Suggestions on finishing wood
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JMT

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I just received my LP racks from Gothic Cabinets. I ordered them in natural birch and want to finish them myself. Can any woodcrafters out there give my some advice as to the proper way to stain and finish natural birch?
 
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Edwood

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What kind of finish do you want? Glass like shine? Satin finish?

Can you disassemble the cabinet?

How much sanding do you feel like doing? (is the wood in that cabinet totally unfinished?) You'll need various grades of sandpaper, depending on the finish level you want. Also, you'll need tack cloth and 0000 (four "O") Steel Wool. 00000 (five "O") if you can find it.

Do you have any power tools like palm sanders? (or do you feel like having an excuse to buy some?
)

Tung Oil is my favorite finish, but it takes forever.

My favorite polyuerethane based finish is Bartley Gel finishes. They are really easy to work with, and dry pretty fast (especially in California).

If you have a Rockler Woodworking store near you, they have nearly everything you'll need.

-Ed
 
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tom hankins

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I have finished some birch before and my favorite has been using a clear polyuerethane. This piece really became special as time went by. It darkend a little and the grain came through even nicer than it was already.
Have fun!
 
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JMT

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Edwood
What kind of finish do you want? Glass like shine? Satin finish?


I would prefer a nice shine.
Quote:


Can you disassemble the cabinet?


No, all of the parts are nailed except the dividers.
Quote:


How much sanding do you feel like doing? (is the wood in that cabinet totally unfinished?) You'll need various grades of sandpaper, depending on the finish level you want. Also, you'll need tack cloth and 0000 (four "O") Steel Wool. 00000 (five "O") if you can find it.

Do you have any power tools like palm sanders? (or do you feel like having an excuse to buy some?
)


The wood seems very smooth to my touch. I will do some sanding if that will help.
Quote:

Originally Posted by tom hankins
I have finished some birch before and my favorite has been using a clear polyuerethane.


Tom, did you use a regular paint brush to apply the polyurethane or a foam type brush? I am concerned about leaving brushmarks. Also, how many coats did you apply?
 
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spaceman

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If you want the natural birch look, forget the stain. Sand the unit lightly if needed with 220 grit, then wipe clean with denatured alcohol. Apply your first coat of poly (I prefer MinWax with a poly foam brush), let dry, and wipe buff gently with extra-fine steel wool. Apply 1-2 more coats. I learned this from my dad, and have done it for years. He spent a number of years working for Sherwin-Williams Paints, so he knows his finishing techniques. If you do decide on a stain, go with a light one so as not to cover up that nice birch grain. Good luck.
 
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Genetic

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Quote:

Originally Posted by JMT

1) I will do some sanding if that will help.
2) Tom, did you use a regular paint brush to apply the polyurethane or a foam type brush? I am concerned about leaving brushmarks. Also, how many coats did you apply?



Sorry JMT a almost miss your thread...

1) Go easy on the sanding since it's only veneer thick...
2) Use foam. Two coats are usually enough.

Have fun

Amicalement

P.S. I suppose that you'll try some «colour» prior to use the polyurethane. I dont know what will be the final shade of colour and neither you... So a basic tip since the cabinet cant be disassemble: try first at the back...
 
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mbriant

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To get a really super-smooth, glass-like finish, you'll need to lightly fine-grit sand/steel wool and tack cloth between each coat of polyuerethane. Use a sanding block when possible. The more coats the closer to a piano finish you'll get.
 
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rickcr42

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bottom line is the prep work

if you choose to stain the wood birch yakes a nice even finish-the minwax stains are ideal

the top coat/clear coat can only be applied once the stain is fully dry (if staining) and the first coat will riase the grain of the wood.

so after the first coat knock down the raised grain with #120 sandpaper or a foam sanding block.Keep the paper/bloch parallel with the wood and avoid using a heavy hand.

use a tack cloth to clean the surface of sanding residue

If using a satin finish polyurethane add another coat ,sand with #220 once dry and use the tack cloth again then add a final coat .

If going to gloss or high gloss it is very important to work in a totally dust free area and make no moves that disturb the air or even dust particles invisible to the naked eye will settle on any horizontal surfaces and these tiny particles will look like driveway gravel against the gloss !

that means telling the family not to open the door to your work area on pain of death and moving the family pets outside for a couple of days
 
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pigmode

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I can and have done professional level brush applied finishes, with zero traces of brushmarks.

Those cabs are going to be VERY difficult to do a professional finish in Polyurethene or Varnish. I do not recommend it unless you take the time to learn to do it right. The best brush for those finishes is a high quality badger hair brush, which must be cared for properly between coats.

As long as the environment is relatively dust free it will do. That is not your most important concern, because you will sand between coats and rub out the final coat.

The coats must be even and thin, and corners and edges are HELL, and must be handled delicately. Globs or build-ups in those areas will not fully cure below the surface.

Each coat must be absolutely FULLY cured before sanding between coats, and all brushmarks must be 80% removed before proceeding to the next coat. That could mean 1 to 2 days between coats--5 to 6 coats total. Use a cork sanding block, 220 grit for the first couple of coats, and 320 thereafter. Garnet paper is the most forgiving. Take care not to over sand corners and edges.

There is a technique that you must develop in spreading the finish over a given surface. You have a given amount of time to wet out the surface and spread it out evenly, after which the finish will flatten out, and brush strokes will thereby be minimized. Just one stroke past that point and you are screwed, as the finish will have begun to tack and will not flatten out--the result will be hideous tacky brushmarks.

You initally spread the finish holding the brush at a slightly shallow angle, and the final stokes (longer) are held a bit higher and will help even out and flatten the coat. The last step is refered to as tipping off. You must work fast and accurately.

Sanding: It is critical that you do not sand past the coat you are sanding to the coat below it. Using gloss finish, you can create your own satin finish by using the finest grade of steel wool to rub out the final coat, or work through three grades of Meguiars for a glassy gloss finish. Rubbing out is extremely labor intensive.

If you want a beautiful finish (your interpretation and mine, might differ here) I recommend an oil/varnish finish, that is applied with a rag. I can explain it if you want, and give you the best ingredients and mixtures. It is the easiest of all professional finishes if done correctly, and there is no sanding involved and the finish can end up absolutely suberb if done with care. Its the one I recommend.
 
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JMT

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Quote:

Originally Posted by pigmode
If you want a beautiful finish (your interpretation and mine, might differ here) I recommend an oil/varnish finish, that is applied with a rag. I can explain it if you want, and give you the best ingredients and mixtures.


Wow, I didn't realize that finishing these things would be so involved. I would like as nice a finish as I can manage, but understand too that I am not a woodworker and that it is unlikely that I will get a "professional" finish with my limited woodworking skills and environment.

Pig, I would appreciate your explanation. Thank you.
 
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wallijonn

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I usually find that I must go one or two shades lighter than I want if I am to get a finish that I would really like. Try some scrap wood and finish all the way, even if you have to put 6 coats of polyu on it.
 
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