Finishing or painting both sides of a shelf

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Forum topic by SequoiaUA posted 09-14-2014 11:02 PM 2940 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 1668 days

09-14-2014 11:02 PM

Topic tags/keywords: finish shelves shelf painting double sided hvlp drips sag question finishing

I’m having trouble getting a precise finish on anything double sided, like shelves. I always seem to end up with drips on the underside, or sagging on the edges.

Let’s say I’m using General Finishes water based top coat. I apply it with a fairly dry applicator pad, yet I inevitably get sagging on the sides of my shelf. I let that side dry and then I coat the other side. After a couple of applications my edges look horrible.

If I spray using a HVLP unit, my opposite side always gets overspray on it, or drifting material floats onto it.

There’s got to be some kind of trick to this. How do you finish something on all sides?

5 replies so far

View AandCstyle's profile


3170 posts in 2432 days

#1 posted 09-14-2014 11:21 PM

It might not be practical for you, but I spray my finishes (waterborne) and very frequently/almost always do so before final assembly and glue up. I apply blue tape everyplace that will need to be glued. This allows me to spray virtually all pieces in a horizontal position eliminating the possibility of sagging. It has the added benefit of no overspray issues. I spray the less visible surface first, then flip it over and spray the edges, then the show side. Finally, I have a 20” box fan about 3’ from the spray table to keep air flowing away from the project. HTH

-- Art

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3217 days

#2 posted 09-14-2014 11:32 PM

I do the one side and then let it dry and then sand any problem areas on the other side, then finish. Usually just a light sanding is all it takes. You could try some painters tape but I have run into problems with that as well. Most of the time the under/other side isn’t seen or doesn’t get much of a finish. I guess it depends on the piece.

For me the best applicator has been the sponge brushes. They work for me, and the stick makes a good dowel.
Get a good amount of finish on the brush lay it down then keep going over it and cleaning up any booboos as you go. Look at different angles to see if you have any problems, if you go slow and keep moving the finish around it tends to smooth itself out. I keep the sides for last when the brush is pretty dry and you can pull the bulge on the top edges and smooth it to the sides. I spent a few hours on cheep/scrap pieces woods just trying to get my finish right. Still need a lot of work but I am learning from all here.

Really over time I have just gotten better at laying on the finish, . Hopefully there is some better suggestions coming soon. Good luck.

View firefighterontheside's profile (online now)


19252 posts in 2032 days

#3 posted 09-14-2014 11:41 PM

For most finishing I use a foam brush unless I’m spraying. I apply finish to a whole area and then go back to the beginning and very lightly re brush it just to even it out. I just drag the brush from one end to the other trying to only use the weight of the brush for pressure.
As far as the help goes, you either need to dial down the flow and or use a smaller needle. The needle that came with mine was described as the painting needle(2.0) and I bought the finishing one(1.5) separately. Try to make sure that you start spraying off the piece and continue spraying until you are off the piece. That way you are moving the whole time as opposed to pointing the gun at the piece, pulling the trigger and then moving. You will get a heavier amount right when you start and that may run or drift. Also be careful about where the air is blowing even with the trigger off. The air can move the finish.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View Blackcatbone's profile


32 posts in 1526 days

#4 posted 09-15-2014 05:25 PM

Most of my experience is with paint but a lot of what I do there seems to apply to other finishes, though I’ll focus on paint. First and foremost, I’d say about 90% of your finish will be determined by the prep. When sanding I give the edges a very slight rounding, almost imperceptible but enough to keep the paint from pooling there. I prefer a brush for most painting, staining I have mostly been using a cloth as I feel it gives me a bit more control but I may change my mind with a bit more experience under my belt. When applying the finish, whether paint or stain I work toward the edge and feather off to keep from leaving too much to drip. I do the larger surfaces first then follow up with the corresponding edge so I’m able to catch any drips. I always sand between paint coats with 220 grit and give it a good cleaning before applying the next. Hopefully something here applies and will help.

-- . . . it's cheaper than therapy.

View Earlextech's profile


1162 posts in 2866 days

#5 posted 09-15-2014 06:10 PM

+1 for AandCstyle!

-- Sam Hamory - The project is never finished until its "Finished"!

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