The first thing required in any wood working project is the quality of the surface preparation and takes the most time and work if done right.
See links at the bottom. (editor)
That’s where I start.
- On live edges I remove the bark/cambium layer with scrapers or chisels after wetting the area lightly (after the thick bark is removed). I then do the sanding with flopp wheels or just use loose sand paper with my fingers. You do not have to remove all of the cambium layer. Use your artistic opinion to judge the amount to leave.
- On the flat surfaces I use the R/O sander (Festool) with 80 or 50, 100, 120, 150, 180, 220 and 320 and sometimes 400 grit papers. Wipe every surface with a good tack cloth.
- I often make trials on cut off pieces of wood with various oils to see which one suites me. Watco sells oils in several colors and types and is readily available. Lately, I have been using their Teak oil. Another product, Bush oil has the best “pop” for the grain, most of the time, but not always. Follow the directions on the can. The directions are the same for both products. Try them both to see which one you like. With the Bush oil just be sure you have good ventilation.
- Wait 30 minutes after the first coat of the oil then apply a 2nd coat in the same manner. After 15 min. wipe dry all the wood. For the Bush oil it is actually ready for use after 14-16 hours depending on what you use the piece for but of course I mostly put on wipe on poly or another finish. Mr Bush himself stops here most of the time.
- For a more durable finish I use Minwax Wipe On satin poly (or you can use lacquer, etc.) applied after a min. of 72 hours for both the Minwax and the Bush oil depending on the temperature. For the money, ready availability and ease of use I use the Minwax most of the time. Apply 3 to 4 coats with a rag and I can often get about 2 to 3 hours between coats again depending on the climate and shop temp. Scuff lightly with 220 grit sand paper between coats and use the tack cloth again to pick up any dust. Therefore, in one day I can put on all my finish. That is the big advantage of the Minwax poly IMHO. Plus of course no brush marks to deal with or spray guns to clean.
- Wait 3 to 4 days or longer for the finish to dry. I then start the rub out which is the difference between high quality work and average work.
- I put 50/50 percent mineral oil and mineral spirts in a small spray bottle. I then lightly spray it on the finished wood. Then I start with a Abralon disc 1000 grit on my R/O sander. DO NOT RUB THRU THE FINISH OR YOU WILL HAVE TO START OVER. Next go to a 1500 grit disc and watch for any shinny spots. I then finish with a 2000 grit pad to get a satin finish. You might need to keep spraying on the lubricant from time to time when checking your progress. Do not let the surface get dry. If you want a gloss finish use a 4000 grit pad to finish the procedure. You might wipe off the lubricate from time to time to check your progress. Finally, I thoroughly wipe off all the lubricant.
- As an alternate the machine rub out is to use 4 ought steel wool with either a dollop of Wool Lube or wax for smaller projects or non flat surfaces like the live edges. Always rub with the grain. Buff the surfaces with a clean rag or use a buffer after the wax is rubbed off.
- Finally, comes the Renaissance wax. This is good because you do not have to wait before rubbing off or buffing All the above can be done before or after assembly-which ever is easier. I mostly do the procedure before assembly.
- Most of this procedure is based on classes I attended at the Center for Furniture Craftsman ship in Maine taught buy Teri Masaschi. Her book “Foolproof Wood Finishing” is the best on the subject IMO.
Abralon – Reference, Amazon
Bush Premium Finishing Oil – Reference, Purchase
Festool Random Orbital (RO) Sander – Reference, Amazon
Minwax Poly – Guide to Clear Finishes, Amazon, and your local hardware outlet.
Renaissance Wax – Wikipedia, Amazon
Teri Masaschi, July 2014, paperback, Foolproof Wood Finishing – Amazon
(Rustomleum) Watco brand – Reference, Amazon, and your local hardware outlet.