Reply by Sark

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Posted on Last coat help.

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243 posts in 972 days

#1 posted 11-07-2018 03:26 PM

Rubbing down the finish is pretty much the cats meow, if you want that baby-skin smooth texture. It doesn’t really matter if your final coat is gloss or satin, the finish will still benefit from that final rub-down either with 0000 steel wool or finishing pads. When I had a spray booth, the finishes came out quite dust free and smooth with a professional look. We weren’t going to take the time for hand work. But when we did do a final rub-out those cabinets doors always looked and felt better.

I agree with DBDesigns that wet sanding with 400 or finer sandpaper is a great treatment. I usually start rubbing out with 600 grit, then 1000, 2000 and 4000. I use Abralon pads on my orbital sander, though I just as often sand things out by hand. Sometimes, if the finish is pretty smooth, I would just do the final rub starting with 2000 grit. Abralon pads are fabulous, they last a long time. I think your piece would benefit from a few more coats of finish, since wipe-on finishes are so thin. But definitely sand between the coats with a hard block so the highs and knocked down a bit, and the lows are raised up. 320 or 400 grit would be good for this.

Old finisher’s trick is to have all the under-coats be gloss (for brilliance) and the final coat satin. That gives a nice depth without the work of rubbing out the final gloss coat to satin. But then, you’re going to rub it out anyway, so gloss is just fine for all the coats. In fact, I think that final coat should be gloss. That way, you get total control of the final sheen. If you want more gloss, just rub out with finer pads (say 8000 grit), or less sheen, use 4000 grit or 2000 grit.

Wax will give that final touch that you will and your wife will absolutely love. I wax all pieces. Waxing over poly is just fine, done it thousands of times. But what wax? I suggest brown colored paste wax. It goes on thin, adds a just a bit more depth, and of course smoothness. If there are large open grains in your piece, then the paste wax will stick in the grains and be more difficult to rub off. If those cases, I use McGuires detailing liquid available at any auto-parts store. Absolutely clear, super thin, water-proof, high-tech detailing solution designed for cars is a super useful item to finish off your project or any other woodworking project. I gave a bottle of detailing liquid to all my customers, because they always wanted to know, how do I clean and wax the wood in this brand-new cabinet? Detailing liquid from the auto-parts store is the answer. It never gums up, doesn’t build thickness, is easy to apply. Give it a try.


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