Finish used for quick/smooth/durable surface

I am looking to finish a few pieces of wood for a closet system as well as a few other projects. The thing is that these projects dont require a perfect mirror-sheen as on a cherry coffee table, etc. I am looking about how to make a smooth and water-tight finish like you would find on the commercially available stuff. For example there are plenty of cheap products at IKEA that have a really beatiful clear-coat over a birch wood. Their finish seems extremely smooth and extremely durable. (Its not melamime or other "fake" wood grain coating. In some cases it is wood veneer, but the finish is still really beatiful and the grain shines.)
Is this possible with brushes, sandpaper and/or rubbing on any hobbyist product or do the big manufacturers have access to tools/finish blends that are not accessible to everyone else? I am basically trying to figure out how much time/effort it takes to create a simple sealed and smooth clear finish?
--
Thanks,
David



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A lacquer finish is probably the way to go for starters. You can get it as smooth as you desire by rubbing it out. There are numerous sources on the web that describe the process of rubbing out a finish. Check them out.
Brian.

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wrote:

a good buildable clearcoat will give the protection you want. a pore filler underneath it will give a smooth base for the clearcoat.
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spray. it's fast and easy. i first shoot a sealer coat, and then two or three coats of water-based lacquer. anyone would look at the end result and think it came out of a factory - just beautiful.
for products, i like the target coatings stuff:
http://www.targetcoatings.com/products/sealers/em_8800.html (sealer) http://www.targetcoatings.com/products/coatings/oxford_spray_lacq.html
enjoy!
---- dz
David wrote:

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I saw lacquer, pore filler and spraying mentioned in replies here. IMO they all work fine if you know what you're doing and have forgotten what doesn't work:-) Firstly, none of them is really water tight. Nor are many of the commercial finished items, although they will ignore simple spills. To better answer your question, you probably need to clarify two items:
1- Describe the surface use, regarding type of wear. Food and liquids? Throw keys on the surface? Cups in coasters only, or maybe rarely even touched? 2- How much of a surface sheen do you want? Do you need a fully smooth surface, or can the wood grain and pores show?
Depending on these answers, your work could go from hours to several days. You might spray and get by with a $40 sprayer, or need to spend over $600 for sprayer and compressor. Everybody talks about what they do and what they like, but it's hard to give enough details for you to see if you like it also. Whatever you might try, start with scrap projects and expect to make more scrap for a bit. Also check out some finishing books, especially from Flexner and Jeff Jewitt.
I'll also note that none of the 3 replies I saw mentioned how long it took them, which was half of your question. GerryG

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Well, I guess my point is that I am trying to get into wood finishing, but I want to have the same comfortability with finished items that I make that I have with stuff I purchase. I haven't really bought any furniture where the finish degraded unless I personally put a dent in it. My coffee table from Target has a smooth finish over a wenge stain and I have abused it regularly and the finish has never broken down. I feel that if I drop some food on it and then pick it up and eat it, I am not getting contaminated.
So far there seems to be so much conflicting information for do-it-yourself type finishing, but I still can't find the answer on how to create a comparable finish in a reasonable amount of time? I want to know if that is possible or if those factories have special exepensive tools/blends that produce a superior finish than can't be found with brush or rub on?
The other night I test sanded a piece of pine 2x4 with 220 grit and then put 3 coats of Deft Brushing Lacquer. I was actually amazed at how the brush strokes dissapeared within seconds. After the final coat I used 0000 steel wool and created a beautiful clear coat that showed a lot of shine even for stud-grade pine wood. The surface was smooth and felt waterproof, I was very excited. However I did notice that the same flexibility that allowed the steel wool to smooth the surface also made it susceptible to regular scratching. I gouged it purposely with my fingernail and could see a clear mark that was made. I could not remove the mark without re-rubbing with the steel wool. I tried the same thing with a few pieces of furniture I have bought and did not have the same problem. After this experience, I did some more reading and find that Lacquer is more susceptible to scratches than other finishes. Another problem is that it seems the smell takes a long time to go away. So I look at my coffee table or my bar chairs and wonder how they got such a smooth and durable finish that I feel I could lick off of without ingesting chemicals!
Anyways, I haven't yet tried the polyurethane products or the water-based acrylic finishes, so I will be doing a lot more testing on scraps before I decide what to do, but ultimately I am just looking for a finish that would be non-toxic, holds up against liquids and feels "clean" to the touch.
--
Thanks,
David
"GerryG" < snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com> wrote in message
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wrote:

