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Missing Barns and Telling Yarns
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Question for all my experienced builders out there. How do you get such a nice glossy finish on your frames? What kind of sandpaper are you using? What do you finish it with? I've done some woodworking projects before, but I've never known how to get such a nice, smooth as glass, glossy look. So spill the beans and give me your secrets!
 
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I sand down to 400 grit. Between grits, I wet the fork, let dry and remove the resulting fuzz on the next one. Repeat. After the 400, I buff like crazy with #0000 steel wool and check for sanding marks that I did not see before. Next I apply a coat of Tru-Oil and let dry then buff off with the wool. That is when you will usually find more sanding marks.Fix those and apply the T-O again, Buff off again, that will seal the grain, remove the dust and apply THIN coats of T-O. As they dry check for smoothness and lightly buff if needed. When I am done coating, I let it cure for a couple of days then buff with brown paper from grocery bags. This reads more complicated than it is to do and I think my finishes come out rather well.
 

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I sand down to 400 grit. Between grits, I wet the fork, let dry and remove the resulting fuzz on the next one. Repeat. After the 400, I buff like crazy with #0000 steel wool and check for sanding marks that I did not see before. Next I apply a coat of Tru-Oil and let dry then buff off with the wool. That is when you will usually find more sanding marks.Fix those and apply the T-O again, Buff off again, that will seal the grain, remove the dust and apply THIN coats of T-O. As they dry check for smoothness and lightly buff if needed. When I am done coating, I let it cure for a couple of days then buff with brown paper from grocery bags. This reads more complicated than it is to do and I think my finishes come out rather well.
The only thing I do differently is after wet sanding I apply a coat of mineral oil mixed with lemon or cirtus oil to check for marks.

Then I polish with 0000 steel wool and wipe down... the the Tru-oil.
 

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Sanding properly is a key issue, and one that many of us do not really seem to like... :cursin:

I use 320 grit sandpaper right at the end, use a vacuum to suck off the dust, check carefully that everything is perfect, sandpaper anything that still needs it, vacuum the slingshot again, and then apply 3 layers of water-based wood sealant (which contains polyurethane and other goodies) at 12-hour intervals:

In my understanding, the first generously applied layer seals the "pores" and "raises the wood grain", which makes the surface feel fairly rough after drying: more sanding with 320 grit paper until it's smooth again prior to applying the 2nd layer, and the same process prior to applying the 3rd and final layer.

The huge advantage of water-based wood sealants is the absence of strong smells commonly linked to oil-based sealants, and the fact that the former hardens the wood surface against scratches and dents very efficiently. The key issue with water-based wood sealants is to stir them very well prior to use, because all the "goodies" tend to settle at the bottom of the tin. Moreover, its advisable to paint the wood fairly swiftly, as it starts drying quite quickly i.e. touch-dry after 15 minutes or so: working fast also avoids paint brush marks.

It's also a good idea to place water-based wood sealant inside a glass jam jar or something similar, as it keeps for a very long time without evaporation (some of mine is 4 years old, still going strong). When it gets a bit viscous, one can add a bit of tap water to make it usable again (10%, I believe). I have found it to work extremely well with birch plywood and beech wood. albeit that one should not expect the top notch finish of premium antiquity furniture

(that said, it's all about learning the right methods, I guess).
 

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Mojave Mo
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'Satan's Snot' that is what I call it. All of these tips are hot as snot. However, I saved a horrific first attempt by watching a YouTube SimpleShot Video on how to manage a c.a. finish. Good luck to you sir!

Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk
 

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Here is my method for applying CA glue. I purchased some CA with the brand name "Starbond". High performance super glue. Premium cyanoacrylate. I use the thin. Also, this brand tends to give me a smoother result than Satellite brand CA glue which means less sanding.

CA does have some brittleness, but there is no finish that doesn't suffer from being dropped on concrete or hard rough surfaces. I have found the best way I can come up with to apply the ca.

I have one of the empty 4 oz ca containers cut in half lengthwise, laid down and tilted.

I pour a good bit in the down side end and with nitrile gloves on dip the flat part of a finger tip (more or less finger surface depending on the amount of surface it is applied to) into the glue and spread it down the edge of the slingshot. As much of the edge as reachable so as not put the holding hand finger(s) into the wet glue.

NOTE; At any point in the application process any surface that is dry that more glue can be applied can be addressed since with CA coating seams or lap marks don't really occur, just build.

For the flat surface, typically I dip my finger tip and start on the outer edge of the fork moving back and forth or up and down heading towards the fork yoke. I try not to go back into the applied finish, just let it lay heavy, unless there is an obvious need to like a very big glob collecting on the edge. It is all about build up and sanding off. Then the other fork to the yoke. I like to pull a bit down the waist toward the handle as I go. Flip do the other side of the forks. Repeat and repeat and repeat until good build up. Once the forks are dry to handle do similar to the handle

Sanding CA; The padded sandpaper is awesome I bought the Norton, "Soft touch" sanding pads. I don't wear through like I did with paperbacked sand paper. The progression of grits as labeled on the soft touch sanding pads, 320/400, 500/600, 800/1000 1200/1500 then rough and buffing wheel. I like to lay a whole pad on a flat surface and rub the flat part of the SS on the 320/400 to begin flattening the surface. Then with a smaller piece (I cut a whole into 6 pieces) that is cut from a whole piece do the edges in grit sequence according to what grit is needed.

Once I get get through the 1200/1500 grit I use rouge on a buffing wheel to give it the high gloss.
 

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I am gonna assume you are talking about wood because you mentioned woodworking projects? Finishing synthetics is a different kettle of fish. Anyway, as a novice researching this topic what I have learned is that it isn't so much about what you put on but how you do it. It's more method than material. Each finish has its own pros and cons and everyone has their favourite method.

