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Expert's Corner — sharp

Finishing Tips by Bob Flexner: Sanding

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Finishing Tips by Bob Flexner: Sanding

When sanding wood in preparation for a stain or finish, you need to remove all the problems in the  wood – mill marks, tear outs, gouges, etc. – with the coarsest grit sandpaper you’re using before  moving on to finer grits (to remove the coarse-grit scratches). This means that the coarse-grit  sandpaper you begin with should be able to remove the problems quickly and efficiently to reduce  the amount of work required. On the other hand, with factory pre-sanded veneered plywood or mdf, beginning with 150-grit sandpaper is usually adequate.As an example, 100- or 120-grit sandpaper is usually coarse enough...

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Finishing is not Always Easy

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Finishing is not Always Easy

First off, we all talk about doing it the same way every time. Creating finishes is like watching snowflakes fall. No two are identical. Even if two pieces are identical and being finished simultaneously in the spray zone, they are never identical because they are happening at two different spaces in time, with a twist of variables. You can rarely replicate anything exactly. Finishing is too subjective, and the better you get at it, the more your eye becomes brutally honest with you.  The spray rig with the operator who has the best eye wins in most cases. So, trick...

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TIP: Testing Your Finish for Hardness

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TIP: Testing Your Finish for Hardness

You can use architect’s pencils to test for finish hardness (scratch resistance). The lead in these pencils is rated from about 6 or 7B, the softest, to 6 or 7H, the hardest. HB is in the middle. You don’t need to buy all these pencils, just the middle five or six, because most finishes will test to one of these. To prepare the pencils sharpen them with a pocketknife, not a pencil sharpener. Then ground the tip of the lead perpendicular to the length of the pencil on fine sandpaper, or regular paper if the lead is close to flat....

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TIP: Soften Sharp Edges

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It’s very important that you soften all machined or hand-planed wood edges before applying any film-building finish. The finish will peel away from sharp edges (as is shown in the example) if they aren’t rounded over a little. It’s also a good idea to soften edges when using non-film-building oil finishes. Sharp edges dent easier than softened edges. You can easily remove the sharpness from edges with several light passes using medium-grit sandpaper.

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