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Expert's Corner — dust

TIP: Sand Oil Finish Wet

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TIP: Sand Oil Finish Wet

For the ultimate in smooth feel with an oil or oil/varnish-blend finish, sand the finish between coats while it is still wet—that is, before wiping off the excess. You can use any grit sandpaper, but the finer grit you use, the smoother the result. I like to use 600-grit, but 400-grit also works well. Sand with the grain, of course. As long as you have sanded the wood to 180-grit or finer, you don’t have to sand much to remove the coarser scratches. The reason this trick works so well is that the oil acts as a lubricant for the...

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TIP: Shortcut for Color Confirmation

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TIP: Shortcut for Color Confirmation

Stains lighten as they dry, so you often see instructions to apply a coat of finish to see the true color you will get at the end. This isn’t necessary. You don’t have to let a stain dry and apply a coat or two of finish to see the color a stain will produce on the wood. There’s a much quicker method. All you need to do is look at the color while the stain is still damp on the wood—that is, right after you have wiped off the excess. This is the color you will get, and it holds...

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Preparation and Application – A Good Finish Requires Both

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Preparation is a huge part of finishing. Failing to prepare the wood will surely lead to a bad finish no matter how good your equipment or coating. So let’s talk first about sanding. You must start with a completely dry piece of wood. If you have stripped it, let it dry, preferably overnight. Then give the wood a light sanding. We suggest 180-grit sandpaper, or any grit up to a 220 will work just fine. Anything finer will affect the ability of the stain to penetrate into the wood, especially on closed-grain woods such as maple, cherry, etc. Even if...

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TIP: Strain Water-Based Finish

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TIP: Strain Water-Based Finish

It’s always a good idea to strain a finish before brushing or spraying it to remove dirt and other unwanted particles. It’s especially important to strain water-based finishes because small bits of finish often solidify in the can, and rust that forms around the lip of the can may fall into the finish. Commercial strainers are widely available wherever paints and finishes are sold. These strainers are much easier to use than any homemade cloth system you may think up. Straining always involves using a separate container, which can be the spray-gun cup itself if you’re spraying, or a jar...

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TIP: Vacuum For Dusting

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TIP: Vacuum For Dusting

The best way to remove sanding dust is with a vacuum because it doesn’t kick sawdust into the air as a dust brush does. You could also use compressed air if you have a good exhaust, but the exhaust is usually in a spray booth and that’s not where sanding wood usually takes place. It’s best to vacuum off the sanding dust after each sanding grit to remove all the coarser grit particles that may be left.

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