I have just finished a piece of wood that I intend to use as a writing/work desk with a polyurethane stain. I've seen some talk of it possibly being a good idea to apply a coat of rub-on paste wax on top of the poly finish. Has anyone else done this? Does it work? In what circumstances is it a good idea? What is the result?

  • 1
    Your terminology may be off a bit, there are water based stains and oil based stains, no poly based stains that I know of unless you are using a "Polyshade (r)" product that has stain mixed in with the finish. I ask this only to confirm what you actually have in place
    – Jack
    Aug 4, 2017 at 21:31
  • The product I'm using describes itself as a "water-based one-step stain & polyurethane". On the front it reads "Stain + Poly". It's made by Varathane.
    – fraxture
    Aug 4, 2017 at 21:58

1 Answer 1


You can wax it if you like, but it is not needed. The only time I would add wax if in the case there is slight imperfections like dust in the finish, and you would like a smoother finish. Wet sand the top with 400G wet sandpaper and work it up to 600 then 800. Then apply the paste wax. The trick will be is, if you have enough finish to do this much wet sanding. I do this with lacquer finishes but there are 3 or more coats in place to work with. This leaves a glass smooth surface when done, but it leaves a matte/satin sheen.

There are tutorials on "rubbing out" finishes online. This is where I picked up on this.


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