Advice on achieving Glass-like finish on cabinets

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by irish620 posted 08-25-2021 06:30 PM 770 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View irish620's profile


68 posts in 3547 days

08-25-2021 06:30 PM

Hello Everyone,

I made one 36’’ cabinet, with side panel return, and one 27’’ cabinet out
of 3/4 baltic birch. Flat drawer fronts. Wife wants the super high gloss euro look pictured below.

I have a 4 stage HVLP to spray tinted oil based lacquer I
guess….....or go the route of water based product and
wet sand/buff? Latex paint then Clear Epoxy?

Not sure which direction to go. The euro stuff is thermo foil. A glass like
finish seems hard to achieve.

I have even seen Amazon sells a thermo-like adhesive product but it does look
like a great product.

Can anyone offer advice on different ways to get this finish?

24 replies so far

View CWWoodworking's profile


2183 posts in 1417 days

#1 posted 08-25-2021 08:16 PM

I think your going to struggle to get there with lacquer.

I might be wrong, but first thing I would ask my supplier about would be a 2k urethane.

Also, I don’t know if BB is the proper substrate. How are you sanding it? In consistencies may show with a finish like that.

Good luck.

View xedos's profile


431 posts in 539 days

#2 posted 08-25-2021 09:05 PM

MDF is what’s used in Europe for those doors that are painted. Many manuf. also offer a high gloss in laminate , and some even go as far as clear coating the laminate. The substrate on those is high density particle board.

You’ll NEVER get that look with latex house paint and clear coat or epoxy. Don’t even waste your time.

2k from Renner or Milesi will get you there – but it’s a pretty steep learning curve. Target coatings could be an option , but I’ve never used their super high gloss sheens.

View irish620's profile


68 posts in 3547 days

#3 posted 08-25-2021 10:27 PM

I had a bunch of the 5×5 BB plywood I wanted to use up, perhaps not the best choice.
Agreed, won’t even try latex, and have never sprayed a lacquer coat even close to that sheen.

What do you think about “rubbing the finish out” ? Haven’t ever tried it but maybe it obtainable that way?
Just throwing anything out there, all ideas welcome.

I have 4 drawer fronts, 1 return panel, 3 filler pieces and cabinet edges to finish. Its really not that much.

View 1thumb's profile


510 posts in 3395 days

#4 posted 08-25-2021 10:31 PM

Not a finisher but did a brushed oil based classic red finish w/6 coats of clear poly wiped on, tacked in between coats and it looked like glass. Like your second pic

View CaptainKlutz's profile


4886 posts in 2733 days

#5 posted 08-25-2021 11:07 PM

+1 2K urethane

+1 Getting a smooth plywood panel can be tough.
Have to build it up with grain filler, before sanding it flat.

+1 steep learning curve

IME – Outside of specialty 2-part urethane or UV cure commercial panel finishes, common wood finishes are not designed to create and maintain the mirror gloss long term. Will always be a little ‘hazy’ compared to bonded plastic (thermo-foil), or automotive clear coat.

Challenge is a mirror gloss requires sanding/polishing/buffing of the clear coat. This clear coating has to be thicker than is normally required for protection of wood. Thick coatings on wood tend to crack. Hence, hardest part becomes removing absolutely every imperfection in wood surface before color coat, and the laying down right film thickness clear coat.

Suggest you pretend you are painting a show vehicle?
Use grain filler, primer/sealer, base color coat, clear coat, then sand/buff and wax.

Visit the local auto paint supply and ask for recommended primer/base/clear combo on flexible fiberglass/wood panels. You need higher elongation materials to handle normal wood movement. Some auto coatings use additive for plastic bumpers that gives more elongation, and helps ‘hard’ auto paint work on wood too. Just don’t use too much, as it reduces gloss level.

