I'm working on redoing a 3x3 butcher block and turning it into a craft table for my granddaughter and she wants a nice finish on it. What is patting on poly?

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    Where did you hear the term "patting on poly?" Some context might help. – Alaska Man Mar 17 '20 at 20:28
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    Please see the tour. WW.SE is not a threaded forum. Rather it is a Question and Answer site, so you should limit yourself to a single question at a time. – jdv Mar 17 '20 at 21:14
  • @jdv I don't really see a problem with this as a single question. "what is X" and "why should I use X" are two very closely related questions and they'd almost always both be addressed in any "complete" answer. – SaSSafraS1232 Mar 17 '20 at 22:29
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    The title has three questions in it and, while related, are such that it will very easy for partial answers. Asking for the OP and others to clarify a question so it is clear and obvious what all is being asked is pretty standard around here. – jdv Mar 18 '20 at 12:30
  • Hi Roger, welcome to SE. Really what you're asking about here is wiping varnish. Once you look for that all your questions (and more) will be answered since we have multiple references to wiping varnish in various previous Q&As. The most comprehensive one that should get you going in the right direction is here, woodworking.stackexchange.com/questions/5891/… – Graphus Mar 18 '20 at 13:44

The word you're looking for is "pad", not "pat". What this is referring to is an "applicator pad". This term is not normally used as a verb (i.e. you wouldn't say "padding on poly".) Rather it is a tool used to apply finish.

An applicator pad is a thick cloth or fiber bundle that would be soaked with finish and then wiped over the surface you're applying that finish to. They are normally considered disposable as they're more difficult to clean than a brush. You can also make your own by folding a paper towel over several times.

Applicator pads are normally used with thinner finishes than a brush would be, such as thinned "wiping poly" or shellac. Because they require lower viscosity finishes they apply thinner coats. This requires more applications for the same amount of build, but tends to be easier due to the low amount of fluid on the surface which prevents runs and brush marks.

Also, since they do not have handles of any sort you have to wear gloves when using them.

  • Good coverage of the [too broad] queries. One thing though, pad is indeed used as a verb. While you are partially right that you wouldn't commonly hear "padding on poly" you would on the other hand often read or hear the phrase "padding on shellac" in finishing circles. – Graphus Mar 18 '20 at 13:41
  • Oh, I just haven't run across that. I know that french polish with shellac relies on a very specific type of pad, but I'd never heard it used as a verb. As with anything to do with language I'm sure if varies based on your region and community. – SaSSafraS1232 Mar 18 '20 at 16:50
  • "I'm sure if varies based on your region and community" Oh yes. Although I would say this usage is pretty widespread it is inevitable that it will vary, not just because of how generally varied terminology can be in woodworking but in French polishing specifically specific stages or techniques are known to have more than one name in different traditions (e.g. bodying up, stiffing). – Graphus Mar 19 '20 at 8:29

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