Because, you mentioned "smooth as glass", I would take that as a reference to a surface film type of finish that builds-up to a hard coating. Penetrating oil finishes topped with wax are lovely too if you enjoy the natural wood feel - don't give up on that!

Anyway, back to your question. I think of it basically as a 3-part process: surface preparation; surface refinement during finish build-up; and, final polishing/buffing to achieve that glassy gloss. The glassy look can only be properly achieved if the surface is perfectly flat. Any pores or scratches or unevenness will show up as reflective bumps and are the enemy of that glossy glass look. Getting there starts with good surface preparation.

Part one, surface preparation is basically sanding, and sanding is basically progressively working with finer grits to remove the previous scratches left behind by the rougher grits. This process is all dry. Everyone has their favourite paper or method but with wood I would go with garnet. I can never remember the grits but it is basically progressively sanding to a stage of burnishing. That's when you look at the piece and think that it looks like a piece of smooth sculpted stone. Prior to the final pass, it is good to wipe down once with a damp cloth to "raise the grain". The piece will get rough and bumpy once dry. Here, I would run over the piece lightly once more with the same grit last used before the final pass to burnish. To burnish, I typically like to use the white 3M pads (the ones that look like kitchen scotchbrite pads but are white). Burnishing can be described as microscopically crushing the fibres on the surface and when a piece is burnished, it looks almost already finished without anything applied. When I examine the piece under an angled light and it looks good to me - I don't see any scratches, gouges, high or low spots - I'll take a deep breath and plunge into surface refinement with application of a finish.

Part two or "surface refinement" is how I like to think of application of the finish because it isn't just the finish being laid on but a (patience required) process of progressively refining the surface as the layers are being built-up. You first need to decide how you want to deal with the pores. You can fill it with a pore filler and sand back down or you can fill it progressively with wet sanding slurry (mix of the finish and sanding dust) as you lay on the layers of finish by wet sanding it on. I use a hand applied wiping lacquer to achieve the glossy look but you may also opt for a spray-on lacquer application. Danish Oil, Formby's Tung Oil and Tru Oil are all penetrating oils mixed with a lacquer that can yield beautiful results as they accentuate wood grain. Or just use a plain lacquer (with no penetrating oils). Another glossy option is to use a "french polish" method (I don't know how to do that).

One popular method of slingshot builders (and pen makers) is to use CA glue and there are many masters of that here. I don't do because I hate the smell and how CA handles. CA does however have one advantage because it fills up pores very well. That stuff likes to run into any nooks and crannies and pool there. Anyway, you are basically applying the layers of finish so it adheres with the previous and progressively, painstakingly, perfecting the surface as you lay on each layer by sanding down to remove any nibs and dust hardening on the surface; even out between the in-pore and top surface buildup; and, knock down high spots to achieve an even, perfectly flat layer coating on the piece. As you build-up, each layer will take less work to flatten. When you are happy with the built-up finish (and you don't want too much on top or it starts to looks goofy and plasticky) then it's time to move on to part three, final polishing.

I would add one caveat here - if you are using a lacquer, you need to patiently wait a minimum of 3 days or the better recommended 1 week for it to cure completely before you do the final polishing.

Part three, final polishing is where you can decide whether you want a high gloss or a satin finish. It's just a function of how fine you do the final polishing to achieve either. Satin is easier and can be done with 0000 steel wool or 1500 wet/dry paper lubricated with some wax or soapy liquid (a few squirts of windex in a glass of water seems to be the favourite) or lubricated with some fret board lemon oil (this stuff is used for guitars but I like using it for my projects probably because i just like how it smells). For glossy, wet sand the surface lightly with 2000 wet/dry paper (lubricated with one of the methods as mentioned above in this paragraph), then polish with a cutting/polishing compound (the stuff used for cars will do). Take care not to polish through the corners and edges where the finish will be thin. And finally, buff with a paste wax and if you have done everything right, you should have a shiny glassy surface.

There are many method tricks, in-between steps, combinations and additional care to work clean but what I have described above should be the basic process we can't really deviate from. The little tricks in between are what would separate the masters from novices like me. I am no expert and am learning here from everyone else. I learn something with each project and having the knowledge of how it's done isn't really know-how till the crafting skill are picked up through hands-on application and experimentation... have to just do it...

Oh, there is one more option I should mention though that stuff is not cheap and that is - resin. Resin can be poured over the surface then left to cure after bubbles have been removed. You'll get a hard glassy surface once you polish and buff. Advantage of resin is that no further maintenance is required after. I have never used it and would like to try it some day.

This is an addicting hobby for me and I am always restlessly thinking about how to make each attempt better than the last...
 

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Missing Barns and Telling Yarns
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Whoah guys, I really appreciate the feedback. I'll be honest, I had no idea there was so much that went in to it. So I've got a little natty frame (wood unknown) that I was gonna try this on. I've currently sanded to 400 grit, but I can still see fine scratch marks when I hold it up to the light (perhaps I was too rough with the 100grit?). So it sounds like I need to stick with the 400 or drop down to the 320 to work out those scratches, and get a nice smooth surface. Then wet it to raise the grain, and sand again.

I've got some tung oil, so I'm gonna try that out. From what I'm reading it's just a matter of applying to fill in pores, waiting to dry, sanding and repeating.

Then I'll buff that bad boy and watch it gleam! Or dip the whole thing in truck bed liner if I butcher it. We'll see.

Thanks for the tips gents. I'll get busy and post some pics here or in a new post when I get results of some sort!
 

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Missing Barns and Telling Yarns
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Flipgun: I've done that on my last couple frames. Probably didn't have the high gloss, but I also wasn't totally satisfied with the look. It was really easy though, and a great way to seal the wood.
 
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