Applying Your Finish
You have 3 choices really.
The traditional way of applying furniture finish is of course with a brush, preferably a china bristle brush. You can produce results of the utmost and highest quality with brushes. The only drawback, I dislike cleaning brushes. Take your time and always clean a brush and then hang it up to dry.
Two choices here…
1) Aerosol Can – Can produce great results. Make sure you shake the can well and then shake it some more. Straight even passes, keep the nozzles 8 to 10 inches away from the surface. Again, always wear a respirator or mask.
2) A good compressor and spray gun – Spraying is the professional answer which well again produces great results. However you need to work indoors, somewhere with no dust. A good compressor and spray gun will cost around $250. Let’s face it if you have the ability to spray and somewhere to do it, you don’t need to be reading this.
Spray on would best with an HVLP type sprayer. The nozzle must be one for thicker materials though.
Be sure everyone in the room wears a respirator.
Not so many people know about this method, but believe me, this is the way to do it. It is easy, cheap, fast and gives just brilliant results. With next to no skill needed.
I mean if I can do it, its got to be easy.
So what do you need?
A clean cotton T shirt, fold it up into a pad to and go.
You are going to also need some abrasive paper, lots of lint-free cloth, tack-cloth, the appropriate thinners and of course the finish your choice.
Wipe on pad give good results because they can apply an even coating of finish easily and quickly. Because they are fast, they enable you to always keep a wet edge on the finish and working fast means looking good.
OK so what do we do?
The secret to getting good results with a pad is working fast. You are not going to lay down a few thick coats, but lots of thinner coats until you have built up a beautiful thick finish, so you will get plenty of practice.
Pour out a little finish into a tray or pie pan and add just enough thinners that it becomes loose and free and will flow easily off the pad when you lift it out.
The exact amount of thinner will depend upon the type, age and temperature of the finish. What you are trying to do is to add enough thinner to allow the finish to flow easily out when you apply it. If you add too much thinner then you end up with such a thin coat, that it is just not worth the effort, but if you don’t put any in, then it is much harder (and slower) to apply and quality quickly drops off
Once the finish and thinners is well mixed fill the pad with finish and put the pan alongside the furniture and get ready to work! If you are right handed, then you want to start at the right end of the work and move left (If left handed, swap around).
The coat you have applied will be quite thin, both because you thinned it and also because a pad tends to apply a thinner coat anyway. So you will need to apply a few more coats than you would if you were applying with a brush, that is the bad news, but the good news is that it should dry a bit quicker too. You want to get the next coat on as soon as possible after the first, but you are not going to be able to do that until the last one has dried and you have rubbed it down. The best way to rub down the still tender finish will be with wet and dry (about 400grit) used wet with a little dishwashing detergent in the water.
You can ‘hot coat’ like this, applying finish over just dried finish for up to about 4 coats, but once you have got a fair amount of finish on the furniture, it is best to really leave it to dry and set up before sanding with a rougher paper like a 240 grit used dry.
If you are starting on bare wood, then the first few coats will need quite a bit of sanding between coats before the grain of the wood is fully covered by the finish, you will most probably need to use something like the 240grit to get this done, but once you have got the base coats nice and flat it becomes easier to build up lots of layers in quite a short time.
A pad lays finish quickly and evenly, giving you plenty of time to keep a nice wet edge.
Is it pretty yet?
With a little luck, your finish should by now look just glorious, deep golden color and like glass. If it’s perfect then that’s most probably because you have been working is some small, dust free, central heated workshop, rather than an open garage with the wind whistling through and depositing dust or pollen in your finish.