Thanks Greg for the kind (if not ironic) comments, I guess if I had a real life I'd write shorter posts...LOL! (You do realize I write to entertain myself, more then anything else, after all I'm just another Bozo on this Log Home bus!)
Dook, I hear ya on painting cars, I've done some painting and body work over the years on a Dodge Caravan, a Ford Escort, an Austin Healey 3000, a MG Midget, a Triumph TR250 and a BMW Z3, I was selling and I'll admit, since I was selling them I may not have put as much tender loving care into the paint jobs as I should have. Back in the 90s I did some work on my 1977 MGB, a complete rebuild from the ground up. When the last MGB rolled off the production line in 1980 I rolled my '77 into the garage and didn't touch it again until '95. In the 2 year re-build I repaired some small dings and dents and with the painting I remember going all the way to 600 grit wet sanding between paint coats and using 3M's "Finesse-it II" 1500 grit cutting paste to get the final mirror like finish. The "B" still sits under cover in the Garage with only 18,500 original miles, QQQ plates, and is in showroom/car show condition (we've won a few minor awards over the years), it does occasionally get out on the road just to blow the cob-webs out, but the "Classic Car" QQQ plates restrict daily driving activities. It's the only vehicle I've ever bought "new from the dealer" that went up in value, paying less then $6000.00 new (fully loaded, or as loaded as an MGB could be at the time) in '77, and as of the last appraisal in 2001 was valued over $10,000.00. My kids all argue who will get it when I go to meet my maker, and my daughter wants it left for my 3 Grandkids, but I fully intend to be buried in that car as my last laugh at them all.(See Tux Studs attached )
But I digress from the topic at hand, IMHO auto painting, or painting on any metals for that matter, especially with Acrylic paint (such as that used on the MGB) or lacquers is a whole other beasty compared to staining or finishing a wood working project, and the way I see it building a Log Home is after all, just a GIANT wood working project. I'm not so sure my standards are any higher then the next guy, and without my trifocals I'm as blind as a mole in coal (it really sucks getting old), but I will admit I am anal about everything and a bit compulsive when it comes to the care I've put into building this Log Home (THAT'S WHY IT HAS TAKEN 13 FRICKEN YEARS TO GET TO THIS POINT! PLEASE JUST SHOOT ME NOW!!!!)
I can't speak for all water borne polys but the few I've used didn't give me much trouble sanding between coats, I've never really had the balling up experience you speak of, unless you sand too aggressively and generate some heat between the paper and the finish, which will gum up the sand paper even on oil based polys. I've had that problem when trying to remove 3 coats of finish to get back to bare wood on occasion. Maybe it's my always using 220 grit or higher and lightly sanding between coats that has prevented the problem. As I mentioned I just run the orbital sander lightly on the finish after it's dry (I find the Sansin's minimum dry time before sanding is about 6 hours depending on relative humidity and room temperature. 60 to 70 degrees and fairly dry air is optimum), sand just enough to "Chalk" it up and remove/smooth out an occasional flaw/drip/sag in the previous coat, then I remove the dust and mineral spirit wash, and when dry the finish is dulled down enough to give the next coat something to bite to.
I used a 2 part water based poly floor finish (sealer and finish) on the Southern Pine stair treads in the Log home, as I felt it would be more scratch resistant then the Sansin Clear I used on the walls and ceiling (it isn't, but then again it's hard to prevent wood floor and stair scratches from happening when three 90 Lb. Labs are running around the house, chasing the grandkids), and I've used a water based poly to stain and finish all the Oak wood work, mouldings and Interior doors in our NJ stick built home. In both situations I never had any problems sanding between coats. Over the years I've always used oil based poly clear finishes on the Oak furniture I've built (tables, cabinets, book cases etc.) as I like the Natural Golden warmth it gives to Red Oak, but I have found that some oil based polys can sometimes be frustrating with settling out evenly, and have even experienced orange peal and pin bubbles from time to time over different base stains.
I now use "Norton 3X" 5" sanding disc exclusively (I've tried and used many brands, Porter Cable, Diablo, Gator, Mirka, etc., but find Norton 3X to be the best and longest lasting) and I use a gum rubber matt roto-spin "Sander Sitter" cleaner when resting the running sander (keeps the discs clean and lasting longer-available at Rockler and other wood working supply companies). I use the same method whether I use oil based Poly and Spars or water based Polys. I just re-finished our outdoor Cedar Skirt Spa/Hot Tub and the matching cabinets and deck furniture over the past 2 summers. Completely chemically stripping off the old finish, sanding the wood to 220 grit and applying 3 coats of oil based clear Semi-Gloss Spar finish with great results. Honestly, while I do change out the discs frequently (once I find the paper is getting dull to the touch) I don't find that the sanding discs condition (balling up, clogging, or excessive wear) shows any difference between the different base types of polys, and the 220 grit discs seem to last as long as they do when sanding bare wood (well depending on the wood of course Pines and Cedar will not dull down the paper as fast as Oak and Maple will).
But with all that said I've never had any problems of any kind using the Sansin products, the stuff IMHO really is that good. As far as penetration into the wood, since I'm using a Sansin clear finish and not a colored stain on the interior I find it soaks into the wood about as much as the oil based clear finishes soak into the wood (i.e. the Sansin is just as much a b1tc# to sand down to the raw wood as an oil based poly is).
