My first post on WoodWorking Stack Exchange so please forgive me in advance if my question has been answered before.

I am new to woodworking and have read a lot of information regarding working with polyurethane to finish a project. I have recently built a table top, which I intend to finish with poly, but cannot find anything concrete around the number of poly coats required before I can safely polish my table top.

I have purchased a gloss polyurethane and my aim is to finish my table top to closely resemble a glass look finish. The manufacturers guidelines recommend applying 3 to 4 coats of poly, which appears to be the norm, but I am worried 4 coats of poly will not be enough for me to then begin buffing/polishing to get that glass look finish.

Will 4 coats of ploy be enough or would I burn though these coats whilst polishing? Would anyone recommend applying more coats to be safe?

Thank you in advance.

1 Answer 1


The finer your abrasives are the less material you will be removing. By the time you get to the "polishing" grits you should be removing very little material.

If your surfaces were sufficiently flat and smooth to begin with you should be able to safely polish it after 4 coats. In fact, polishing should ideally not even cut through one coat, otherwise you risk creating "witness lines" at the border between where the top coat is present and where it is not.

This also will be effected by how thick your coats are. If you're using thinned "wiping" poly you may want to do a few more coats.

Also, ideally, if you know you're going to be doing heavy polishing you should use a finish that "burns in" to previous layers, like lacquer or shellac.

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