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Expert's Corner — sand

TIP: Two coats, minimum

coats sand sheen the finishing store thinned varnish wood woodfinishing woodwork woodworking

TIP: Two coats, minimum

It almost always takes at least two coats of any finish to develop the sheen a finish is designed to produce: gloss, satin, flat, or whatever. The first coat seals the wood. The second coat develops the sheen. The exception to the two-coat rule would be if you apply the first coat really thick. This can usually be done only on horizontal surfaces. The reason two coats are usually necessary is that a lot of the first coat soaks into the wood, so there isn’t enough build to produce the sheen. If you’re applying highly thinned coats, as shown with...

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TIP: How Much To Sand?

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TIP: How Much To Sand?

One of the most difficult aspects of wood preparation is knowing how much to sand to remove all the machine marks and other flaws. Here’s a trick that may make it easier. Draw some pencil marks on the wood. Then sand the wood until you have removed them entirely. Sanding is very personal. We all sand differently. We use different grits, more or less pressure, more or fewer passes and with more or less wear on the sandpaper. So you may determine that, for you, sanding off the pencil marks once is enough. Or you may determine that drawing a...

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TIP: Filling Pores with Sanding Sealer

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It’s generally better to use a dedicated paste wood filler (pore filler) to fill pores than the finish itself, or sanding sealer, because finishes continue shrinking. This will cause the pores to noticeably open up a little after a few weeks or months. But you can use the finish for filling, especially if it’s water-based because water-based finishes sand fairly easily and don’t shrink as much as varnish and lacquer. Apply several coats, sand them back using a flat block to back your sandpaper, and continue doing this until the pores are filled. Varnish and lacquer are more difficult to...

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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: Finisher’s Glossary: Silicon or Silicone?

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Silicon and silicone are not the same thing, and the terms are used inaccurately so often that I thought it might be worthwhile to explain the difference. Simply put, silicon (rhymes with the man’s name, Don) is sand, and silicone (rhymes with “shown”) is an oil or gel that is used in furniture polishes, caulk and breast implants. Silicone is made from silicon but is clearly very different. It’s Silicon Valley, not silicone valley as it’s often called. The most egregious misuse of these two words I think I ever heard was a finish teacher explaining to the class that...

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