"...Building the finish..." - CN Looking back and this is so true

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Forum topic by AngieO posted 01-02-2014 11:23 PM 1338 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1267 posts in 2174 days

01-02-2014 11:23 PM

So… I’ve been looking back at some of my old projects. Once I started getting better (not great… just better) at the cutting and assembly of my projects, I’d be pretty happy with my project… till I’d get to the finishing. Then everything would fall apart. And the wonderful project I had just been working on is now ruined. I look back at some of my first pieces and I’m quickly seeing that “building the finish” is the way to go.

I know alot of you know where I heard that from. And most of you know who Charles Neil is. But man… I’m so much happier with how my projects are coming out now that I’ve watched some of his videos and learned more about how to get a good finish. Of course… I have the Charles Neil Pre-Stain. LOVE IT! I use a lot of pine and its invaluable for any of those projects. But I also pulled out some of my test pieces that I did back at the end of summer and it’s SOOOOO obvious which pieces I used the product on. Now that I have my Christmas orders out of the way… and all those dang projects that they want painted… I can start building some projects and not have to worry about the “dreaded finishing” part.

The LAST painted project is in the garage drying with the final coat of Deft Lacquer on it. Tomorrow… time to make some sawdust and start new projects. (maybe finish some old ones too). Tonight… Charles Neil on YouTube. :) (or actually from his website.

So… would love to hear what your “go to” finishing techniques are. I generally will use a wipe on poly. I have found that I really like General Finishes. I DO NOT like Minwax poly. I do like the finish I got from the Deft Spray Lacquer. And I’ve used some polyacrylic on a small picture frame. I also used a little BLO on some shop projects but not on anything else.

15 replies so far

View Alongiron's profile


648 posts in 2720 days

#1 posted 01-02-2014 11:33 PM

Hello Stranger! I have been away for awhile out of the country visiting relatives in Sweden and Norway and am just getting back into the swing of things in my shop…It sound like you have had a few Ups and a couple tough downs…hope you are feeling better after your fall!

Anyway…one of my favorite ways to finish is to use a piece of 400 grit sandpaper and a mix of tongue oil and varnish….what happens is that when you use the sandpaper, it will make some saw dust..this sawdust will get into the pours (sp?) of the wood and fill them, the varnish will harden them…let this dry and do it one more time the same way you did the first!...give it a try

Good Luck to you and Happy New Year! We may have to try and do lunch again!


-- Measure twice and cut once.....sneak up on it! Steve Lien

View DocSavage45's profile


8601 posts in 2870 days

#2 posted 01-02-2014 11:57 PM

Any questions. Charles is the go to guy on current finishes, types of finishes and problems with and in finishing. I think the situation is time. Also preferences. But As Charles says “Oil Based finishes will be a thing of the past.” Probably most evident in California.

Charles calls himself a “finisher” although he is a 20 year veteran of building and making mistakes in furniture. I remember one of the first things he said, and continues to say. “Treat both sides of the wood the same.” Whether that is veneering or putting on a finish coat.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View AngieO's profile


1267 posts in 2174 days

#3 posted 01-03-2014 12:05 AM

Hey Steve! Hope you had a great time. Yep… Ups and downs for sure. Lol

Doc… Love Charles Neil. Watching his classes on finishing right now. He is definitely my go-to guy. I’m about to watch some videos on trace coating :)

View hoss12992's profile


4043 posts in 1920 days

#4 posted 01-03-2014 12:08 AM

Im a huge fan of Youtube to get ideals on some new finishes that I have not tried. Lord knows I have sent a number of messages to LJers that I thought could help me out in the finish department as well. Some of the LJers that had a particular finish on a particular project, that I wanted to try on a new piece, have been a valuable resource. Im a huge fan of tung oil and poly, especially on cedar and also on oak, which are the 2 woods that I do alot of projects out of. I have also, as of late, been using a number of the Cabot stains. I really like that they have alot of colors to choose from, as well as a few different translucent levels in each color. I have been wanting to try some milk paint. Have you used milk paint before? If so, what are your thoughts on them? Im always open to try new finishing techniques. Feel free to suggest any that you really like. Happy New Year

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View DocSavage45's profile


8601 posts in 2870 days

#5 posted 01-03-2014 12:43 AM

He’s written a complete book on finishing…what else. Took him a long time to write it actually wrote it twice. A1Jim has read it and recommends it.

If you have a few bucks hangin loose might be worth it.

I’m impressed Angie, even if you have trouble walkin from the shop to the house. LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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1267 posts in 2174 days

#6 posted 01-03-2014 12:52 AM

LOL! Too funny. We have lots of snow here in Southern Indiana right now… and I somehow made it out to the shop several times today without falling. Of course… I was really watching my step. :)

hoss… I have not tried milk paint yet. There is actually a little downtown store in town that has classes on it. I thought about checking one out. I do want to try it.

