Wood Project Finishing Steps

Someone recently asked me how I finish my woodworking projects.  I wrote down the steps to share with all!  This isn’t the best process for every piece, but it works for an awful lot of them.

1) Sand your piece.  A lot.  No, more than that.  Sand it
again.  Down to at least 220 by hand, or even finer with a random orbit sander
(I have a DeWalt one that was like $80 at Home Depot).
2) Dust off your piece with the compressor’s air gun – blow
open all the pores.
3) Move your piece to a dust-free area. (This is key – my friend tried to finish her piece while her husband was using the router 10′ away).
4) Go over the surface with a tack cloth to remove any
remaining dust.
5) Apply a coat of Seal-A-Cell to seal the grain, or a
stain if you are staining.  If it’s pourous wood like pine or poplar, then apply
a pre-stain-conditioner first.  Apply with an old white t-shirt or sock.  The
chemicals can leach the colors out of colored rags.
6) Let dry fully (read product directions for
7) Sand surface lightly with synthetic steel wool pads to
knock the shine off and add some tooth to the finish, so the next layer will
8) Apply 2-3 coats of Arm-R-Seal Topcoat, letting dry
completely and sanding lightly with the artificial wool pads between each coat.
What I do is put the rag into a zip-lock between coats so I don’t have to use a
new rag every time.  Obviously, don’t mix rags between
9) If you want a gloss finish in the end, do the first 2-3
coats with satin (since it sands easier) and only the final coat with
Good luck!

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