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Wood Finishing Tips

Posted by Chip Auman on

Wood finishing doesn’t have to be intimidating – in fact, it can be quite fun, giving you a sense of accomplishment once your work is done. Here are five ways to get great results when finishing your furniture.

  1. Know how to do at least three different types of finishes. There are different types of finishes that all depend upon the type of project you are working on. A Shaker-style project goes well with an easy to apply oil finish. However, an oil finish wouldn’t look as good on a more sophisticated project – those are better suited with film-building finishes, such as polyurethane, shellac, varnish, or lacquer.
  2. Learn how to color wood and which stains/dyes work. Some woods, such as mahogany and walnut, are enhanced in beauty with the help of a stain or dye. Others, however, such as maple, birch, and cherry, don’t take color well at all. Softwoods don’t stain well at all, as they become blotchy when colored.
  3. Be educated in the finish before starting the project. The project style and finish guide will help you decide which wood to use. Ask yourself these questions – Will the wood be stained? Will it need an oil finish or a film finish? How much protection will the wood need from moisture and scratches?
  4. Sample the finish. Test out the finish on a piece that is made of the same material as your project. Prepare just as you would as if you were beginning the project. Sand it, apply color if the finish needs it, stain or dye a portion, let it dry and then apply the top coat.
  5. Use sandpaper between coats. If you want your project to be smooth, sand between coats to remove any small rough spots that show up. This is most likely grain standing up after the first coat is applied, dust that has fallen onto the wet finish, or air bubbles. Sand dry finishes with #240-grit stearated, self-lubricating aluminum oxide paper (grey colored). Another option is to wet sand the finish with #400-grit wet/dry sandpaper. Use water with a few drops of dish detergent to wet sand. Just be careful not to sand through the film.

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