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Expert's Corner — sandpaper

TIP: Water-Based Finish Should Powder

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TIP: Water-Based Finish Should Powder

As with all finishes, you should always sand the first coat of water-based finish smooth because it always dries rough to the touch. It’s also the best policy to sand additional coats smooth after they dry to remove dust nibs and other flaws, until the last coat, which you can leave as is.Water-based finishes dry rapidly, almost as fast as the water evaporates from the finish. So the drying occurs quicker on hot or dry days and slower on cold or humid days. How do you know when the finish is dry? It powders on the sandpaper and on the...

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The Exotic Vocabulary of French Polishing

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One of the difficulties with learning to do French polishing is overcoming the exotic vocabulary that continues to be used by some: “charge the rubber,” “fad in,” “spirit off,” etc. This vocabulary was created by English craftsmen 200 years ago, brought to the United States, and used in most instructions since. I’ve always thought it pretentious to use this vocabulary when there are perfectly good words everyone understands that can be substituted. Here’s the translation. “Rubber” was the name given to what we commonly call a pad, made by tightly wrapping a smooth, finely woven outer cloth such as a...

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TIP: How to Avoid a Lot of Sanding with Oil Finishes

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It’s not necessary to sand above 180 or 220 grit when applying an oil or oil/varnish blend finish. You can achieve the same smooth feeling results by sanding each coat after the first while that coat is still wet on the wood. You are wiping off all the excess anyway, so sanding dust isn’t a problem. Here are the steps: Sand the wood to 180 or 220 grit, sanding in the direction of the grain. Apply a wet coat of boiled linseed oil, 100% tung oil, your own mixture or oil and varnish or one of a number of commercial...

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TIP: Stripping Veneer

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Stripping veneer is no different than stripping solid wood, with a few exceptions. First, avoid using lye or a stripper that contains water. Because of the thinness of the veneer, these might work through and loosen the glue bond. Solvent-based strippers shouldn’t cause any problem that didn’t already exist. Second, if you sand after stripping, which is usually a good idea to check that you have removed all the finish, do so lightly and with fine sandpaper. Otherwise, you might sand through, and a sand-through is almost impossible to fix. I recommend doing this sanding by hand with just your...

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TIP: How to choose a sandpaper grit

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Sandpaper grits vary from very coarse to very fine. How do you choose which grit to use for any given situation? The answer is actually quite simple. In all cases you are using the sandpaper to remove a problem. So choose a grit that removes that problem efficiently without creating larger than necessary scratches that then have to be sanded out. For example, you would choose a coarser-grit sandpaper (#80 or #100) to remove severe washboarding caused by a jointer or planer but a finer grit (#120 or #150) on pre-sanded, veneered plywood or MDF. And you would begin sanding...

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