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Wet Sanding

wood finishing

by Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher



When a silky smooth finish is what you are after, wet sanding is definitely the key to success. Achieving that flawless surface is what we all desire on our projects after all of the hard work and effort. Here are a few tips to help along the way to a flawless finish.

1. Be sure enough finish has been applied so as not to sand through the surface of the finish.

2. For a varnish finish, apply at least three coats on soft woods, two to three on hard woods.

3. Shellac, at least three coats on soft woods, two to three on hardwoods.

4. Lacquer, after one coat of lacquer sanding sealer apply at least four to five coats since lacquers have less solids than shellac or varnish.

5. Wet sanding requires using a lubricant to keep the paper wet and sharp. I use mineral spirits or water with dish detergent.

6. It is imperative to keep the paper wet at all times or the paper will dull as soon as the surface is touched.

7. Start with 3M 800 Imperial Wet or Dry using a sanding block with a felt backing. Start by gently sanding in a circular motion making sure to keep the paper/surface wet. Feel the surface from time to time to check for smoothness. Sand any remaining trash imbedded in the surface out.

8. After drying the surface and inspecting for any remaining trash, change to 3M 1200 Wet or Dry and repeat. After a thorough drying, inspect the surface again and if all looks and feels smooth and you haven't sanded through the finish, you are ready to "finish the finish" or, rub the finish out using any method of your choice.



Visiting Atlanta? Attend one of Alan's upcoming highly informative Highland Woodworking wood finishing seminars:


Finishing the Finish, Feb. 22, 2012

French Polish Workshop, March 7, 2012

Antiques Show and Tell, March 10, 2012

Finishing the Finish, March 21, 2012

Visit Highland Woodworking's Online
Wood Finishing Supplies Department




Alan can be reached directly via email c/o Alan Noel Furniture Refinishing at anoelfurniturere@bellsouth.net.


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