Thick or thin, you won't have much success filling grain with film
finishes. You need to learn about grain fillers if you want to have a
piano smooth finish. Semantics really. You did get a really glossy
finish but you wanted a very flat (physically flat not visually)
Get some expert advice from the master. Look at the bottom of the
Right, so my local store seems to have something like the "natural
paste wood filler" described there (called "natural grain filler") and
indeed it is an opaque light (pine) colour, which is very visible when
I try it on this wood. I've not yet found a source for anything like
the "transparent grain filler" described there. What is "sanding
sealer"? Will it do what I want?
I won't claim to be an expert, but I've done quite a bit of varnish and
lacquer on my sailboat.
For that smooth as bone china look, you have to fill the wood grain.
What I do is apply 3 or 4 coats, then sand the finish smooth - or as
smooth as it can get at that stage.
Let the finish dry really well between cycles.
Try not to sand all the way back to the wood surface.
Repeat until satisfied with the finish, or bored to tears.
On Tue, 27 Sep 2011 13:41:01 -0700 (PDT), Phil Endecott
Any and all of the above. Lacquer is usually used on the flat, fully
sanded wood for an impeccable gloss finish.
Varnish is thicker and usually hides grain plus providing a fairly
glossy surface. It would be your easiest, 1-step finish.
Oil finishes leave the grain, which is why I like and use them almost
exclusively. You can still feel the wood. Waterlox (my fave finish)
can be brushed on heavily, but you lose the tactile feel, the "hand"
of the wood, when the finish is built up like that. I hand rub 3-7
coats of that onto my projects using the satin, and I usually wax it
with 0000 steel wool to flatten it a bit more. YMMV. The grain is
still visible and feelable on a hand-rubbed piece.
To continue using your lacquer for the glossy finish, yes, try a
sanding sealer. Find a compatible finish. It will build up and flatten
the surface for a glossy surface free of divots. Spray the sealer,
let dry, sand. Repeat until the surface is completely smooth. Then
lacquer it for the seemless gloss.
Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Enough to get into trouble.
I've found this page, which seems to be comprehensive:
S3 makes GOOD stuff.
Have used at least 10,000 lbs of the stuff.
Epoxy contains NO UV inhibitors, thus you need to top coat it with an
outdoor poly. (Epifanes is the gold standard).
Before venturing down this road, make sure the investment of time and
money is worth it.
Why didn't you just go to Lowes/Home Depot/Ace and buy a can?
With lacquer, you don't necessarily want "thin", you want "even". Once
laquer dries, the remaining material is very thin; when I brush on lacquer,
I put on as much as possible without having it run off the edges; that not
only gives me a thicker coat once dry but lets the lacquer "flow" (even
Lacquer may eat oil; that is, cause it to reticulate.
You won't likely find tung oil in a local store. What you will find are
"tung oil finishes". Those are mostly BLO with a dollap of tung. Maybe a
dollap of varnish too. The manufacturers put out a world of misinformation
about finshes, all claiming superiority and/or proprietary miracles. The
fact is, there isn't a RCH difference among them...they all start with the
same palette of available materials.
BLO and tung are both useful but they are different; BLO will ultimately
become quite dark; how dark depends upon how much was absorbed and/or
trapped in the wood pores. By "quite dark" I mean almost black, albeit a
reddish one. If you want to see how dark, look at a can that has some
accumulated on it over a few months from pouring.
Another difference is that BLO will support the growth of mold better than
tung. IMO, YMMV
Yes. If it has dried for at least a week and has no odor, sand until there
is no shiny spot anywhere then respray 2-3 medium coats. Those too may
require sanding...what you want - a flawless, glossy surface - is very hard
to accomplish without rubbing out the final surface with ever finer
The dimples are from the grain in the wood. A magnified cross section of a
piece of wood would look like the basin & range area in Nevada...there would
be towering peaks and deep valleys. For a piece of wood to have a flawless
finish, the valleys have to be filled up. You can fill them with paste wood
filler, sanding sealer or the top coat material itself.