Auto folks have been coating wood with urethane clear for couple decades.
Maybe decade ago sprayed an expensive (~$400/gallon) PPG auto urethane clear on Mahogany wood bed for a friend’s show truck. Saw it last year as he damaged a running board and wanted a replacement. Can still your reflection in the wood bed.

Sprayed some plywood test panels with in-expenisve U-Pol urethane clear coat, and SW distributed Finish One clear; when I had some mixed for body work. Didn’t use any additives. Both panels sat outside on AZ back porch for about year looking decent, until monsoon rain soaked them. I didn’t seal edges and the plywood de-laminated. So if cabinets are for kitchen/bath, make sure treat edges like face of any painted panel.

Best luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View DS's profile


3949 posts in 3659 days

#6 posted 08-25-2021 11:07 PM

Got news for you. RTF, rigid thermofoil, is not that nice in high gloss.

That looks like PET polyester to me.
See Mirlux website

Easy Peasy high gloss.

You can also get Acrylic laminate panels for the brighter colors.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS

View irish620's profile


68 posts in 3547 days

#7 posted 08-26-2021 01:14 AM

ugh, I had a bad feeling about this process.

Auto paint is a great idea but the learning curve will be steep for a finish
that I may only need to do once. Plus the material cost will be higher without a doubt.

Love the Acrylic laminate, perhaps its worth the leg work to track it down and get
a quote… doubt another high cost.

Guess I may need to revisit this particular finish…...unfortunately, the cabinets are sanded and awaiting finish.

View Foghorn's profile


1288 posts in 625 days

#8 posted 08-26-2021 03:36 AM

Nitrocellulose lacquer would do it but it’s nasty stuff.

-- Darrel

View Planeman40's profile


1559 posts in 3999 days

#9 posted 08-26-2021 10:59 AM

After 60 years of woodworking, my approach would be to apply multiple coats of shellac, scraping with a single edge razor blade between coats until you have a smooth and leveled surface. Shellac sands and scrapes well leaving a fine dust to wipe off. The object is to fill the low spots and scrape the high spots until the surface is level. Shellac dries fast too and is compatible with most finishes to be put on top. Finish the shellac with fine steel wool.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View 4wood's profile


105 posts in 1192 days

#10 posted 08-26-2021 12:20 PM

I just sent you a personal message with a link that will help you.

View irish620's profile


68 posts in 3547 days

#11 posted 08-26-2021 04:17 PM

Ok, is this the rough outline:

1. sand up to 220
2. use multiple coats of shellac (waxed or dewaxed?) as grain filler
3. Paint with latex color of choice (sheen concerns?)
4. Apply 3-4 coats of shellac again sanding in between
5. Then start the buffing out process

Or try SOLAREZ UV Cure Polyester Gloss Resin?

Or perhaps Waterlox Gloss finish?

View WoodenDreams's profile


1432 posts in 1149 days

#12 posted 08-26-2021 06:40 PM

There’s been couple times I cheated a layed the panels flat on the assembly bench, and poured Holloway House-Quick Shine floor finish. It dry to a gloss in 30 minutes and then rubbed some wax over it. Not my normal method, but was in a hurry to finish a project.

View DS's profile


3949 posts in 3659 days

#13 posted 08-26-2021 07:15 PM

I polished a lacquer finish to a mirror gloss once or twice.
It took longer to finish the finish than it did to make the piece.

If my memory serves, the PET and acrylic laminates are north of $200 per 4×8 sheet, (YMMV), but you will spend more than that value in labor to polish a sprayed on finish, imho.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS

View Robert's profile


4729 posts in 2719 days

#14 posted 08-26-2021 07:21 PM

I don’t know any way to get what you want without rubbing it out and buffing, even with a gloss.

Basically you’re looking at automotive type processes.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View irish620's profile


68 posts in 3547 days

#15 posted 08-26-2021 08:18 PM

Taking it all in guys.

Has anyone tried the Fine Paints of Europe – HollandLac Brilliant 98?

showing 1 through 15 of 24 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics