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I finished a set of pine 2x12's that will be shelves for a bookshelf using the following process.

  1. Sanded the boards with 80, 120, and 220 grit
  2. Stained the boards with Minwax oil-based Early American using a rub-and-wipe technique. After this, the boards sat for a few days while I worked on other things.
  3. Applied 2 coats of Minwax Clear Gloss oil-based Polyurethane using a wipe-on method. I waited about 2 hours in between coats.

I'm shooting for a mostly natural, satin finish so my plan was to put two light coats of clear gloss on. Let it dry, then use paste wax and steel wool to de-shine the finish if I didn't like how it turned out.

Currently, it's been 72 hours since I applied the final coat of polyurethane. When I touch the wood, I'm seeing oily marks left behind on the surface. At first, I thought this was oil from my hands but I see the same thing when I touch the wood with latex gloves.

Questions:

  1. What can I do to remove this oily film? At this point I feel that the polyurethane has cured enough that a wipe down with mineral spirits wouldn't hurt anything. Are there any other options I could try?
  2. What is causing this oily film to be left behind? I read this article that suggested it could be problems with the environment or can of poly. I've used this combination of stain and finish in the past very successfully a handful of times in the past so I.

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