The first two are just small, solid, more or less clear particles with a bit
of something to stick the particles together after the something dries. The
particles can be most anything that fits the criteria of what you need; for
clear, pumice or other fine silica is usual. The "something" to stick them
together can be lacquer (nitro/vinyl/acrylic), varnish
(phenolic/alkyd/poly/Damar/etc), shellac, BLO, etc...anything that will sand
easily and be compatible with the final top coat. You could even use
starch - drying type drywall compound is nothing more than very fine calcium
carbonate (same as limestone) and starch.
The reason to use the either of the first two is time: being largely solid
particles, they will fill up the valleys faster than a plain top coat. In
order to get a totally smooth top coat surface the underlying surface has to
be perfectly smooth to begin with. Or be made so.
The reason things need to be totally dry is this: when you fill up the
valleys, they contain much more material than what covers the mountain tops;
consequently, they take much longer to dry. If you sand before they are,
they will continue to dry and you'll wind up with valleys again; however,
they will be less deep than they originally were.
If you had a way to spray laquer thinner, I would suggest you spray your
piece with it and immediately place it in a small, closed box to retard
drying. Once dry, it should be considerably improved and require less
sanding before the final coats. You could do something similar by spraying
a heavy, wet coat of lacquer but that would be less effective.
None of those stores exist in the country where I live.
Often I find it quicker (and maybe cheaper) to order something online
and have it arrive the next day rather than visiting the two or three
local stores, but this time was an exception.
Thanks for all the suggestions.
As I mentioned before I have got some "natural" grain filler, and this
seems to have done its job; I'm going to try spraying some lacquer
over that later. But it's not acceptable for the real item because of
its colour, so I'll need to find a transparent alternative.
The grain on your sample was pretty extreme.
I ran into the same kind of thing with 20 year old wood in my boat.
The grain had raised quite a bit.
My solution was just layer after layer of varnish.
Let it dry hard after 4 or so layers then sand it out a bit more.
I use clear varnish only for buildup coats, and a final couple of coats
I think it came out pretty nice!
In another post, you say you want a clear finish. There are two basic
types of clear finishes; penetrants and surface finishes. Penetrants,
such as tung oil and boiled linseed oil, do like the name suggests,
penetrate down into the grain of the wood. This will enhance end
grain (and darken it), as well as enhancing medulary and ray grain.
To see what the piece would look like, you can wet the surface with
mineral spirits or water (water may raise the grain). If you like
this appearance, use a penetrating oil. Surface finishes don't
penetrate the surface as much (they will go in a short distance,
depending upon the porosity of the wood). The advantage is that they
seal the surface, and can provide a hard protective finish. Examples
are poly and lacquer. Since you're using black walnut, I would
probably start with a tung oil (I like Formby's). Apply enough so
that the surface is really wet, wait five minutes, then rub off the
excess. I would apply two or three coats. I would follow up with a
spray-on poly. Poly has the advantage of being easy to use, but has
the disadvantage of sometimes looking too "plastic": lacquer is a
little harder to get right, but provides a good hard surface. *This
is important* - you need to let the final coat of tung oil cure for at
least a week before applying another finish. If you don't, the poly
(or whatever follow-on) will not lay down smoothly and will blotch.
Depending on the top coat you use, you may be able to re-spray in an
hour or so, so you could do the top coat(s) all in one day. Good
luck, let us know what you did, and how it turns out!
I wish I'd seen your post sooner. I think I understand what you
want, and I do it fairly often on various woods. I use multiple coats
of lacquer--sometimes ten or twelve. I use a traditional method that
doesn't use a sealer or filler, but requires sanding between at least
every two or three coats.The sanding is to level the surface by
removing the higher spots. Don't worry about getting it perfectly
flat on the first sanding or two--there will still be some grain
telegraphing through. By the time you are on the last two or three
coats, the surface should be flat with no evidence of grain texture.
Be very careful when sanding near edges or corners as it is easy to
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