I've been having the hardest time with one little section of a table I am finishing. I am using Varathane oil based clear polyurethane.

I've been spraying it on with a 20% turpentine / 80% varathane mix with a HVLP and it's been going great.

Except for this one side! I've even let it dry completely, sand it down and brushed it on with 100% varathane, and still it krinkles.

Any thoughts on how I can tackle this one side?enter image description hereenter image description here

  • not the best option because I do not know much on this stuff. But what if you did cont. to put on the stuff but sand it and smooth it out that way. I have to do that with polyurethane to get it smooth. Just a thought.
    – Ljk2000
    Nov 28, 2016 at 1:07
  • Looks like the finish was applied too thick in a single coat to me.
    – aaron
    Nov 28, 2016 at 13:42

1 Answer 1


This looks like a classic case of surface contamination to me, where the varnish has crawled away from something it can't stick to and settled at the edges of the contamination.

Although it doesn't usually happen on so large an area as this edge (often it's just tiny spots, the dreaded "fisheye defect") it looks a lot like the kind of defect you get if you accidentally get a product containing silicone on the wood. This is one of the primary reasons it comes so highly recommended not to use any silicone waxes, caulk or polishes* anywhere in the workshop.

Can't guarantee it'll work but one standard way to address this problem is to coat the problem areas with shellac first to seal off the contamination from the varnish. Once the shellac has dried (about an hour at room temperature will usually be enough, wait longer if it's colder) the varnish should go on normally.

*Many modern furniture polishes contain some silicone, one of numerous reasons they're a terrible way to care for wooden furniture.

  • Yeah, this is a completely new piece of wood, and I've handled it the same way as all the other sides. No wax or silicone product on it. I tried to remove a piece once it was dry, and it certainly is bonded with the wood.
    – JonYork
    Nov 28, 2016 at 13:14

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