View gwolfe1977's profile


228 posts in 1838 days

#7 posted 01-03-2014 02:19 AM

I usually finish sand with 320 or 400 grit. I then spray on my poly ( Minwax), sorry Angie. I thin the poly down with a urethane grade reducer to make it more sprayable and apply 3 to 4 coats depending on the wood. 25 to 30% reduction works best for me. It let’s the poly flow or level out more when its thinned.

-- Gary,Nebraska

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20599 posts in 3132 days

#8 posted 01-03-2014 03:16 AM

Sanding to a real smooth finish is very important. Check to see that any scratches from the first sanding grits are removed. Go to about 220. Then you have to remove the dust by vacuuming of blowing off the surface and then you finally get to apply finish or stain first. Use 400 grit between finish coats and it will just get smoother from each coat. Depending on the shape of the product and the intricacy will determine if you can brush.wipe it or have to spray it. It is not good to brush/wipe a lot of little spindles or small carved parts – too much running and build up- spray them.

Polyurethane is one of the best finishes for items that will get wear. It is really durable.
Use outdoor finishes for items that will be in the weather to protect all your hard work and so you don’t have to refinish soon.

You are making some real nice products and the finishes are looking good!!

Nice to see your projects!!!!!!!...............Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View hjt's profile


850 posts in 3165 days

#9 posted 01-03-2014 03:48 AM

So far I’ve not done many finishes on my projects. As for stains (not sure this counts) but I’ve used Flood products and get great results on fences and decks I would imagine it might do well on other projects.

Gary: what is urethane grade reducer? I’ve used Mineral Spirits to thin poly.

Hoss: – have you ever used Flood Stains?

Steve: – like your idea of sanding with tongue oil. I’ll try that sometime.

-- Harold

View sras's profile (online now)


4812 posts in 3156 days

#10 posted 01-03-2014 03:49 AM

A few comments:

1. When sanding, I use each progressive grit. I frequently check for deep scratches and, if I find them, I go back to the coarser grits and clean them up.

2. A lot of time with the coarser grits make the finer grits go by quickly. Depending on the situation, my first grit is anywhere from 60 to 100.

3. I have recently been useing sanding sealer (by Zinser) and a water based gloss Polyurethane (By General finishes). The water based finish is easy to work with, easy to clean and really shines well!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View AngieO's profile


1267 posts in 2174 days

#11 posted 01-03-2014 04:15 AM

Gary… I don’t like Minwax poly… but… I’ve never used it like you are talking about. So that may make a difference.

sras…. Actually on my last project I found just what you said in #1 to be true. I did the same thing. Since watching the videos the first time back in the summer I’ve started my sanding with a 60 (or 100 if there’s not much to work on), then move up to 120 (or 180) and then finish with the 220. I seem to like the result with that.

I also use the Charles Neil pre-stain as well. Next project I’m going to try some trace coating to see if I like that.

I really like the General Finishes products. I have the poly in satin and gloss and some of their dye. So far… really liking them.

Bought some Rustoleum the other day. Seemed to like it just fine. Also my minwax stains have come out better with the pre-stain.

So… spraying….??? I’ve been interested in getting a sprayer. BUT… I’ve found that on every gun I’ve looked at.. they require a larger air compressor than I have. Would love to hear some feedback on this. I do plan on getting one by the summer. But… apparently will need a new compressor.

View gwolfe1977's profile


228 posts in 1838 days

#12 posted 01-03-2014 05:05 AM

What size compressor do you have? Hvlp paint guns can be used at lower pressure than the conventional guns, hence their name, High Volume Low Pressure. You may have to check out your local auto parts store or a store that caters to collision repair to find an hvlp gun. I use a touch-up gun for a lot of my smaller projects. It can be used at 8-10 psi. Oh! Spray gun tip size will be a question you may get asked when shopping for a spray gun. I use a 1.4 tip for my larger gun and a 1.0 in the smaller..

-- Gary,Nebraska

View AngieO's profile


1267 posts in 2174 days

#13 posted 01-03-2014 05:12 AM

This is what I have.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5706 posts in 2840 days

#14 posted 01-03-2014 05:19 AM

I like Rodda, Varathane, and Cabot brand stains in that order. They are heavy bodied stains that help unify the boards in a project, yet won’t obscure the grain like gel stains.

For cherry I use a 3:2 mix of denatured alcohol to Zinssner Seal Coat shellac as a pre-stain conditioner.

I spray two coats of pre-cat lacquer. I will often rub the finish out with #0000 steel wool and Howards walnut wax.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View DocSavage45's profile


8601 posts in 2870 days

#15 posted 01-03-2014 05:19 AM

Check out Harbor freight online or a store near you. If you are going hvlp, Charles has a lot on this.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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