Finishing Tips for Newbies

While I'm far from anything more than a novice when it comes to finishing, I thought it might be a good idea with all the new people coming to the forums to get together a good list of finishing tips.

These can be things that you did wrong and have a fix for or even just tidbits of information you learned along the way.

I've learned a lot over the last year and just thought it might be good to give those that haven't made my mistakes the insight to avoid them.

1)  Wipe on finishes are your friend.   If you like the look of the finished product, keep on using them.

2)  In conjunction with #1, buy lint free cloths by the truck load, if you can.   These are as important to my finishes as my wood glue is to my builds.

3)  No matter what races through your head while you're at the store, don't buy the $2 synthetic brush at the store, if you're wanting a nice finish.   No matter how you justify it, you won't be happy.

4)  In conjunction with #3, it's okay to spend $20+ on a good brush.   This is the way we learn good brush cleaning techniques too.

5)  Yes, the can says 72 hours before putting a top coat on it and we think it's a long time too.   But it's worth the wait.

6)  Steel wool is your friend.   Rub out those finishes in between every coat if the product allows.

7)  Nope, one coat isn't enough.

8)  It's understandable to see the final product and feel jittery waiting for it to dry/cure.   But do you really want to ruin a finish that could last decades to get it in use 2 days earlier?

9)  Always, always, ALWAYS test on a scrap piece first... always.

10)  Yes, we get the Kamikaze flies too.   When these guys decide to attempt to ruin your finish, remember tip #6.

11)  When the finish doesn't come out the way you wanted it to, you didn't mess up... you made a prototype.   Now get back in that shop and make the real one!

12)  Poly bad, Waterlox Original is good.

"I have to agree with 12 and I've found Waterlox is as easy to use as a wipe on poly."

At a Waterlox page, click "How To Buy" in heading for additional help.

"I'm a newbie at finishing but I think a good book on the subject is a good way to help ease the process.   I just bought "Taunton's Complete Illustrated Guide to Finishing by jeff jewitt".

I find it's a good reference for different types of finishes and finishing techniques.   There is also good information about surface preparation, brushes and spray equipment.

The book also covers repairs and fixing finishing errors. (That alone, to me, was worth the asking price )

I don't know If professionals or people with years of finishing experience would find The book very usefull, but for a newbie like me its got a lot of very interesting and most importantly usefull information."

lea25... Alain

"And dont forget about safety issues.   Like when you are done with the rag that you just used to wipe on some old based finish.   Dont just ball it up and throw it in the garbage.   It could pose a fire hazard.   Many folks recommend wetting the rag a bit and then spreading it out on the cement shop floor or outside to let it dry.   I'm sure others can chime in with better advice, but as a newbie, this is one pointer I didnt know about that I'm thankful I've read more than once on this site."

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