Wood finishing tips

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Blog entry by Redford1947 posted 09-15-2010 11:20 PM 8548 reads 2 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have develped a technique that has worked on several pieces now with outstanding results. I first sand to 150 (more or less depending on wood and how dark I want the stain) then apply a wood conditioner. I have found that the conditioner is critical regardless of the wood.
Then I apply the stain. After drying I apply a first coat of poly, I like Minwax Semi-gloss, then sand with 320.
After drying I apply a second coat then sand with 400 grit wet dry automotive paper. At this point I use the paper dry.
Next comes a third coat of poly. When dry I sand with a 1000 grit automotive paper with lemon oil. This is followed by automotive rubbing compound. Finally, a coat of Johnson’s paste wax. The results are incredible. The finish is as smooth as glass. The compliments I have received have been outstanding. This has worked both on unfinished pieces as well as pieces that I have stripped and refinished.

8 comments so far

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5621 posts in 3681 days

#1 posted 09-15-2010 11:59 PM

Some photos of this would be interesting.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View chrisstef's profile


17311 posts in 2974 days

#2 posted 09-16-2010 12:20 AM

Photos would be sweet.

Ive used a simliar method using danish oil. Apply a coat let dry. Aplly a coat and sand with 320 wet. Wipe off against the grain. One more danish oil coat. Top with paste wax.

Great results, maybe ill have to give your method a shot as well.

BTW, welcome to Lumberjocks and be prepared to spend your next waking 48 hours staring at the computer screen Smokin the LuberJock Rock!! This place is addictive.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View jcontract's profile


84 posts in 3055 days

#3 posted 09-16-2010 02:15 AM

Do you need the wood conditioner if you’re not going to stain?

View Redford1947's profile


35 posts in 2778 days

#4 posted 09-16-2010 04:30 AM

I have several photos but don’t know how to attach them. I tried a screen shot but paste would not work.

I don’t think you need conditioner if you are NOT going to stain. The conditioner allows for a more uniform absorption of the stain. I have found that the conditioner needs to be wiped off immediately, not the 5-15 minutes the can states. I had to resand a section where it puddled.
I am currently working on refinishing a mahogany dining room table. Kind of experimented with one of the leafs and found the following:
1. sanded with 150 by hand. Even an orbital sander at slow speed left swirl marks. I used more stripper than I normally would to remove every last vestige of the previous finish versus sanding with 100 or less grits. Also, and very critical it reduced the risk of going through the veneer. Seemed a beautiful mahogany table deserved the extra effort. I was bound and determined to make the final finish look like a factory finish, so far it does.
2. After the first coat of poly sanded with 320, the alternated with subsequent coats and sanding in between with 400, 800 then 1000 grit, all except the 400 with lemon oil. The papers are only available at an auto parts store.
3. This reduced the amount of work with the rubbing compound then just going from 320 to 1000.
4. The rubbing compound removed any minute imperfections and provided a nice base for the paste wax. The paste wax, followed by a Pledge rub makes a semi-gloss almost like a mirror but a richer sheen. Very much in between semi and full gloss.

Would appreciate any suggestions on how to provide a photo.

View Toolz's profile


1004 posts in 3710 days

#5 posted 09-16-2010 02:28 PM
This is an excellent blog on how to post photos to this site.

-- Larry "Work like a Captain but Play like a Pirate!"

View Ampeater's profile


440 posts in 3715 days

#6 posted 09-17-2010 05:01 PM

I love the color and finish of the dining room furniture. What type of stain did you use?

-- "A goal without a plan is a wish."

View Redford1947's profile


35 posts in 2778 days

#7 posted 09-18-2010 04:34 AM

Old Masters Rich Mahogany from B. Moore. Rich color, sets up nice and wipes down smooth. The buffet is mahogany and the upper cabinets are cherry yet the stain enhances the color and grain of both woods. Looks different at one glance yet the same from another perspective.

View Redford1947's profile


35 posts in 2778 days

#8 posted 01-09-2011 06:29 PM

I would like to cut out individual letters from stock to attach to a toy chest. Most of the instructions and/or templates I have seen only deal with making a sign as opposed to individual letters. I would like to somehow purchase a jig for this. The plans I have for the box come with large letter diagram that can be traced onto wood which would then be cut out with the router. I am looking for something more user friendly that i can use my plunge router and simply “stay in the lines”. Any suggestions.


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