Laborious finishing, and advice requested.

So 'fess up. Among those of you who have paid any attention to my slow-motion project, how many secretly knew that it would prove to be a chore to finish?
https://www.flickr.com/photos/gdguarino/13973492620/in/set-72157644207411490/lightbox/
(I'm building two of them)
I spent most of the weekend applying gel stain to the various parts. To be fair, the first several hours were devoted to prep; vacuuming the shop and the work, arranging places to put the parts while they dry, etc. Oh, and re-sanding some little imperfections I hadn't noticed before. Damn that raking light.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/gdguarino/15801761882/in/set-72157644207411490/lightbox/
But I must have spent close to eight hours applying the stain, and wiping off the excess, of course. The "ladder" sides, which I pre-assembled, took the longest time, specifically all the little inside corners.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/gdguarino/15806347875/in/set-72157644207411490/lightbox/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/gdguarino/15776530506/in/set-72157644207411490/lightbox/
(don't worry, I'll be replacing those dowels)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/gdguarino/15614782878/in/set-72157644207411490/lightbox/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/gdguarino/15620945358/in/set-72157644207411490/lightbox/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/gdguarino/15186888523/in/set-72157644207411490/lightbox/
I had made some test pieces using General Finishes Gel Varnish as a topcoat, with good results. But now I'm rethinking it. I'm wondering if I should use something that won't require so much laborious removing of "excess" product. I'd like a satin low-buildup "adult" finish. Thoughts?
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On Monday, November 17, 2014 6:19:45 AM UTC-6, Greg Guarino wrote:


Not necessarily a chore, but time consuming and patience, if you want to do a good job. The more projects you do, the easier the procedures become. Simply concentrating and doing one procedure at a time and, before you know it, the whole is complete.
Resanding? I think for everyone, the more you look at the project, you'll always find something that needs more sanding. There comes a time you hav e to draw the line and stop, but you want it to be right. Satisfy yourself , not someone else. I find, if I am pleased, usually everyone else will be agreeable.
It looks great. Consistent color shade throughout the project. It pays to pay attention to all those kinds of details.
Sonny
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On 11/17/2014 6:19 AM, Greg Guarino wrote:

8 hours? AND I thought I was anal. ;~) Use a q-tip to apply to the tight corners and this is probably where you should have prefinished before getting to this point.

If you are serious about it being a lot of trouble removing excess product, you are probably waiting way too long to remove it. With the gel stains/varnishes wipe it on in a square foot area and immediately wipe it off and move on. Let dry over night and if not dark enough add another coat. The gel stain should not be drying at all before you wipe it off.
With the gel varnishes, they should be dry enough after 5~10 minutes for you to handle with out it feeling very tacky.
For some reason, and I have use this brand varnish about 3 times in the past, I don't like General Finishes Gel Varnish.
Until the light came on in my head and I actually quit reading too much into the directions I was so so about Old Masters Gel Gel Varnish. Now I love it. But if you are happy with General Finishes Gel Varnish, great. I am 50/50 with General Finishes gel Stains. 4 years ago I used a java GFGS and the product would not stay. If there was any overlap, the stain came off. This past summer I used GFGS Georgian Cherry on Mahogany and it was GREAT!

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Personally, I rather like finishing...it is when all the donkey work comes together and you have something pretty.

Eight hours? Double gasp!! If I spent more than an hour doing the lot I would be pulling my hair.

Lacquer. Nitro celluose lacquer. That is what is used on virtually all commercial wood furniture. Best applied via spray but I don't have spray equipment so I use Deft's Clear Wood Finish, semi-gloss, which is basically lacquer meant for brushing. It is easy to apply, easy to sand, easy to get a decent looking and durable finish. If I want less shine, 0000 steel wool does the trick.
One normally applies 3-4 coats but it dries quickly and all coats can be applied in a day. After the last coat, it will look awful...uneven in thickness, maybe a minor run, etc. Wait a week. After a week all the solvent has evaporated and the lacquer has shrunk down tighter and smaller than a banker's heart.
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On 11/17/2014 7:19 AM, Greg Guarino wrote:

Good job Greg, and that's not a lot of time. If you want to go faster, then spray on woods that are not splotchy. Oak is one of those woods that you can get away with a lot.
Maple, pine, you have to work hard on. Gel, or prefinish with a wash of shellac. Yes you can spray stain or dye.. You just have to know that less is better, and build it up, and you build stain while it's wet, and dye when it is dry.
Barring a spray rig, put some good music on, and enjoy. it looks like you will have a very nice outcome.
--
Jeff

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wrote:

Eight farkin' hours?! After about an hour of staining I ready to throw what's left of the damn can of stain at what hasn't been done and call it quits! ;-)
Seriously, if I add up the time sanding, cleaning, re-sanding, re-cleaning, taping off surfaces that will be glued at assembly, staining, applying poly, sanding, more poly, more sanding, even more poly and taping surfaces adjacent to glue joints to prevent squeeze-out contamination on even a small project eight hours is far from excessive. Tedious, yes, but not excessive.
So far what you've done looks real good.
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+1 on the lacquer, except I would use a heavy bodied sanding sealer to help fill in the open grain of the oak. I think lacquers are by far the easiest finish to apply and the most forgiving. It's the only finish I use.
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