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Finishing Birch Plywood advice

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Ravi W20/03/2018 15:45:30
2 forum posts


This is my first DIY with wood polishing and I would like to finish Birch ply. The idea is to not stain but finish it with clear PU coating Matt or Gloss. I don't want any yellowing or amber tint so I need a clear coat. Here are my questions.

1. I believe I have to first coat with a wood conditioner? I am based in India and I can't find a wood conditioner here. Is a sanding sealer the same thing or are there any alternate names for a wood conditioner that I should search for? I prefer water based as I will do this at home and want an odourless and easy to cleanup job.

2. Will the conditioner darken the grain just a little? If not, which stain can I use that will enhance the grain just a tad bit?

3. After conditioning I understand the last step is to coat with PU either Matt/Gloss. Is this correct?

4. If I do the job with a brush will it be close to doing it with a spray or do brush marks remain?

Thanks for reading.

Mike Jordan20/03/2018 18:19:17
146 forum posts
17 photos

I have found that the best way to get a good internal quality finish is - Apply a coat of cellulose sanding sealer ( this is very strong smelling but dries in a few minutes. ONLY TO BE USED OUTSIDE IN FRESH AIR)

Follow with two coats of interior clear varnish after sanding lightly. Exterior quality varnish tends to yellow more and continue over time because of the oil content.

Brian Barber21/03/2018 23:22:11
154 forum posts
238 photos

Hi Ravi,

I have developed my own method of finishing birch ply with polyurethane which works really well. First I dilute the polyurethane to at least 50/50 with white spirit and then brush on. When dry give a light sanding and do it all again at least once or twice until the grain looks reasonably filled. Then sand again lightly and apply a final dilute coat with a tightly folded cloth, not a brush. Finally apply a wax finish and polish. This really works but takes a little time.


Ravi W22/03/2018 03:51:07
2 forum posts

Mike, thanks for the reply. Unfortunately I'll be doing this at home and need an odourless (or minimum odour solution).

Brian, thanks for your reply. By white spirit do you mean a paint thinner? I have found this product Woodtech Aquadur PU which is water based. They have 2 separate products base coat and a top coat. What is the difference? Are you saying I can just buy the top coat and then dilute with water as this is water based? What is the polish you refer to?


Brian Barber22/03/2018 10:37:13
154 forum posts
238 photos

Yes white spirit or turpentine substitute is a paint thinner. I personally do not like water based paints or water based polyurethane since they tend to raise the grain and also do not give as good a finish as spirit based paints. As regards diluting water based polyurethane with water I would not know. Another problem with water based paints is that they dry very quickly and would drag on a cloth and ruin the finish.


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