I've been working on our master baths. So far, I have faux painted the
walls, laid tile on the tub surround and the shower, laid floor tile
(roughly 4000 tiles total). Now I am working on the vanities. There are
two plus a floor to ceiling cabinet.
The plan is...
mahogany door drawer fronts
mahogany veneer on outside end panels
black paint on...
panel interiors and non-ends
I've been working on the face frame for the tall cabinet. Poplar, sanded
well; several coats of shellac sanded well for sealer. I sprayed it
yesterday with black semi-gloss. Looks like hell.
I've been doing stuff like this for close to 60 years and know full well
that a flawless paint job is very difficult; I had forgotten HOW difficult,
especially black (other than flat black).
Oh, I'll get it fixed...sand with 400 or 600 wet or dry, paint, sand, paint,
etc. but never EVER again (except for the other two face frames). I may
switch to flat :(
Hope that you used DeWaxed shellac... (or zinsser sanding sealer).
As far as looks like Hell, not sure what went wrong as you description
doesn't tell us where it went wrong.
I also hope you left some shellac on, that you didn't sand through. If
you did, that would leave you with a very uneven finish.
And yes, gloss black shows every defect... so you have to be real sure
you have a good base..
On Sunday, May 31, 2015 at 3:22:07 PM UTC-5, dadiOH wrote:
I hate to see that. With all the time and effort you have put here over th
e years to help those in a bind with their finishing efforts, it is frustra
ting to see hear of you having some serious problems. You certainly have t
he experience to know that no matter your experience level, no matter your
techniques, sometimes no matter... things just don't work right.
Wish I was there to help. At the least we could smoke a cigar and give the
whole thing a good cussin'.
The only small detail I would suggest would be to strip the finish off rath
er than to sand and sand and sand. Even with sanding, i the surface has fo
uling, it might not be removed with sanding.
I don't know that I could help in any way, but if you would post some detai
ls such as type of finish, application method, and all steps, maybe I could
help. On the other hand, it might take more time to type it all out than
to just get in the middle of the repairs.
Sorry to see that. Even as long as I have been doing finshing, I am not on
ly incredulous when the finish isn't what I want, but really pissed off.
Now is the time that you remember you are a craftsman, and finishing is a c
raft just like any other. You just don't get it right every time.
Good luck on your fix.
No, it isn't fouling, the problem is that the surface wasn't good enough.
As you know, no film is ever any better than the surface upon which it is
applied...any ding, unfilled grain, whatever will show. And it shows in
spades with semi-gloss black. With white, it would probably be acceptable.
Even with the black it only looks like hell if there is a reflection of a
light surce, either diffuse or specular.
Before the paint the surface looked fine. And with varnish or lacquer it
would look fine now. It is just really hard to see imperfections on raw
wood, almost as hard with a clear finish. Easier (sometimes) to feel them
rather than see them.
OK. As I said, poplar. Sanded to120 on my drum sander. After joining,
sanded again with 120 and a 1/2 sheet Portar Cable sander. Then sanded
again with 150, then with a 1/4 sheet sander with 180.
Then brushed on clear, dewaxed shellac, 3 heavy coats, dried 2 days.
Briefly sanded shellac with 220 and a small sanding block so I could see -
more or less - high spots. After that. 320 wet or dry, same size hand
block. I tried to be careful but still cut through the shellac in a couple
of spots. Vacuumed and wiped down well with microfiber after all sanding,
BTW. ( knew the cut through spots would show, figured they were shallow
enough to disappear after a few coats and more sanding inbetween).
Next, 3 light coats of Rust Oleum 280721 American Accents Ultra Cover 2X
Spray Paint, Semi-Gloss Black. Let it dry 48+ hours, sprayed a couple more
coats. I don't have spray equipment so I live in rattle can land if I want
to spray and - for these 2 1/2" rails and stiles - the spray pattern from
the cans seems fine. The biggest problem with most rattle can paint is the
necessity of recoating within one hour or after (at least) 48. In the one
hour time frame, it hasn't dried enough to really see what it is like; after
48 means sitting on your thumb waiting. In fact, even 48 hours isn't enough
sometimes...if there is a thick spot a new coat will cause it to reticulate
almost immediately, don't know why but I'm guessing from an agressive
What I really need is a high build primer/sealer that sands REALLY easily.
In my boat days, I used one from International. Wonderful stuff...dried
fast, sandable in an hour and sanded VERY easily. I always brushed it on
heavily, lots of brush marks but that didn't matter because of the ease of
sanding. It had originally been formulated for use on Phillipine mahogany
to fill it in one coat. And it did. Most got sanded off leaving a very thin,
semi-transparent layer that was smooth as a baby's bottom. It was still
made maybe 15 years ago - at about $125/gallon - but when I looked on the
web maybe five years ago it had disappeared.
Then there is the heavy bodied sanding surfacer for autos, either in cans or
rattle cans. It is good stuff too but all I have had has been lacquer based
and I can't use it now (unless I strip the work) without it eating the
paint. Maybe for the face frames I have yet to make.
I've given some thought to buying one of the inexpensive $100+-, HVLP
sprayers for use when I get to the partitions that will be painted black;
however, that is about the only use I will ever have for it and I may just
use a roller since they will be pretty much hidden.
Any thoughts you have will be appreciated, especially about a high build
primer/sealer/surfacer that sands REALLY easily. Preferably, one that can
be tinted to dark grey.
So that is really true. It is easier to feel them then it is to see
them. I used to do model airplanes (stunt planes ) we would get points
on finish. I wound up in the front row. Because a master builder
mentored me and told me your hands will pick up things your eyes will
miss. If your hand feels it, it's a problem.
I think rattle cans are good for some things, utility grade stuff. But I
would not consider it for semi or gloss black. To me that's either out
of a spray gun, or from a brush. With a brush thinner retarder work to
thin and prevent too fast flash time, that way it will flow out and lose
the brush marks.
You also can make your own sanding sealer. You can mix talcum powder
into a varnish or probably shellac. Sand it out, do it again, sand it
out, when done top coat the shellac or varnish. to seal the powder in.
The powder makes a nice sanding sealer.
Give it a try on a scrap first. you can mix different weights of filler.
Can't remember the exact name of a primer I used about 5 years ago but
it came from Sherwin Williams and was a high fill and guaranteed to
stick to almost anything. Was doing kitchen cabinets and it worked very
well even on the "fake" woodgrain ends. Did not flow really well and
left ridges but they sanded down to a very flat surface without having
to drink too many beers. Would suggest stopping in at a local SW dealer
and see what they have to offer.
On Monday, June 1, 2015 at 1:19:41 PM UTC-5, dadiOH wrote:
Well, that goes without saying! Toss in a good bourbon and you wouldn't be
able to get rid of me!
Well, allow me to get in the middle of this. I am sure that many of the th
ings I will tap out here you already know, but I am typing them simply to m
ake sure all the bases are covered.
Always. That's why clear coats, tinted coats and stains are so popular. A
chieving a "piano black" finish is a standard few can master. With that at
the top of the scale, results with different finishes fall quickly from th
Remember, this is my take; you mileage may vary. My comments are based on
my personal experience, mostly by me taking my favorite old route of learni
ng everything possible the hard way until I figure things out... that being
There is is no need for three coats of shellac, and certainly with sanding
sealer, never a need for heavy coats. Heavy coats serve no purpose, and in
fact can magnify your problems. With a blemish such as a ding, scratch, e
tc, the shellac will actually >>build up<< around the blemish, actually enh
ancing its size! This is known in some circles as "pucker". I know this s
ounds counter intuitive, but trust me on that. This has to do with the spe
ed of drying of the affected area. The thicker area at the bottom of a hol
e or scratch dries more slowly than the thinner edges, and as the edges dry
more quickly they pull up the finish a tiny bit making the hole "pucker".