Regarding the 2x8 T&G roof, as well as the main floor ceilings (which are the bottom of the T&G loft decking) they were all installed prior to being finished, using the same quick "dried-in" method you speak of. You can see the construction of the roof system (as well as the logs and decking) at our web site in the "Exterior" section ( www.ottersrun.com , the site hasn't been updated in a while, since I've started the finish work on the Log home, but the dried in stages are pretty much all there). The 2x8 T&G roof was laid over the Log Purlin/Truss frame work and 2x12 Rafters were Laid over the T&G ceiling and then sprayed with 7 inches of closed cell foam insulation for an R42+ value, then Sheathed in OSB board, covered with Ice and Water Dam membrane top to bottom, and finished with a Teflon coated Standing Seam Steel roof (vented from the eves to the ridge core vent).
1) the "dried-in" wasn't quick, I had contractor crew problems and went a month without a waterproof roof and 6 Giant holes where the Skylights were to be installed (long story for another time and place, as if this post isn't long enough already, but I'm not bitter as the contractor eventually "bit a bullet" by his own hand, and now sits comfortably beside Satan basking in the warm glow of H3LL! Are you having fun yet Joe?). Tarps were useless and the rain water just poured into the shell to the point of passing all the way down to the basement/foundation and we had an indoor pool down there for a while.
2) it wasn't very dry! The year we built it rained non-stop from May to August, worst rain season in our area in years (that is until Irene hit and wiped out the state). In the Vermont Snow Belt, they say we have only 3 seasons; Winter Season, Mud Season, and Construction Season (Ok there's a 4th season if you consider "Black Fly" Season, dang those little buggers hurt, but that's from Mother's Day to Father's Day so it kind of falls during Mud season, all the non-flatlanders will know what I mean). The rains were so bad during that year's "Construction" season that I had to rebuild my 1034 foot mountain road twice to repair the damage from mountain run-off and construction truck traffic (we almost lost the Tractor-trailer hauling the Superior walls foundation up the mud sliding road) . Even though our home is named after our dear departed Chocolate Lab, my excavators joked that I picked the right name "Otter's Run" because you needed to be a Otter to work in that much rain water. As such the interior Ceilings, decking and Logs were hammered by the weather and took a ton of water damage that has taken years of sanding to repair.
So, YES it was a major pain in the butt, and the BENT BACK NECK to sand all that ceiling wood on ladders and scaffolding, using an 18 Lb. 7" Makita Vari-Speed Sander, followed by a 5" Porter Cable Random Orbital Sander (we've burnt out 5 of these so far), and a Fein Multi-Tool detail sander, to go from 50 Grit to 220 grit, to get to the point of applying the 3 coats of finish. See I told you I was anal! LOL. However, I will say the Sansin Purity finish is thick enough (like a heavy cream or latex paint) that it flows on and adheres rather quick and dries fairly fast during application (as with any poly finish, be careful back brushing over semi dried applied finish to prevent streaking and gumming) that we never experienced any sort of "shower" exposure. Yeah, we'd get drips coming off the foam brushes if you didn't wipe the excess off well enough on the stain buckets, or if you got sloppy and careless you'd get some material on you, and of course there was the occasional scream, "HEADS UP-WATCH OUT BELOW", as a half filled stain bucket or saturated brush took a nose dive of the ladder, which was usually followed by a whole lot of curse words from above and below! But in reality using the Sansin product was no different or more drippy then painting a ceiling with latex paint and a hand brush, as one would do along the edges and corners of a sheet rocked ceiling when using paint rollers, just a whole lot more surface to hand paint (oh, and as an FYI, foam rollers don't work well applying the Sansin product, I have a whole case of unused rollers that attests to that), And as I said clean up was with soap and water, which was a whole lot more pleasant then cleaning up oil based polys, spars and varnishes.
As far as finishing on saw horses, yeah that's a whole lot more comfortable and maybe a bit cleaner. We do that with all the mouldings, railings, and trim work (both sides to seal the wood) before installing it. We also sanded all the interior T&G wood paneling on saw horses before installing it, but finished it vertically after it was installed. Being Scottish (i.e. CHEAP) I'd rather put in the sweat labor to stain/finish the ceiling then pay for all that wood to cover over an existing ceiling. I'd rather use the money to furnish a room, or invest in more A/V equipment, or home automation stuff for the house. Let's see, a few $1000.00 for T&G paneling to cover the ceiling, or a few months work and another 3D Hi-Def Smart TV for a bedroom...sorry dude, I gotta go with the TV! - I do like my toys, as they say "Little boys never grow up, their toys just get more expensive!", and after all isn't it true that the one who dies with the most toys wins? ...LOL ...Then again, as my brother is so fond of saying; "The more stuff you own, the more it owns you!").
Anyway you decide to go, it's still going to be labor intensive working on those ceilings (unless you hire it out, and forgo that new TV). The way I see it, I always looked at the work as being therapy and quality time spent alone wandering around the cob-web covered caverns of my mind (creeeaaak.... sorry this section's closed, and was burnt out at one too many Pink Floyd concerts....), but then again, I know I'm just a pair of big floppy red shoes and a squeaky red nose away from being "Full Tilt Bozo"! Does the Bus stop here?
Good luck and let us know how your project turns out!