I'm new to this forum and new to woodworking as well...I'm renovating my daughter's bathroom and she wanted the cabinets stained darker. I thought that would be pretty simple (😳😩) and inexpensive so I agreed. So I scuffed up the cabinets and applied the poly in as thin a coat as I could. 13 hours later it's still tacky, and I'm afraid to sand or apply another coat, even though the can says you can apply more after 4-6 hours. Is it still in that "2 phase" drying process I've read about? It looks great for the most part but has some strange little spots where the poly appears to have spread out and thinned. Any suggestions?

  • How old was the poly? Exactly what was it? What was the finish before you started? "Tacky after 13 hours" doesn't sound good to me. Aug 29, 2017 at 13:40
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    Normally I'd say you need to try waiting longer for the varnish to set before continuing but the "strange little spots" sound like you've gotten fisheyes. If you Google that you'll see that unfortunately they mean you probably have to strip off the Minwax and begin again (this time prepping the cabinets more thoroughly, or even getting back to bare wood).
    – Graphus
    Aug 29, 2017 at 13:46
  • It sounds like you didn't quite scuff it up enough. Any residue left on the surface from either the previous finish or even just dirt and grim from age will prevent the finish from being applied correctly. Or maybe the bathroom has particularly poor air flow and so that is increasing the dry time.
    – jbord39
    Aug 30, 2017 at 0:12
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    @jbord39 Purely sanding isn't the best way to prep for new varnish, some wiping with liquid is always advisable (usually a solvent). But because of the fish-eye defects it's possible that no damp wiping would have helped and a barrier coat of shellac is called for.
    – Graphus
    Aug 30, 2017 at 7:16
  • DeeDee, forgot to address the long cure time. Is it particularly humid where you are? Higher moisture levels can greatly slow the curing of an oil-based finish — so in case you didn't know, no showers in the bathroom while the finish is drying! It's possible also the finish needed to be stirred much more thoroughly for all the ingredients to be consistently distributed through the can, however it's also possible the finish has gone off and won't ever dry right. If so returning it to the supplier as faulty is the right call there, assuming that's possible.
    – Graphus
    Aug 30, 2017 at 7:20

1 Answer 1


middle door is without stirring Guys thanks for your answers! You're all going to get a kick out of this but I have to admit a big rookie mistake I did not stir the stain before I put it on the cabinets! In this case shaken and not stirred didn't cut it! It's new Minwax poly stain espresso colored. Anyway I put one coat on the door fronts yesterday and added a second coat on top of the light and it turned out the same color. Also it dried quicker and it dried to a satin finish which is what it was supposed to do rather than shiny. They look great! Not perfect but great. 😊

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