Read this about how to get a smooth finish

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Forum topic by ToddTurner posted 10-01-2009 02:06 AM 1548 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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144 posts in 3564 days

10-01-2009 02:06 AM

Topic tags/keywords: finish spray urethane poly finishing sanding

This is my first time ever posting at Lumberjocks; its my first time posting anywhere for that matter. Anyhoo, a little about me-been woodworking since i was a kid, over 30 years. My wife wanted new kitchen cabinets and I was the man for the job! I made a sample cabinet door, with raised panels, rail and stile. It turned out nicely and she smiled so i new she liked it.
I am very good with the design and making, but lack knowledge when it comes to finishing. I have come to like the water-based finishes. I have a decent sprayer, but I use it in the garage. Ultimately, a nice little paint booth would be nice, but like the vast majority of the guys here, it aint happenin’! I always end up with finish that is nice, but rough because of dust in the air. I have tried using 600-1000 grit paper, but it dulls the finish and I am sure there is a way to do this, but I have sweated many a drop and haven’t been succesful yet. I was driving home today thinking I needed to clay-bar my truck again. (I am a freak about my truck. It’s an 07 F250, lifted, etc etc and has absolutely no swirl marks in the paint-slick as snot!) What a clay bar does it removes oxidation and tiny little specks and bumpy things in the paint, such as road tar, rubber, and so on. It makes paint as smooth as-well you get the picture. I tried it on freshly sprayed (24 hours old) clear, gloss and it worked beautifully. It didnt make it smooth as glass, but i didnt want that. It leaves some of the grain texture, but very, very smooth.
I promise I will not patent this technique or charge you for it. But in return I want you to try this and give me feedback as well as keep giving me your great ideas!

7 replies so far

View treeman's profile


208 posts in 3691 days

#1 posted 10-01-2009 03:04 AM

What is a Clay bar and where do you get them?

View Karson's profile


35154 posts in 4642 days

#2 posted 10-01-2009 03:15 AM

I’ve not heard of Clay bar. I guess you need to point us in the right direction.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

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1170 posts in 3700 days

#3 posted 10-01-2009 03:23 AM

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2828 posts in 3526 days

#4 posted 10-01-2009 05:20 AM

Todd, Thanks for the tip. I’m more interested in which of the water based products you use. I’ve tried different water based products over the years and alway end up going back to pre-catalyzed lacquers. One of the biggest problems I had with the water base is you had to be real careful what you put on the finish afterwards. I’ve had some waxes actually bleed into the finish even after curing for a couple days. I was surprised when you said that the claybar worked so well and even using mineral spirits for a lubricate. Please pm me with any info you have about the water based products. Thanks.

-- John @

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144 posts in 3564 days

#5 posted 10-02-2009 01:11 AM

the clay bar is very fine clay, in what looks like a small bar of soap. it can be bought at most any auto parts stores, made by mothers or california gold. it is made to smooth out paint on a car, such as road grime and tar and oxidation. it costs aboout $25 but is well worth it in my opninion.
i used the minwax version of high gloss clear coat.
i would not recommend using mineral spirits as it will remove the finish. using water is not enough lubrication for the clay to slide. you must use the provided liquid in the kit or the clay will tear apart and not come off the wood. the clay bar comes in a kit. please follow those directions. you cannot buy the bar alone.

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2202 posts in 3400 days

#6 posted 10-02-2009 04:19 PM

First time post here…

The clay bar sounds intriguing, but isn’t the tradiitional method just to rub-out the finish with either fine-steel wool or with pumice/rottenstone?

I’m redoing my own kitchen cabinets as we speak and am too contemplating the finishing job.

-- jay,

View ToddTurner's profile


144 posts in 3564 days

#7 posted 10-03-2009 01:55 PM

i am not an expert at anything really. i go by trial and error (mostly error) and listening to others. I do believe the traditional finishing method is 0000 steel wool, but for me it left the finish dull. Using the clay bar, it was smooth and flat. There was one area around one know that roughed up a bit, but 2000 grit paper knocked it down and the clay bard slicked it up. If you get the bar and dont like it, just go do your truck! hahahah.

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