finishing problems

OK, I need some advice. I made a kitchen cabinet (birch ply and edge grain fir frames) - yes, that was me asking about door widths over 6 months ago; I had a blast and thought I learnt plenty, but obviously not enough about finishing ...
First off, every scuff and plane mark showed through, it looks like a distressed antique although it wasn't supposed to be that way. I know fir is hard to stain, so I used wood conditioner then gel (Varathane). But I couldn't feel or see any of the imperfections until the stain popped them out.
Second, a month later, the inside still has a smell like dead fish. It's finished with water-based poly (Varathane again), which I've used before but never with that effect.
So, help! What can I do different next time and what evil chemistry did I create? thanks, Will
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waney will wrote:

You need to spend more time sanding.
You need to spend more time sanding.
I say that three times becuase that's how it will feel when you're doing it. You sand, then you sand some more, then when you think you've done enough, you sand some more. The most important thing is to move to a progressively finer grit of sandpaper - and don't skip any! It's really easy to convince yourself that it's OK to go from 100 to 220 and be done with it, but you will never get all of the scratches out that way.
One thing you can try is to wipe the piece down with mineral spirits when you think you are done sanding. This should show you all of the sanding marks that still need to be sanded out.
Also, if you use a Random Orbit sander - move it slowly across the wood. I've heard a good rule of thumb is to move the sander less than an inch per second. Moving it too fast will result in swirl marks that will usually show up in the final finish.
As to the dead fish smell, I have no idea what would cause that. Maybe try putting a box of baking powder inside to clear up the smell.
Happy sanding,
Mike
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Yes, stains and finishes really make surface imperfections pop out. The solution is to like it, keep sanding, or use a smoother plain to removes dents and dings.

Go to Lowe's and buy Natural Magic Odor Asorbing Gel. This is normally found on the "Cleaning products" isle. The container is about 3" tall and round and typically had a red or green lid. The stuff works like magic and lasts for about 3 months. It comes in many aromas. It should make you cabinets smell better in a few days. If you keep the cabinet doors open the smell will go away faster.

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Don't know about the chemistry, but next time try sanding to around 600 grit before finishing--it's surprising how imperfections that were invisible at 320 or so pop out at 600--you'll probably have to go back to a lower grit at least once before you get a "clean" surface at 600.

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waney will wrote:

I usually stop sanding @ 150 or 220 when staining. If I'm using a power tool to sand, I'll do the last grit again by hand, with a felt block WITH the grain to remove any cross-grain scratches left by the power tool. Going beyond 220 that may "burnish" the wood, creating problems with stain absorption and pigment lodging. When staining, it also helps to go one grit higher on end grain, using the burnish to slow stain absorption and even the color
However, the key is to COMPLETELY sand the scratch marks from the previous grit off before moving on. A "raking" light (shining across the work) will show off many defects. The last step before any stain should be a a light wiping with mineral spirits or denatured alcohol. Use the mineral spirits if you're using oil or lacquer based stains, or the alcohol for water based products.
After the first clear coat, dust nibs and finger prints can be touched up with 320 or 400 grit under a cork or hardwood block. Drips and runs are best removed with a sharp card scraper.
If you have some stain and finish left, I suggest practicing your technique on some wood. Keep going until you get it down.
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"B A R R Y" wrote in message
<snip>

Good post, for somebody who hates to sand! ;)
For me, blowing off the dust with the air compressor between grits also seems to help cut back on scratches.
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 10/29/06
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Swingman wrote:

Excellent point. I forgot to mention that.
I don't _like_ sanding, but I'd have to endure a poor finish far longer than sanding properly.
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wrote:

Lighting is really important, both during sanding and when applying the finish. Also it helps to look at each surface from multiple angles. It's amazing how good something can look from the direction you were facing, but then go around to the other side and you see what a mess it is.
-Leuf
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It has already been stated sand, sand, sand. Howeve, mist the wood with water between sandings and let dry, this will raise the grain, and help get rid of the marks faster than just sanding.
I have never used water based clear, but I have used a lot of the water based paints. I put a little vanilla extract into the pain which changes the odor.
Joe

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