There are hundreds of secrets to wood finishing. However, there is really only one that you really need to know. Thin coats make finishing 1000 times easier than anything else you can do. If you apply thin coats, you will win at wood finishing.
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The Secret to Wood Finishing by Hand
Most new woodworkers have a habit of trying to speed things along. They feel unsure of their results, so they think if they go faster, they can get to the end faster.
While this does get you through the process quicker, it does not get you to the end in better shape.
Finishing is the same. New finishers tend to apply a thick layer of finish. This comes from the old thought that more is better.
They think a nice thick helping of finish will make their project beautiful, and save them time.
This is where most finishing projects fail. A super thick coating can take forever to dry, and sometimes it will never fully dry. The result is a gummy mess of a finish that detracts from the look of the piece.
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It also may render the project completely useless, especially if the finish never dries. Where a simple attempt to speed things up fails, taking the long way actually does speed things up in the end.
Apply Very Thin Coats
The only real secret to wood finishing that you need to know is to apply thin coats. This goes for just about every kind of finish. Hand applied finishes look great when they are applied thinly, and there are several benefits.
First, thin finishes dry faster. Drying faster is a good thing, because it allows you to add more coats faster, and build up your finish layer.
Second, thin coats lay down flatter. The last thing you want to do after finishing a piece is to have to sand out a run or a lump of dried finish. This adds more time to the process, and is easily avoided.
Third, thin coats require less maintenance in between coats. Normal finishing requires leveling in between the coats with fine sandpaper or steel wool. Not only does this add time, but it also is unnecessary for most finishes if you apply the coats thinly.
Finally, thin finishes have a close to the wood look. It really does not take much wood finish to coat a piece well. You really only need a thin layer to protect the wood. Also, the way the finish adds beauty will make your piece look nicer.
For hand applied finishes, my 10 Step Guide to Wood Finishing can help. It’s a free PDF that you can download to your computer. Save it, and read over the material. As you get better at finishing, you will appreciate the look that you can create using a traditional finish.
Just remember, the only secret to wood finishing that you really need to remember, is to apply very thin coats. Coats so thin that you feel like you are just rubbing the product into the wood and leaving nothing on the surface.
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Practice this in your shop. You will find that after a few coats, your piece looks far better than if you were to have done it in one coat.
If you have any questions on The Secret to Wood Finishing, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work on Pinterest! Happy building.
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