Having Trouble Achieving A Glossy Finish

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Forum topic by Guss posted 09-20-2011 10:38 AM 1689 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Guss's profile


94 posts in 2406 days

09-20-2011 10:38 AM

Topic tags/keywords: finishing

Hi Im new here I am having trouble achieving a glossy finish I was wondering if any one had any suggestions? Or techniques to try?

13 replies so far

View rusty2010's profile


150 posts in 2523 days

#1 posted 09-20-2011 01:00 PM

I’m not sure what the problem is. I always spray Deft and use a sheen that I want. Whether it be satin, semi gloss or gloss

-- check, recheck then check again

View pmayer's profile


1026 posts in 3031 days

#2 posted 09-20-2011 01:14 PM

What type of finish product are you using? This should be relatively straightforward with surface finishes such as poly that are labeled as “gloss”, but can be challenging but possible using penetrating finishes such as tung oil or BLO.

-- PaulMayer,

View Guss's profile


94 posts in 2406 days

#3 posted 09-20-2011 05:10 PM

I guess I should have been more clear I’m having the trouble getting a smooth gloss finish. I have used a number of stuff including water and oil polyurethane, lacquer, and shellac. I am using a foam brush to apply and using steel wool between coats

View rawdawgs50's profile


82 posts in 2983 days

#4 posted 09-20-2011 05:40 PM


You said it smooth. That is the most important part. Its the reason that glass shines or a musical instrument with a great finish looks like glass.

Ultimately, the topcoat you are using should be a high gloss, but any imperfections in the surface area will give you…an imperfect gloss. Consequently, a very good gloss finish is pretty much the hardest finish to achieve because of what I just mentioned,but it is not impossible. It just takes extra time.

Since you are applying by hand, it will make it more labor intensive then if you were to spray. However, you will get there. The most important part is that every thing be dead flat. So many coats may be needed with a light scuffing in between using 320 grit to finally get you there. You are using steel wool…and frankly that is not goijng to “cut it”. You are using way to fine of a cutter to level your finish. Use 320 and you need to see dust as you sand. Preferably a 320 pad…of a block with 320 as long as the block has rounded edges.

Once Everything is dead flat and the top coat is applied…assuming you have no bugs or dust mess you up…and the finish comes togeterh and flashes/dries off…you will get what you want.

You can always buff it to a high gloss as well….but really that is the same thing as leveling…which needs to be done before you get it to that point. But whatever you do, be patient and allow the coats to individually dry…they must be dry in order for this to work right or it will just cost you more time.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4903 posts in 3926 days

#5 posted 09-20-2011 06:25 PM

Prep work is the key. I don’t use polycrapithane unless the project is a table top. Don’t use a foam brush on shellac. I like a quality wiping varnish, and it will take more time to apply (lots of coats). Shellac will yield a high gloss when french polished or wiped but it takes some practice Look up techniques on the web.
Are you able to spray? If so, sand to 220-300, seal with shellac, apply the material of your choice, sand 400, spray a wet final coat. Let the finish cure completely. Polish with a good finishing wax.


View Builder_Bob's profile


161 posts in 3025 days

#6 posted 09-20-2011 06:38 PM

What kind of wood?

Open grain species (oak, mahogany) need a filler or many topcoats to get a glossy shine.

-- "The unexpected, when it happens, generally happens when you least expect it."

View 58j35bonanza's profile


395 posts in 2658 days

#7 posted 09-20-2011 06:54 PM

I agree to the wood being flat.

I have found that spraying light coats and building up a couple of coats to start, and sanding with 220 at first and cleaning and sanding thru and up to 400 grit. Try to achieve a dull surface without any shinny areas in the wood grain.
Andy has a real nice tutorial “Art Box” Tutorial in the blog section and explains this real nice.
Basically I use his method and I’m sure I will try others as this site has so much information and the jocks are so willing to share their secrets.

Good luck with your woodworking.

-- Chuck

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 2953 days

#8 posted 09-21-2011 01:17 AM

Here is a blog on the subject.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3034 days

#9 posted 09-21-2011 02:10 AM

If you’re using gloss polyurethane, you need to keep it well mixed during application. Poly uses additives to achieve semi-gloss and gloss sheens, and if they’ve settled out you’re gonna wind up with satin.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View rawdawgs50's profile


82 posts in 2983 days

#10 posted 09-21-2011 05:11 AM

Actually that is incorrect. Gloss has nothing added to it. What is added is flateners…to varying degrees which creates a semi or satin or flat finish. Gloss requires no stirring to mix these flateners.

View Guss's profile


94 posts in 2406 days

#11 posted 09-21-2011 05:23 AM

Ok for my prep i run the pieces through a drum sander with 80 grit then i get out the random orbital sander and take it to 220. I think my problem is coming form the way it is getting applied. I have a HVLP Spray gun that i have used for painting but never tried for finishing wood. Is it similar? I have also tried using micro mesh and a soft foam pad to to get the finish flat, but I ended up with places that had finish and other places where down to wood. what is the best way to go about applying a shellac?

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3543 days

#12 posted 09-21-2011 05:31 AM

Hi Guss welcome to Ljs
assuming you have sanded properly an applied several coats and then rubbing the top coat out you can get amazing gloss if that’s what you want.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3034 days

#13 posted 09-21-2011 05:52 AM

You’re right, rawdawg. I must have been in the midst of a senior moment. – lol

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

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