When brushing a large surface such as a tabletop, you want each brush stroke to go from one end to the other with the grain. If the brush can’t hold enough finish to go the entire distance, brush several partial strokes, then connect them with a long end-to-end stroke. Lay the bristles down just short of the edge so you don’t drag it over the edge and cause runs.
Then move on to the next series of brush strokes, brushing back into the previous full-length stroke so you don’t leave any “holidays,” which are missed areas.
You may ask why I would write instructions for something so obvious. Apparently, it’s not obvious to everyone.
Years ago a brush salesman from a major company, with decades of experience in the paintbrush field, came by my shop to test out some brushes. We each took a panel and began brushing different varnishes. I looked over and he was brushing a couple of feet in from one end and all the way across the width of the panel. Then he started brushing the next couple of feet, of course leaving a noticeable buildup of overlapped finish where the brush strokes on the second section overlapped the first.
We got that straighten out right away.
But in another situation, I had no impact on a major manufacturer’s television ad showing brushing the same way (you can probably guess the company). Their response, when I complained, was that their written literature showed how to brush correctly.
I would imagine that the manufacturer hired an ad company to make the ad, and no one was present who knew anything about how to brush a finish. Showing brushing all the way across the panel, just a few feet in from one end, probably fit into the frame of the camera better, so that’s how they did it.
But why didn’t someone at the manufacturing company realize that a very bad message was being sent to millions and pull the ad? I can only speculate.
You can see a gallery of the proper brushing technique with explanations below.