Additional coats compound this problem, especially if there is no sanding
between coats. Trying to fill small holes or scratches with any kind of se
aler/finish/paint will not only reflect the blemish, but it will build with
So, two things there. First, sanding sealer fills nothing. Properly appli
ed it is a bondable substrate for almost any finish. Its cured state is a
semi permeable film which has its property of adhesion as its strongest poi
nt. It sill stick to almost anything, but its semi permeable nature will a
llow almost any finish to stick to it as well. Shellac is mistaken used as
a build finish by woodworkers, when it isn't. Its thinner cousin, the san
ding sealer is even less so. IF you are using shellac or sanding sealer, t
he application is the same. Many >>thin<< coats do the trick as it will re
solvate properly with itself from one coat to the next if the coat is thin
enough. As with lacquer, when properly applied you can put as many coats o
f lacquer (or shellac) on any project as long as you apply thin, even coats
Apply your shellac/sealer in thin, wet coats. Allow it to dry and sand betw
een every coat. This will help hide tiny imperfections, but more important
ly will provide a consistent, bondable substrate.
Second thing; fill the holes. I don't do a lot of kitchen cabinet refinish
ing anymore, but actually just finished one about a month ago. All the cab
inets were beat to hell and back, and it was only about $2K less to refinis
h the cabinets than it was to replace. But the house was going on the mark
et after rehab, so refinish it was. Your methodology on your project will
be the same as mine, so here's what I do. Sand the wood surfaces as smooth
as possible. In a rake light, mark the offending blemishes with a pencil.
Fill the holes, no matter how small with Durham's Rock Hard putty. I use
this for my utility filler for dents, pin holes, scratches, etc., when pai
nting. I use it to fill screw holes when new hardware doesn't line up (doe
s it ever...?), gashes on drawer fronts, dents from wear and tear, etc. It
goes on fast, dries quickly an sands as smooth as a baby's behind. An imp
ortant note: some surfaces are badly damaged, and the whole surface needs w
ork. Durham's to the rescue. You can (and I do!) thin the product out wel
l enough to float out whole surface of drawers, stiles, doors, cabinet side
s, etc. And it sands easily enough that it makes surface prep an easy deal
. If I have a series of dents or dings that are fairly large but not too d
eep, I "enhance" the damage by drilling an 1/8" hole in the dent to give th
e Durham's more traction. After Durham's, finish your inspection with a ra
ke light and fill anything left you missed. This is painless, on small hol
es you can sand in less than an hour, and on large screw holes and dents, y
ou can sand smooth in a couple.
This can add to your problems. When you cut through your substrate, you pr
oduce what is known as a "witness line". The witness line is unacceptable
for any manor of reasons. If you see a witness line between your coats of
shellac, your shellac didn't resolvate or bond to itself, leaving you with
a film of air between coats. If you cut through your shellac altogether, t
hat means you have an exposed edge of finish that is like an ocean wave on
the beach. One side is water (shellac), the other side is sand (raw wood).
When using finishes with aggressive solvents in them they will find these
dissimilar substrates and work to separate them. The damage caused from w
itness lines can cause bubbles, waves, or even a reflection of the actual l
ine itself. If you sand though, recoat.
You are correct. The paint from a rattle can is part of a very sophisticat
ed system, a combination of resins and carrier/solvents. The reason you ca
n recoat in such a short time is that the solvents used are extremely "hot"
, and are likely somewhere in the area of xylene or toluene. So... see my
comments on puckering, and apply to your surface. Your observations and th
e cause of what you noticed are spot on.
It is easy to get a good finish on a small project with rattle cans. But t
o get a really good finish? More trouble than it is worth. The coats of m
aterial they shoot are nozzle dependent. Additionally, as pressure winds d
own, so does your atomization of product and the amount coming from the can
. I find that to be not only the case with all prepackaged sprays, but it
also differs highly from manufacturer to manufacturer. This makes the lear
ning curve different on every single product. Even colors are thinned and
react differently; try spraying a pastel from a can, then go back to your b
lack. You eon't beleive the difference. Darker = harder to work with.
In keeping with my habit of learning things the hard way, I bought a gallon
of primer/filler from Sherwin Williams. Thinking it was simply a heavy bo
died primer, I loaded up the guns and sprayed... for about 10 minutes... th
en nothing. That stuff was meant to be applied with brush/roller only, as
it had small silicates in it about half the size of a grain of salt. Yup...
ruined the gun completely doing that, not to mention lost a day on the job
. Thankfully, SW doesn't sell it anymore locally.
Not necessarily. Remember, no amount of priming will repair the blemishes.
