View Full Version : Wood finishing steps?


Budsreef
09-20-2007, 8:55 AM
I am planning on building and finishing a tank stand and just bought an unfinished cabinette for my wife to practice on. Anyone have a good step by step process they follow with specifics on sandpaper grit, how many sandings, application of stain, and application of polyurethane?

Dakota9
09-20-2007, 10:07 AM
I'll leave a step by step guide to other more qualified members, but I have a couple of suggestions. Regular stain is some of the messiest stuff you can work with, and getting a uniform color with it is sometimes difficult. Try a product called Danish Wood Oil, as it gives a beautiful finish and covers evenly. Gel Stains are also great for the doityourself'er, as you can achieve a darker finish in fewer coats, and again, far less messy than regular stains.
I stripped all the trim in my -100 yo house, I used Danish wood oil on the trim and floors, and gel stain on just about everything else. I've used regular stain too on other projects, but the results wernt as nice.

George
09-20-2007, 11:28 AM
Stain is best applied with a sponge (or one of those sponge-brushes) and light pressure. Polyurethane is tough to get a smooth coat with. The only technique I am familiar with is the pouring method which is really only good for flat surfaces.

Seedless Reefer
09-20-2007, 7:43 PM
Hmm stain is good applied witha sponge but best is actually an opinion thing it can be applied very well using a foam or bristle brush or a rag.

What I like about sponges though is the amount of material you can apply before dipping it again.

There are several good products on the market but I prefer Minwax.

They have a one step stain/sealer that I did some cabinets with and the results were nice.

I recently did the handrails in my house using the minwax water based. The tones are more subdued.

Any stain that you buy will call out the sand paper grit and when to use it.

You will use 2 to three different grits at different times. Never use anything but sandpaper! Steel wool is a huge no no.

Big D
09-20-2007, 8:08 PM
Hmmm... steel wool a no no...

Well, I used this paper on mine, it's by far the best I've ever used, I use it on all my wood projects...


Link (http://www.nortonconsumer.com/Data/Element/Node/ProductLine/product_line_edit.asp?ele_ch_id=L00000000000000025 53)<<---


I used 180 before putting on the stain (minwax), used 2 coats of stain, then sanded most of the stain back off using 180 to get the rustic look. Then sanded the whole thing using 320 again and put on the poly (minwax also). I used 3 coats of poly, sanding between each coat with the 320 and then finished with very fine steel wool to get a glossy mirror finish.

If you go with a water based stain, make sure you use a water based poly and vis-versa for oil based. Oh yeah, I used foam brushes to put mine on.



David

Seedless Reefer
09-20-2007, 9:13 PM
Hmmmm. Well I can honestly say that I have never tried to use steel wool on stain. Just always heard or thought it was a huge no no but really what do I know know.

Seedless Reefer
09-20-2007, 9:17 PM
Read the directions on my can of Minwax...

It says in bold DO NOT USE STEEL WOOL but that is under initial preparation.
Does not say anything about using it on the finish coats hmmmm

Dakota9
09-20-2007, 9:42 PM
Steel wool between coats of poly is GREAT! Gives a very smooth finish!

Linda Lee
09-20-2007, 10:36 PM
I am planning on building and finishing a tank stand and just bought an unfinished cabinette for my wife to practice on. Anyone have a good step by step process

Step 1: Call BigD to see if he'll do it for you.

Step 2: Beg.

Dakota
09-20-2007, 11:42 PM
To get a really smooth finish you'll need to raise the grain before you stain.
Completely optional and a total pain in the neck.

Sand the finish as smooth as you can with your finest grit paper.

Dampen a sponge with RO water and moisten the surface with it.
The softer part of the wood will absorb the water and swell. Wait a few minutes and resand lightly. Repeat until the surface stays smooth.

This will keep the grain from forming ridges in the finished surface.

Budsreef
09-24-2007, 10:24 AM
Thanks for all the inputs. I'll be trying some of them this week on the cabinette.

Gwhiz
09-25-2007, 7:12 PM
The type of wood will dictate some of the finishing steps. What type of wood do you plan on building the stand from? Is it the same wood as the cabinet? What color do you plan to stain it?

Some of the above answers are a bit misleading or incomplete. For example, steel wool is a no-no if you're using a water based stain or poly (it causes rust spots), but perfectly acceptable with an oil based stain and poly. Same thing with grain raising--it's important with a waterbased stain, but not with oil based.

Some woods tend to blotch when stained, so they'll need to be finished a bit differently and it could affect the sanding schedule.

Give us a bit more detail and we'll point you in the right direction (I'm much more experienced at making sawdust than I am at keeping reefs--as evidenced from the almost finished stand and the empty ('cept for water) tank!)

Budsreef
09-26-2007, 10:12 AM
The cabinete is unfinished oak and I was going to use minwax "Provincial" which is the same color as my kitchen cabinetes. For the stand I was going to finish it in oak and use the same stuff however it is going to be in the family room and just about everything in there is black so I keep going back and forth between finishing it in oak and stain, or pine and black paint.

Did you build that whole wall or just the stand? It looks great from the picture.


