This wood finishing tips card is called Close to the Wood. When a finish is considered close to the wood, it means that the look and feel of the finish are almost like there has been nearly nothing applied to the surface. Here is how and when to use a close to the wood finish.
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Close to the Wood Finishing
This kind of finish can be really attractive, because it emphasizes the wood, and makes it feel much nicer than raw wood, without feeling over done. Many finishes are easily seen, but a close to the wood finish is not.
The nice thing about finishes like this, is you can manipulate nearly every kind of finish to be close to the wood. There are some exceptions of course, but for the most part any finish can be made to feel light and thin.
The important thing to consider is when you use this kind of finish, and when to apply a finish as normal. The type of project, and how the piece will be used in the end are two great indicators as to whether or not a close to the wood finish is the way to go. Here is how you do it…
Handling Close to the Wood Finishes
There are a few times when you are going to want a close to the wood finish. The first is when you really like the look. If you love the look, then feel free to use this kind of finish all the time. The only adjustment you will need to make is in how you handle the piece.
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Close finishes are not as durable as thicker finishes. There is an inherent weakness in a thinner finish, simply because the layer is not as thick. For this reason, it will show scratches, and take on water damage faster than a normally finished piece.
If you take more care with a piece with a close to the wood finish, you will be fine. Don’t get it as wet, resist scratching the piece, and be a little more careful. If you handle your projects well, then you can get a long life from this kind of finish.
How to Apply a Close to the Wood Finish
I typically use hand applied finishes, and I really love the way they look. If you are brand new to finishing, please take a look at my 10 Step Guide to Wood Finishing. Once you understand the basic process, then you can move on to this technique.
To apply a finish as a close to the wood finish, you just reduce the coats. You can then steel wool the piece to really thin out the feel. The goal is to make the finish layer look very thin and almost like there is nothing applied at all.
As you apply, make sure to use thin coats. This is the secret to wood finishing. Apply really thin coats, and coat the piece about half as many times as you would normally. Once the finish has fully dried, use the steel wool to smooth it out.
What Type of Finish to Use
Almost any finish can be applied close to the wood. However, oils and varnishes work the best. Lacquer works too. Simply coat the piece lightly, and allow it time to dry out. The lacquer will dry the fastest, followed by the varnish and oil.
Feel the surface to see if the coating is good enough to protect the piece. If not, then coat the piece again. The goal is still to protect the item, but not make it feel as though it has been dipped in finish.
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Once you feel like the piece is protected, then stop. Allow the project to cure out, and then if needed, lightly steel wool the surface. This will remove any rough areas, and it will also give the finish a smoother feel.
Wood Finishing Tips Cards – Close to the Wood Finishing Wrap Up
When you apply a finish that has the feeling of being very thin, and looks like nearly nothing was applied, this is called a close to the wood finish. Nearly any finish can be applied this way, and you will love the look.
The goal is to protect the piece, but to also give it a really smooth and natural feel. A thick coating of finish will not do that. In cases where you have smaller items, or items that will be handled carefully, a close to the wood finish is a great choice.
Coat the project with less than the normal thickness of finish. Then, allow it to cure following the directions from the manufacturer. After that, lightly steel wool the surface, and it will have a close to the wood smoothness that has to be seen to be appreciated.
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