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3 Key Tips on How to Get a Smooth Wood Finish

When it comes to the overall appearance of your finished wood product there are two primary things that you or your customer will see. One is the appearance of the finish and the other is the way your finish feels. The appearance of your finish includes factors like if the coloring is uniform and if the finish will be durable in performance these factors will depend on the finish you choose and the way you apply the finish. You can get a general overview of different wood finishes here.  In addition to the appearance of the finish the feel of your finished product matters as well. A common request is for the finish to feel smooth which is what we will be covering, how to get a smooth wood finish.

Tip 1 – Preparation is key

The first step to getting a smooth finish is ensuring your product has been prepped properly. Proper preparation will involve sanding the product and properly removing the dust. One key is to sand the end grain of the product to a finer grit up to double the top and bottom of the project. This will help the ends have a similar appearance to the rest of the project.

After you are finished sanding the next critical step will be to remove all residual dust from the product surface. To ensure the dust has been thoroughly removed you should consider using a vacuum and blow gun to initially remove all dust from the surface. A final step that can help is using a tack cloth which will help remove any residual dust that is clinging.

After properly preparing the wood for your coating you then have to consider proper steps to take when applying your finish.

Tip 2 – Important tips for Applying the Finish

When applying the finish, you should consider the environmental conditions you will be applying your finish in. Most coatings have a technical data sheet that provides recommendations on the temperature and humidity that are best suited for applying the product in. If the temperature is significantly to cool or humidity to high dry time can be prolonged which can create extra risk for the wood getting dust in the finish. Additionally, the coating may spray differently in environment with to cool or hot temperatures. If you can try to spray when the temperature and humidity are within the recommended ranges provided by the coating provider.  This will ensure the finish applies consistently and increase the likelihood of achieving a smooth finish.

While the product is drying you will want to ensure you keep the project protected from shop dust. This can be done using a paint booth that is isolated from the shop (which if a cure feature is incorporated will allow you to speed up the products dry time) or you can also create a shield for the product which it will dry underneath of.

During application you want to ensure the area you are applying the coating in is free of dust. This can require you cleaning the area diligently prior to coating and/or choosing an area to finish the product in that is isolated from dust.  Additionally, you will want to make sure your brush is free of dust when going to apply the finish.

Finally you want to ensure you do not apply to much or to little finish.  The coatings data sheet will be your ultimate guide but as a general rule you rarely will need more than 3 layers of coating on a wood project.

Tip 3 – Apply the Finish Well

Once you have a properly prepped product and a proper environment to apply the coating your final step to consider will be properly spraying the finish to achieve optimum results. First, you should consider spraying your coating as spraying will allow you to achieve the smoothest finish appearance because no brush marks will be left behind. Spraying finish can be done with aerosol cans or spray guns.  If you do frequent wood work a spray gun can be a great idea but if the project will be a one time job an aerosol spray can for the final coat can make sense.

Second, ensure the final coat is well atomized. Atomization refers to the break up of the coating when it is sprayed. The break up of a coating will be determined by the amount of air to fluid your coating has in it. The finer the particles are when sprayed the smoother your finish will appear. You can achieve better atomization through thinning the material, by using more CFM of air with your spray gun (a larger air cap), or a mixture of the two. If your brushing consider thinning the material while if your spraying consider balancing thinning with air caps to get your desired finish. You can learn more about what the finish will ideally look like here for a variety of finish qualities.

With the finish of your wood being one of the first things you or a customer sees with your wood project thinking about these tips will help you ensure you get an ideal finish.

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