BUT, if it were me, I would try sanding the daylights out of your work to
get it where you want it appearance wise, fill as needed, wash with lacque
r thinner, and then apply this http://goo.gl/sBxYD3 withing 20 minutes o
f your wash. It is the Sherwin Williams equivalent of BIN in the old coppe
r top can which I can't find anymore. It really dries fast, and cleans up
easily. It is considered a hybridized primer as it has all kinds of propri
etary "stuff" from SW in it. IT WORKS.
This last job I was on was the first time I used that stuff, and I was surp
rised that a gallon of it is about the price of a quart and a half of BIN.
I can't find the old BIN formula I like (which I could spray unthinned)so I
went to my SW commercial rep and the sold me a gallon of that stuff. I co
vered a multitude of sins including previous paint remnants in the wood, ol
d finish remnants, and 35 years of other sins collected in the kitchen that
I couldn't sand off. All clean up is with mineral spirits, so it is inexp
ensive to use.
I sprayed it, but when I had to redo a drawer face I didn't get sanded out
well enough, I brushed it on with no problems.
Part of the cabinets had been "refinished" by at least one of the Marx brot
hers. No telling what they used (it wasn't urethane) but the SW product ad
hered very well. One of the cabinets had been replaced and had a white oak
front with clear lacquer on it. The pores were unfilled, so this was a pe
rfect test for me to see just how much build power the SW product had. I s
anded the drawer front smooth, then applied a fairly heavy coat. Remember,
this is a sanind sealer, but one one that can build unlike a shellac or ni
trocellulose. I waited a day, then applied another fairl heavy coat. I wa
ited one more and shot it again. Now the drawer front looked like I painte
d it flat white. It id take three days more before I couldn't scratch it w
ith my fingernail, but it sanded out beautifully with 220gr, was very hard,
and it held the paint extremely well.
With a brush that might have taken only two coats. You should know that wh
en I was spraying the primer parts of the house were dark and I got a few d
rips. They sanded out very easily with a block and paper, and weren't dete
ctible after finish coating.
You will only get a factory flawless finish when spraying, and that won't c
ome with a rattle can. HVLP can be finicky, and will REQUIRE you to learn
about thinning, pressures, air caps, etc. Too much to learn.
Were I in your situation, no doubt I would switch to "long oils" alkyds tha
t are an 8 hour dry. They are very, very forgiving, and can be applied wit
h pad or roller. i routinely use the 6 inch "weenie" rollers with the shor
t nap to apply oil based paints on surfaces and the finish is just fine. N
ot glassy, but if you are using semi gloss anyway, no one will notice. For
smaller pieces, try a foam brush for application. Not the Harbor Freight
stuff, but the kind your SW retailer sells. No kidding, if you don't overw
ork your application, a good quality oil from Sherwin Williams will lay out
to a near spray finish when you use a roller or foam brush/pad. Don't try
to use a full sized roller, or a long nap roller. Practice on a primed sc
rap and you will be amazed at your results.
Well, you have my new favorite primer. I have shot up about 4 gallons now
on various projects and it is now my "go to" primer. Just in case the link
didn't compress properly, here is the whole shooting match:
Don't be shy about going to SW. A couple of things about them for your par
ticular project. First, you can probably buy just a quart of their great a
lkyd paint for about $25. A little goes a long way, and when I brush/roll,
I thin about 10%. Don't buy the stuff in the blue quart can that is about
$6 - $8 cheaper. It sucks. Second, unlike most paint stores (certainly th
e big box guys) SW will tint your primer. Gotta like that.
Better still, for the next few days our local SW has all their paint produc
ts 30% off, which is why I am going to see my guy tomorrow to get some of t
hat very alkyd paint.
I do hope all that helps, not only you but for anyone else that might be in
Good look DO, and let us know how it turns out!
Whenever I run across that problem, I simply call Robert (Nailshooter).
In short order, three pages of detailed "how to" mysteriously shows up
in the inbox.
Measure twice, cut once (+pound to fit)
Ask Robert once, paint once...
Works every time.
Thanks to all that replied.
I haven't redone all but I tried sanding down the top rail til it was dead
smooth and then sprayed a coat (medium wet, Mike). It isn't dry but looks
pretty good. Not new car body good but plenty good enough for my face
frame. If it still looks good in a couple of days, I'll do the rest. If
need be, I'll try the talc/shellac filler, Woodchucker; I have a couple of
pounds of talk left from when I was building a dingy and needed an easy sand
thickener for epoxy.