Some general rules-of-thumb:
Finishing cannot be hurried. It takes as long or longer than the construction.
Most clear wood finishes require a minimum of 28 days from application to full cure. This means that checking hardness/shine the day after you apply it will give you false indications.
Brushing will not give you near as good a finish as spray, unless you're prepared to put in a LOT of elbow grease.
DEFT is crap.
Unless you really want the deep show-room shine look, go with Watco Danish Oil. Easy to apply, non-toxic after everything has evaporated, easy to apply, etc, etc, etc. You may have to go more than 3 coats.
If you DO want the show-room shine, go with a good HVLP spray outfit, Ultima Spray Lacquer (water-borne) from Target Coatings, and the appropriate amount of labor to polish it. And dont set anything on it for at least a month.
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David,
I'd like to humbly suggest that you avoid Deft. Many years ago I made the mistake of finishing an unfinished stereo cabinet with the stuff. It doesn't hold up well, even with minimal handling. When I think of finishing products that SUCK, two brands come to mind: Minwax and Deft. I don't like Minwax because of the obnoxious smell and the loooong drying time needed, compared with other stains such as Zar or DriFast by Bonakemi.
I think you find that "factory finishes" utilize some nasty catalysts and solvents such as xylene that you would be wise to avoid. The safest way to get a reasonably decent finish in a home shop is to get an HVLP and explore water borne coatings.
Pick up a copy of Bob Flexner's book on finishing.
David
David wrote:

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Deft what? Minwax what?
Both make many finishes and formulations.

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Brushable lacquer Stains
David
George wrote:

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AAMOF I was just discussing Minwhacks stains with a fellow I struck up a conversation with at the lumberhouse this morning. He mimicked my thoughts on the product line nearly verbatim! :)
David
David wrote:

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So? A lot of people are misled by what they hear and choose to believe. That's what makes politics.
Looked at your favorite stain's composition and found it to be a formulation similar to the Minwax stain and varnish product. Thinner is the same, so your nose must be playing tricks on you.
Also, lacquer thinner is still 90% the same everywhere.
Other than that, your argument makes sense.

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I'm not misled. I've used Minwhacks stains over the years, and finally realized other brands are much better overall. I didn't get "talked" out of using it; I learned my lesson from experience.
David
George wrote:

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I'll generally agree with David here. IMHO, what they tell you on the can just isn't the whole story. Someday you might try a side-by-side comparison and see. GerryG

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Just an update.
After testing a lot of the different finishes I have found that the Polycrylic by Minwax appears to be great stuff.
- I took a small block of pine and sanded with 220 to smooth and tacked - Brushed on a coat of clear high-gloss polycrylic - Sand with 220 and tack - Another coat - Sand with 220 and tack - Another coat - Sand with 400 and tack (this time used wetsand sandpaper because i couldn't find non-wet 400 sandpaper, but it appeared to work fine) - Final coat
So this was 4 coats overall (3 were recommended) and the product recommended 2 hours between coats. The final was glassy smooth and very durable (passes my thumbnail dent test). There was nearly no odor during application nor after and the final finish seems to bead up water quite nicely. I can imagine it might breakdown with heavy water use if right next to a faucet or something like that, but it appeared very water-proof.
Anyways, for my purpose, this seemed amazingly easy to apply. The brushable lacquer from Deft also produced beautiful results with even easier application (no sanding between coats), however the lacquer smell was horrible and lasted even days after the coat was applied. (I found that applying some surface polishing cream and buffing mitigated the smell a lot tho). The lacquer also seemed a little too flexible since the thumbnail dent test showed it was a little too easy to damage through casual use.
I think the Deft brushing lacquer would be great for stained crown molding or other things that dont really get touched and you dont want to have to do a lot of work between coats. (The brushing lacquer also allowed recoats in 1 hour). My only fear would be if this stuff gives off gas as it heats up in the summer or in a fire? (Any worse than the polycrylic anyways?)
For anything else I would handle or expect my child to touch, I definitely recommend the polycrylic.
Thanks for all the advice! I know some have opinions against minwax, so if there is another non-toxic polycrylic that is better, recommend away!
--
Thanks,
David W. Lovell
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Thanks for the report, wish more would.
wrote:

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Minwax wipe on poly is also very good. Applies easily with a rag, and no brushes to clean. Between coats keep the rag in a zip lock bag. Recoat in 2 hrs. Comes in satin and gloss finishes. Although, I have only used the satin finish myself. I have used it on bare wood and stained surfaces without any problems. 4 coats with a very light sanding between the coats will give you a decent smooth surface.
I dislike the regular brush on poly, it's too thick, even with one coat it looks like a sheet of plastic.
But that's just my experience.
Pat
On Sun, 15 Aug 2004 10:05:16 -0400, " snipped-for-privacy@vcoms.net"

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...

I think if water resistance is and toughness are your main criteria then you might want to look at a polyurethane.
Personally I don't much like the look of most polyurethanes and instead opt for oil/varnish mixes or shellac. Even though those finishes are not quite as durable, to my eye they look a little better. To each his own.
All can be applied with a regular brush. You'll want to do it in a place that's not too dusty. Sand with 400 grit or so between coats. After the last coat has thoroughly cured, you'll want to do a final polish with 0000 steel wool and wax (to remove bumps in the final finish).
It usually takes several days after application for the final finish to reach full hardness.
As others have said, there are fine books on the topic out there by Flexner, Jewitt, etc.
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