Flexner on Finishing: Fish Eye & Silicone
by Bob Flexner
From the December 2013 issue, #208
If your finishing career has been limited to finishing projects you have made, you may never have experienced fish eye. But if you have done much refinishing, especially of furniture, you have surely seen fish eye.
Fish eye is the finish crawling up to form moon-like craters or ridges within seconds of your having brushed or sprayed a coat of finish. You can actually see the finish move. The cause is almost always silicone contamination, so the first thing to understand is silicone and how it gets on furniture.
Silicone is a synthetic material made from silicon (sand), oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and additional elements to make a liquid, gel, resin or hard plastic. You are surely familiar with silicone caulk, and you may have heard of silicone breast implants.
It’s the liquid silicone that we’re concerned with here because many furniture polishes, especially those packaged in aerosols, contain silicone. It’s a very slick oil, noticeably slicker than mineral oil if you compare by putting a drop between your thumb and finger and rub them together. It’s also totally inert, so it doesn’t damage anything.
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