some reason but too late now). But àfter repeated attempts, I simply can't get the finish on this to look even respectable.

I'm using a foam brush, sanding between coats with 320 grit, etc. Last coat I went down to 220 and gave it an "aggressive" sanding I feared would cut through the layers to try to get rid of brush strokes, puddles, etc after they started forming. It seemed to work until I applied a new layer and just had more of the same stuff in different places. I've applied it straight and thinned it with mineral spirits. Always the same result.

One issue I seemed to have is "overbrushing" to try to get a smooth layer. Initially I was doing a good number of smooth passes back and forth to try to get an even spread, but this always left a ton of brush strokes. It seems like if the poly has sat for 15-20 seconds, I just have to leave it. Any more strokes and it's going to have set up enough that I can watch the brush strokes form in it when I go over it. That seems awfully fast and I'm not using a fast drying product, but that's what I get. So with this last coat I just went for speed. The results left a lot to be desired but aren't really any worse than what I got trying for extreme care and possibly overbrushing. There's still brush strokes, and there's still areas where you can see a stroke ended and there's clearly more poly there. It seems to dump a bunch of poly at the start of a stroke, and if I backstroke, at the end of that. And then I can't smooth it out or I get brush stroke lines. Agh!

What in the Sam heck am I doing wrong? I've now added and sanded and added like 7-8 layers and it never comes out right. Every time it looks smooth as glass at the start And I think I've finally gotten it, and then looks like turd as it dries.

Submitted May 26, 2021 at 10:33AM by GiraffeandZebra
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