Varnished Finish

Hi, Although I'm pleased with the varnished finish on a bath panel I made. How do manufactures achieve that glass like finish? I sanded down with finishing paper and wiped clean with white spirit between each coat.
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First, manufactures do not use varnish. It's prohibitively labor intensive. It long drying time also makes it time prohibitive.
They will use a lacquer, in many cases a catalyzed or pre catalyzed one. Lacquer dries very quickly and several coats can be built up in a matter of hours.
They also use some very expensive spray equipment and have highly skilled people doing the task.
To achieve the same level of finish in your shop you are mostly going to have to resort to rubbing out your finish.
First requirement for a really perfect finish is to make sure every coat is perfect before adding the next. You do not want to be trying to dig out an imperfection that's buried under three or four coats of finish.
Once the last coat is cured you start refining the finish with ever finer grits of abrasives until you reach the gloss/sheen you desire.
IE, 220 sand paper, 0 steel wool, 00 steel wool, 000 steel wool, 0000 steel wool, pumice, rotten stone, automotive rubbing compound, automotive polishing compound.
Needless to say, since the process is one of making scratches in the finish, the more scratch resistant the surface the more work it is. Varnish can be a ball buster.
Good luck
--
Mike G.
Heirloom Woods
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Thanks, I didn't realise the manufacturers use a lacquer.

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Mike, would you discuss pressure to use in rubbing out and rough time involved in each step of grits? I find minimal pressure and little time get it done on small boxes.
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I can't really put a time on it. There are too many variables. Size of project, type of finish, condition of finish before starting.
Like sanding wood,most of your work should be to remove any flaws in the finish with the first grit. After that all other grits are merely to remove the marks of the previous grits. As you note,light pressure is the pretty much the rule. You're trying to refine the finish, not remove it. Of course even a "light pressure" is a variable depending on what the finish is. It takes far lighter touch to finesse a shellac finish then it does a much more scratch resistant poly finish.
Hope it help. It's kind of vague I know but it's just that kind of thing you have to do and practice to develop a feel for it.
Take care
--
Mike G.
Heirloom Woods
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Just saw a video where the guy refinished a piece. He laid down first coat and DRY sanded with 320 until no shiny spots were left. He laid down the second coat and WET sanded with 400 until there were no shiny spots, laid down another coat, WET sanded with 600 until there were no shiny spots, thinned last coat of poly with 10% mineral spirits so that it flowed better. Looked mirror like to me.
Sam

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