another sanding question

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Forum topic by sweets posted 10-02-2009 04:54 PM 1037 views 1 time favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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42 posts in 3356 days

10-02-2009 04:54 PM

I’m finishing up a children’s table and chair set made out of red oak. I’ve sanded with 100 – 150 – 220; however, some crevices still remain in the grain of the wood but the top is smooth. Is this OK or should I resand starting with 80 grit? It just seems as though this would take off a lot of material. The project will be stained then sealed with either poly or laquer. What should I do?

A buddy of mine’s father-in-law, who is an experienced wood worker has been giving me tips and advice along the way which have been a huge help. He said the crevices were ok that there is a compound that I could get to rub into the grain to smooth it out. I don’t remember what he called it. He also recommended using laquer vs poly to finish the project. We don’t want the finish too glossy/shiny. What should I use?

-- Lee ---- South Louisiana

6 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4244 days

#1 posted 10-02-2009 05:19 PM

Lee, open-grained woods like oak and walnut will not get really smooth as glass no matter how much you sand. You can use grain filler if you are going for a super-smooth finish, but it doesn’t sound like that is really what you are going for since you said you didn’t want it too glossy.

For the finish, I would disagree with your buddy’s father-in-law’s advice and recommend you use sating wipe-on poly. It’s pretty fool-proof in application, and will hold up well.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View rowdy's profile


375 posts in 3468 days

#2 posted 10-02-2009 05:49 PM

Charlie is right on with his comments. In addition to wipe-on poly on some projects I sometimes apply BLO on walnut and then lacquer. I like the look I get and it is smooth to the touch, but the open grains are still evident upon close inspection. Never tried this with oak, but it might be worth a shot.

-- Rowdy in Kechi, Kansas

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3847 days

#3 posted 10-02-2009 06:47 PM

As Charlie said with oak, since it is an open grained wood, it is difficult to get a glassy smooth finish. Going for a glassy finish is really a matter of personal preference. Using filler is the fastest method to achieve a smooth surface although the same result can be achieved with multiple applications of finish but this takes a great deal of time to do.

I also agree with the recommendation to use poly. Lacquer can be a challenge apply as a topcoat. Wipe-on varnishes are much more forgiving and you can put 2 to 3 coats on in a day. Since wipe-on products are thinner materials you may have to put as many as 6 coats on to get the build that you are looking for.

In case you did not see it Marc Spagnolo posted a pretty good video on using wipe on varnishes yesterday that takes a lot of the mystery out of using them.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4125 days

#4 posted 10-02-2009 06:54 PM

Red oak is a very open pore wood. You will have to use the pore filler as Charlie and the others stated.

As a professional I use lacquers. Unless you use very specific catalyzed lacquers like I do you will not get the durability that a polyurethane will give you. Nitrocellulose lacquers that you typically see in the big box stores do not compare to poly in durability.

A wipe-on poly, regardless of brand, will give good protection and will be easy to apply. I would give 6 – 8 coats. This sounds like a lot but you have to remember that this is a wiping finish and goes on thin.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View sweets's profile


42 posts in 3356 days

#5 posted 10-07-2009 09:08 PM

Thanks for the responses. I think I’ll skip the wood grain filler and just use wipe on poly. I’ve never wiped on poly, but I’ll search the forum for a good ratio and I think I remember reading that most recommend cutting it with mineral spirits.

-- Lee ---- South Louisiana

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3351 days

#6 posted 10-08-2009 03:01 AM

Sweets, there is actually a product called “wipe on poly” – probably different brands make it – that you can buy and not worry about mixing up. I was very surprised to see it in my neck of the woods a few months ago. Either it was never there, or I never noticed it because I was never looking for it. This website attuned me to it’s existence.

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