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Expert's Corner — sheen

Finishing the Finish

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Finishing the Finish

“A finish should invite you, it should ask to be rubbed and touched and it should feel like warm butter.” Of any single thing that has been the definitive selling point for my furniture through the years, it has been the finish. Proper equipment, skill and environment can produce this, but often, for the average guy, it just doesn’t happen to his satisfaction. The simple solution is to rub the finish, but here again, there are many different means of doing that. Some simply are a ‘Witch’s Brew’ that are not successful. Some are very labor intensive and some are...

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TIP: Two coats, minimum

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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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Remove Watermarks With Steel Wool

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Watermarks can happen in all finishes after they have aged and become somewhat porous. The marks appear light gray to white and are almost always very superficial – that is, right at the surface of the finish. So one way to remove them that almost always works well is to abrade off the very top surface of the finish with fine steel wool or abrasive pad. Usually, the discoloration will be removed with very little effort, as shown in the two accompanying pictures. The downside of removing watermarks in this manner is that you may change the sheen of the...

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TIP: How sheen works

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TIP: How sheen works

The sheen of a finish is measured as the reflectivity of the dried film – that is, the sharpness of an image reflected in the surface. Sheens vary from high gloss to very flat. The contrast between gloss and satin sheens is shown in the accompanying picture. Finishes are supplied in various sheens, determined by how much flatting agent, which is usually silica, is added. These are usually identified with names such as gloss, semi-gloss, satin, matte, eggshell and flat. The names reflect the manufacturer’s interpretation and are often chosen for marketing purposes, so the actual sheens you get can...

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Rubbing a Finish: The Key to Quality

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Of all the steps in finishing the one that people seem most hesitant about is “rubbing.” Yet rubbing a finish is as simple as sanding wood, and rubbing is the only step in finishing that can raise the quality of your work from average to special. No matter how careful you are, you can’t apply a perfect finish. A brush always leaves brush marks, and a spray gun usually leaves some orange peel. Worse, there’s always some dust in the air that can settle and stick to the finish. Rubbing removes these flaws, and, in addition, improves the tactile qualities...

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