The type of wood will dictate some of the finishing steps. What type of wood do you plan on building the stand from? Is it the same wood as the cabinet? What color do you plan to stain it?

Some of the above answers are a bit misleading or incomplete. For example, steel wool is a no-no if you're using a water based stain or poly (it causes rust spots), but perfectly acceptable with an oil based stain and poly. Same thing with grain raising--it's important with a waterbased stain, but not with oil based.

Some woods tend to blotch when stained, so they'll need to be finished a bit differently and it could affect the sanding schedule.

Give us a bit more detail and we'll point you in the right direction (I'm much more experienced at making sawdust than I am at keeping reefs--as evidenced from the almost finished stand and the empty ('cept for water) tank!)

Gwhiz
09-26-2007, 1:59 PM
Oak doesn't have a blotching problem so it's pretty straight forward. Also, because it's an open pored wood it's pretty forgiving of sanding mistakes, etc.

If you're using Minwax, you'd need to sand to 180 or 220 grit -- probably 100 grit-150 grit-and then finish with 180. Personally I'd stain it (I usually use painters rags or old t-shirts to wipe the stain on and off) and follow with 3 coats of Poly, sanding lightly with 320 grit between coats. About two weeks after the last coat I'd rub it down with 0000 steel wool and wax to smooth out the finish and get rid of any dust nibs, leaving a satin finish.

If you decide to go with pine and paint--just use a good coat (or two) of primer and you should be good to go. I'd have the primer tinted dark so the black paint will cover it more easily. (Or you could go with ebony stain on the oak!)

As for my basement--it was studs and concrete when I started. I did all the woodwork--(it's cherry), walls, floors, electrical, plumbing, etc. I'm working on the upper doors for the stand now--it'll be finished this weekend.:yay: Then it'll be time to start cycling the tank!

Budsreef
09-26-2007, 2:22 PM
Thanks for the advise I will follow that for the cabinete. I still have time to decide on the tank stand since the tank isn't even here yet and I won't start till I have it on hand for the exact measurements.

Budsreef
09-26-2007, 5:55 PM
BTW, Geehh, do you have any design plans for your stand? Looking for ideas for mine.

Gwhiz
09-26-2007, 6:51 PM
No real plans. I did mock it up in Google Sketchup -- so I've exported a couple of views below.

It's constructed of 2x4's and 3/4" plywood with solid wood trim. Since mine's a bowfront aquarium, it's a little more complex to deal with the curved front. Each door opening is covered with double doors so I have plenty of access.

One change I made is that I replaced the single center vertical support with two equally spaced ones since my tank has a center overflow and the centered supports and joists would have been in the way of the plumbing.

In my case the aquarium actually sits in front of a closet--there's a two foot deep fish room---(fish closet!?) behind the aquarium with a sink, etc. so I have access from both front and back.


-George

Budsreef
09-26-2007, 6:58 PM
Looks good! Thanks!

Xyzpdq0121
09-26-2007, 8:44 PM
Hey George, want to come help me stain my new stand? LOL, seriously!!! ;)

I am dreading doing the stain this weekend or next. It has to get done but I have never stained anything and god only knows I do not want to mess this up.

My stand and canopy are made out of oak cabnet grade plywood. I plan on taking it to a cherry color using stain. How many coats of stain should be enough? What are the advantages/disadvantages to going with a oil based stain over a water based? You sand between coats of stain and poly but what are some of the "sanding mistakes" that you eluded to above? Is it alright to use a belt sander for this project? Is there any real difference between the brands of stain?

Thanks in advance for all the answers! ;)

Gwhiz
09-27-2007, 10:04 AM
A belt sander....hmmmm that would be one of the sanding mistakes!:confused2: I wouldn't. I use a random orbital sander for the base sanding and then hand sand with 180 or 220. If you don't have access to an orbital sander, I'd stick with sandpaper and elbow grease!

The most common sanding mistakes are to sand across the grain, and to not remove all the scratches before moving on to the next grit.

One or two coats of stain should do it--each coat will make the stain a bit richer and darker. I don't sand after staining, but do between coats of Poly to make sure they stick to each other. But sand lightly--you're just trying to scuff up the poly so the next coat can bite---you don't want to sand through the poly and certainly don't want to sand through the stain!

Remember to remove the dust after each sanding with a tack rag, air compressor, or vacuum.

As for oil vs. water borne poly, it's really a toss up. Waterborne poly dries faster--you can get all the finishing done in a day--dries clear, doesn't smell, and cleans up with water... but because it dries fast it doesn't level out as much.

Oil based poly has a yellow tint--which can look good or bad depending on the wood-- and is a bit tougher when dry.

I used oil based poly in the basement--primarily because it includes a bar and oil based is somewhat more resistant to alcohol--I'd recommend the waterborne stuff. As for brands, I've used a number of them and really don't notice much difference.

Finishing isn't tough it's just messy. Sand well with the grain. Just follow the directions on the cans. Don't let the stain dry on the wood--apply it in small sections and wipe it off before it can dry. And apply the poly in THIN coats. The most likely problem is getting runs or drips in the finish!

Good luck!:thumbs: