Here are some finishing tips I hope you find of value. They are arranged in roughly the order of the typical finishing steps.
Sand Oil Finishes Wet
It’s not at all necessary to sand wood to very fine grits with oil finishes to get very smooth results. After sanding the wood to about #180 grit, apply a wet coat of finish to the surface, then sand wet with #600 grit. Use just your hand to back the sandpaper.
This will smooth the surface even better than sanding the bare wood up to #600 grit first because the oil acts as a lubricant.
Countersinks & Chamfers
To significantly reduce the likelihood of glue squeeze-out in dowel and mortise-and-tenon joints, countersink dowel holes and mortises and chamfer the ends of dowels and tenons to create reservoirs for excess glue to collect. This takes only a few extra minutes and can save a lot of headaches caused by the squeeze-out.
Unfortunately, there’s no easy equivalent for stick-and-cope joints on cabinet doors.
When sanding in preparation for a stain or finish, you need to remove all the problems in the wood – mill marks, tear-outs, gouges, etc. – with the coarsest grit sandpaper you’re using before moving on to finer grits (to remove the coarse-grit scratches).
This means that the coarse-grit sandpaper you begin with should be coarse enough to remove the problems quickly and efficiently to reduce the amount of work required.
Suggested examples are #100 grit for wood you have machined yourself and #150 grit for factory pre-sanded veneered plywood or MDF.
Articles: You’ll find many free finishing articles on our web site.
In Our Store: “Flexner on Finishing” – 12 years of columns illustrated with beautiful full-color images and updated, and “Wood Finishing 101.”
From the November 2015 issue