wood finishing – a new technique

Posted by jerry on September 26th, 2004 — Posted in Woodwork

I read about a great finishing technique in Fine Woodworking magazine – it involved treating the varnish as though it were French polish. Now I’ve never been really great at applying smooth finishes – I usually wind up rushing things and putting on too thick a layer of polyurathane varnish and then trying to sand back runs and making a general mess of things.

This week a friend came over bearing an unfinished wooden box, and asking very very nicely if I could just make a small lid insert and slap on a coat of varnish. Obviously she had never seen any of my finished work or she might have looked elsewhere.

I did have some 3mm MDF for the insert and was able to cut it accurately but the finish was the daunting part. Now, I have in the past been able to get a slight french accent on my polish, if not actually achieve the essence of french polish.

Enter Fine Woodworking… the box was assembled, but as yet had no hinges or catches – a good thing – but it was just in roughly dressed timber and still had quite a rough surface. So I set to work with 300 grit sandpaper on my triton orbital sanding attachment, and gave all six surfaces a bit of a going over, then went to a couple of finer grades up to 1500 grit until the surface felt like talc. Then making sure all my brushes were locked away, I cut up some chux superwipes into thirds and folded them over to make a pad, and using a small amount of Wattyl Estapol Gloss I rubbed the gloss varnish into the timber as though it were shellac dissolved in spirit – and voila! one of the best smoothest finishes I have achieved so far!
Wooden box

I reckon the box should be finished and assembled by about Wednesday – more then!

Addendum: And here is the completed box
Completed box

The embroidery is by Annie Whitsed


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