Robert, I'm going to try the SW fast drying primer when I get to making the
other face frames. I'm thinkig it might be useful to spray a light coat of
black on it before sanding...hard to see imperfections with white but with a
color top coat, when the color is gone the white is good. Comments?
Again, thanks to everybody, lots of good info. With luck, this will be my
last foray into the land of paint. I'll be glad to get back to lacquer :)
On Tuesday, June 2, 2015 at 10:18:10 AM UTC-5, dadiOH wrote:
First, don't add another possible problem by making homemade filler/primer.
You are already in deep, so why add some folkloric remedy to the mix? Tal
c was used before the advent of microballons and is an artifact from when o
il based paints were used that would encapsulate the talc particulates comp
letely. A formula good enough for the 50s and 60s, but not so now. Today'
s finishes are designed to work with the correct counterpart components tha
t are made for specific jobs, not home remedies.
If you are determined to make some homemade filler, try this as answered by
the excellent wood finisher Michael Dresdner: http://www.woodworking.com/
What could you have done to the poplar that it is so beat up to the point o
f needing so much attention after all your careful sanding to need a heavy
duty surface filler? It seems that you did a lot of careful prep, so it is
surprising that you have this much work left to do to get a good substrate.
I am thinking at this point you are rapidly making this harder than it need
s to be. I will tell you exactly what I would do at this point if my wood
was scratched, had holes in it, dented, and anything else that could be a p
roblem. First, go to Home Depot and buy this:
Not exactly expensive. Mix it up thin, then float out your surfaces. Unle
ss your holes are large and your dents deep (say 1/4 inch) then this stuff
will not shrink, even when thinned. Think of floating out a piece of sheet
rock when doing this. Apply with a wide putty knife, and work into your de
fects. You can sand in an hour or so to a perfectly smooth finish. I do t
his using Durham's a lot. It is cheap and compatible with all finishes. I
t sands easily and at the price shown is nearly free. Easy to sand, quick
to use and easy to apply. Save your talc for another project. Likewise, d
on't use drywall mud, thinned wood glue and pumice, thinned wood glue with
sawdust, etc. Every wood finisher I know uses Durham's to float out surfac
es, fill holes (I use it to fill holes, dents, scratches, etc.) and there i
s a reason why.
You are trying to make primer do something it was never intended to do. It
is NOT a pore filler, it is NOT a filler of defects or holes, and it is NO
T a heavy build finish that you apply multiple coats to fill defects and sa
nd away the excess. The purpose of wood primer is to seal the wood, protec
t the top coat of finish against unseen underlying fouling in the surface,
and to provide a bondable substrate for the finish coat.
To be frank, I never, ever take all the steps you have put into this so far
. If my surface is in bad shape, I sand to about 180gr. I surface fill by
going over the entire surface to be painted using a thin coat of Durham's.
I sand the Durham's smooth and look for defects in a rake light, fill/san
d anything if needed and I am finished with surface prep. On goes primer,
then two coats of finish. I never try to locate all the little problems an
d damage. It simply takes too long and you never find all of them if your
wood is really dinged up. If it is sufficient for me to fill more than a l
ittle when painting, I just skim coat and sand the surface. With 100% cove
rage of filler on your surface, you have a 100% chance of success of fillin
g your defects. It is a fast, time efficient way to deal with a poor surfa
You can't get from here
by trying to take shortcuts or reinvent the wheel. Get the right products,
use them as designed, and go on your way.
If you will float out your surface you won't have to worry about rake light
s, shadow lights, different colors of primer, and on an on. If you want to
continue on that path, yes, you can apply two different colors of material
and sand off one color. Then you can see the defects, fill them one at a
time, sand them one at a time, clean, reprime, sand again, then apply your
finish. Why? You can't think for a moment I did that to that kitchen.
I believe you are now over thinking this as you are tired of screwing with
it. So... sand, fill, sand, prime, light sand, paint. I am at the point n
ow where I spray my primer carefully enough that if I don't spot any other
problems after priming, I don't even sand it.
Buy what you need and wrap this one up.
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