By Brad Holden
If you've only dipped your toe into the world of waterborne
finishes, Siawool from Lee Valley just might make
you take the plunge.
I stayed away from using water-borne finishes for a
long time. That warm, subtle sheen you get from rubbing
out a finish with steel wool and paste wax just wasn’t
attainable, because you can’t use steel wool with waterborne
finishes. Why? Let’s just say steel and water don’t
play well together. You could end up with little rust spots
in your finish.
Siawool is made from nylon fibers impregnated with
abrasive particles. It looks and performs just like its steel
counterpart, but it doesn’t have any adverse reaction to
water. You can use it wet or dry.
Other synthetic substitutes for steel wool are available,
most commonly in a “scouring pad” format that’s useless
for rubbing moldings or sculpted surfaces because the
pads will round all the edges that should stay crisp.
Siawool, on the other hand, acts just like steel wool,
forming exactly to the surface being worked. Another
thing I like is that it comes in a big wad, so you can tear off
and form any size batten you need. It’s available in coarse,
medium and fine grades, the equivalents of 180, 320 and
800 grit sandpaper.
Siawool does come at a price—it costs about three
times more than an equal amount of high-quality oil-free
steel wool. But if you want to rub out a water-borne finish,
it’s the only game in town.
Lee Valley, leevalley.com, 800-871-8158, Fine Siawool, 75g,
#53Z08.21, Medium Siawool, 75g, #58Z08.21, Coarse Siawool,