Highland Woodworking Wood News Online, No. 181, September 2020 Welcome to Highland Woodworking - Fine Tools & Education Learn more about Highland Woodworking View our current woodworking classes and seminars Woodworking articles and solutions Subscribe to Wood News
Finishing: Flattening Agent Mistakes and Remedies
By Alan Noel
Professional Wood Finisher

While finishing a very large dining room table I was ready to apply another coat of gloss lacquer to build the finish. I had wet sanded the entire top and pushed the table into the finishing room making sure the top had been thoroughly sanded once again and was ready for another coat of gloss lacquer.

When building up a finish it's always best to build with gloss finish for overall clarity because building with semi or satin material would cause the finish to become cloudy just after the second or third coat. I picked up my spray gun and began to apply another coat when something didn't seem to look right. I stopped spraying and asked the guys if anyone had used my spray gun and sure enough one of the guys had used satin lacquer and didn't remix the gloss for me. I now had a big problem...what to do?

After expressing my thoughts and calming down I thought I would have to start over. Just for the heck of it a while later I wet sanded an area of about a square foot and the clarity reappeared...so... what happened?

I realized when I wet sanded the satin material I leveled the flattening agent (the flattening agent migrates to the top of the surface) in the coat of satin and all of the clarity was able to come back. I let the table sit until the next day and broke out the buffer to see how it looked. I was so relieved to see the finish was absolutely clear again.

Next, I wet sanded the area that was sprayed, making sure to sand the surface very evenly and applied another coat of gloss lacquer. All clear! Someone's job was saved and I learned a valuable lesson. This is also the reason why when you rub a small area of a satin finish and it creates a "bright spot" you have actually rubbed the flattening agent smooth and reflective, which in turn makes the spot become VERY visible and "stare" right at you.

Click here to visit the Highland Woodworking Finishing Department

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

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