Applying Finishes to the Wood

This story includes tips for applying all finishes and tips specific to stain, penetrating oil, clear surface finishes and paint.

Applying Finishes

Apply stain with either a brush or a cloth, always in the direction of the grain. It may look muddy at first; that's why you wipe it off with a cloth before it dries. The remaining pigment soaks into the wood pores, giving it color. If it's too light, repeat the steps. For a lighter color, limit a stain's penetration by first sealing the wood with a prepared wood conditioner.

When you apply any clear finish to wood, start at one edge of the piece and work in the direction of the grain. Smooth any ridges and pools in the finish with cross-grain strokes while it's still wet. Finishes such as shellac and water-base varnish dry quickly, so you have to work quickly.

For greater visual appeal and durability, apply several coats of clear finish, rubbing with #0000 steel wool or very fine abrasive between each coat.

Stain: Step 1

Mix stain thoroughly before using. With either a brush or lint-free cloth, apply it in the direction of the grain. Overlap your strokes slightly so you don't miss any spots.

Stain: Step 2

Before the stain begins to dry, wipe the entire wood surface to remove excess. This also forces the stain's pigment into the grain, enhancing contrast.

Penetrating Oil: Step 1

When using any type of penetrating oil finish, pour a liberal amount onto the wood, then spread it around with a lint-free cloth. For large areas, apply finish to a section at a time.

Penetrating Oil: Step 2

Let the oil soak in for about 10 minutes (read label directions). Wipe to remove excess oil. Allow the finish to dry 24 hours before applying a second coat. Reapply until the wood will not absorb any more oil.

Penetrating Oil: Step 3

For a satiny-smooth oil finish, rub the dry surface between coats with extra-fine (#0000) steel wool. Wipe off the entire surface after rubbing. When the oil has cured, apply paste wax for protection.

Clear Surface Finish: Step 1

Stir, don't shake, the polyurethane. For the smoothest application, use a disposable foam brush and work across the grain to fill the pores.

Clear Surface Finish: Step 2

For the second coat, brush with the grain so any ridges of finish won't be as visible. To avoid runs, don't load the brush when working near edges.

Clear Surface Finish: Step 3

When the finish has thoroughly dried, go over it with #0000 steel wool or fine (320-grit) sandpaper. Repeat between coats.

Clear Surface Finish: Step 4

Small flaws such as nicks and nail holes can be filled with a tinted filler stick of matching color after the finish has dried.

Paint: Step 1

A first coat of sanding sealer, then a second of primer helps ensure a smooth final coat. Sand it lightly with fine abrasive.

Paint: Step 2

Fill any defects, even tiny flaws, with patching compound or wood filler.

Paint: Step 3

After filling, go over the entire project with a finish sander and extra-fine abrasive. Grain direction doesn't matter.

Paint: Step 4

Thoroughly clean off the sanding dust with a vacuum or tack cloth. Stir paint, then brush on evenly along the grain.

Comments (1)
trangphongsang wrote:

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