I have completed a breadbox for my wife and finished the interior with polyurethane, and it smells. I have tried to put baking soda in it, let it stand open for days, alas it still has a strong odor that permeates the bread within. Is there anything I can do to save my project? Help! – Jim Slagle
Tim Inman: Time is your friend. Open the box so it can get as much fresh air circulation as possible, and let nature take its course. If you can, I’d put it outside in the shade and let the wind blow through it. If outdoors isn’t an option, put a fan blowing on it. I would think that in a couple of weeks with lots of fresh air circulation, you’d be back in the happy place. Next time, you might consider leaving the interior unfinished. Many old cabinets I restore have bread drawers or boxes. They are almost never finished on the interior surfaces.
Chris Marshall: I agree with Tim – once the poly completely cures, the smell should diminish and then eventually disappear. But, maybe time isn’t your friend for this project or you’d rather not wait for the stink to go. There is another solution, which has been suggested before by finishing expert Michael Dresdner: shellac. Shellac seals in odors, and you can apply it right over the poly inside your breadbox. There will be no adhesion problems, and it dries super fast. I’d use Zinsser® SealCoat™ for this job, because it imparts no color to the finish you’ve already got in place. You can find it at many home centers.