Persuading Glaze to Stay in the Grooves

      Advice on a tricky glazing application: MDF doors with shallow grooves don't seem to want to hold glaze. July 24, 2006

I have a glazing job that we're pretty near completion on, and I'm looking for some ideas on doing what we did, just better and faster. The products were MDF doors, MLC's Magnaclaw primer, Magnamax white, No-Vinyl glaze, and topcoat of dull clear Magnamax. I like these products, though I'm not necessarily in love with the No-Vinyl glaze. I'm willing to try the thicker "gotta use vinyl" type if it solves the problem. The issue is getting the No-Vinyl glaze, which is a fairly thin product, into the grooves on a somewhat glaze-unfriendly door (there are some corners and 90's for glaze to get up into). The goal was to get the glaze sort of uniformly into the grooves as well as give the entire door the aged, mildly dusty/dirty look.

I was not able to get the glaze to easily stay in the grooves. When I added and removed the glaze on the entire door surface (via wiping with a cloth), I found it impossible to leave any amount of glaze in the grooves on this door style. It just made a mess if I tried to reapply it there and re-wipe it while it was still wet.

I wound up using an artist's brush to paint it into every groove, allowing it to dry for an hour or two, and then lightly wiping out any overage. Got the job done. Painfully. Being new at glazing, is this par for the course if the door's profiles aren't wild with steep, deep grooves? Are there easier ways to apply the glaze in these unfriendly grooves?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor S:
A spray glaze would have worked better with little detail (Amazing Glaze). I find the MLC Woodsong glaze too slippery, however with good technique, it can be successful. Try wrapping the rag tight around your finger and wiping in an angle.

From contributor B:
I'm not familiar with this "no vinyl" glaze, as I use the SW glaze. You can spray it on and let it dry. After drying, you can clean it off with a Scotch-Brite pad. The secret is to let it dry some and you can use a paper towel. If you wait too long, you have to use the Scotch-Brite pad. However, this is better than everything wiping out and having to reapply.

From contributor J:
I had a small job I had the same problem on. The grooves were not sharp enough to hold the glaze. I finally just drug a corner of a chisel (not pushing the blade into the work) along the corners and that gave me a nice glaze line and not much extra fuss. You just have to be careful not to slip and make a big cut across a door. If you do a job like this again, tell the customer that if they want the glaze to catch in the edges, they need to choose a profile with a sharp edge.

From contributor M:
How about airbrushing the glaze into the grooves, and then wiping off the excess glaze so the door is clean? You can then glaze out the door. It sure would be better than trying to hand brush the glaze into the small groove.

From contributor W:
What product is the no vinyl glaze?

From contributor R:
Try scuffing the groove with the edge of a Scotch-Brite pad. The abraded surface will give the glaze something to grab on to. Also, try letting the glaze sit longer before you wipe it off. Personally, I find this glaze base best for low intensity glazing effects like faint brush strokes. For the "pack in the crack" effect, the standard glaze base is my favorite.

Amazing Glaze has half the color intensity of the standard glaze, so while it is fast, depending on the background color, it might not give you the contrast you are looking for. Different products for different applications.

From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor:
I've had very good results with the fast dry spray glazes. Campbell has one called Amazing Glaze. I have some info on using fast dry glaze at this link:

Fast Dry Spray Glaze

The picture below is a close-up of an old walnut dresser I'm refinishing. You can see the dark glaze in the recesses and the lighter dust color encrusted in the finish. You can replicate the look by layering the glaze... dark glaze, sealer, very light application of gray glaze, sealer/topcoats.

Click here for full size image

From contributor I:
I like a powder-off type glaze for that type of application. I usually make my own out of Jaz tempera if the glaze can be black, white or brown or any combo of these 3 colors. I get the ready mixed tempera, not the powder. One coat of sealer spray on the tempera and brush into grain, distressing, etc., let dry and then use a Scotch-Brite to take the tempera off the high spots until you like the effect. It is important not to spray on too heavy of a coat of finish or too light a coat. Too heavy and the tempera will just bead up; too light and it will stain the wood too much. I discovered this technique on a Makor finish line when I needed to do some production glazing and now I like it for some hand work, also. You can also purchase a powder off type glaze from most large finish houses (they are pricey, though).

From the original questioner:
Thanks for the tips. We had thought of Amazing Glaze, but it requires the use of post-cat items and right now we use an airless pump, which is a nightmare to get the right amount of paint catalyzed for use with a pump. Hadn't thought of airbrushing the glaze in... We have a small HVLP that can dial in like an airbrush. Good idea.

No-Vinyl glaze is a thin, greasy glaze that is basically thick heavy glaze reduced with mineral spirits. It does not require a sandwich coat of vinyl sealer before laying the clear topcoat. So far I like the looks of the product but not the way it handles.

From contributor M:
You might also consider dry brushing in the grooves. This technique could be done with either dry powders or almost any one of the pigmented paste colorants (universal, oil, and japan). You could use them straight out of the can, or thin them out with the proper solvent (mineral spirits), use a stencil brush with hard bristles, and rub the color right into the grooves, then wipe off the excess outside the grove (you may need the solvent again to take it off if it dries). Then apply the other glaze to get the affect you're looking for. They should all be compatible with each other.

From contributor R:
You can use the Amazing Glaze with the MagnaMax system if you let the Max dry at least 12 hours. This allows it to cure enough so that the glaze doesn't etch into the finish so deep that it can't be removed.

If you do try this product and mix the colors yourself, remember that this glaze base has a maximum tint load of 5oz of colorant/gallon, which is half the tint load of the standard glaze base. Don't be tempted to put too much colorant into the base or apply it too heavy or adhesion will suffer.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
You might want to try a "heavy bodied" glaze by Mohawk. Iíve always had great success with this product in terms of leaving the desired amount on the piece and in the crevices. Let it sit for a few minutes before wiping, and add just a little mineral spirits to your wiping rag. Maybe I am oversimplifying but it has always worked well for me.

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