What did I do wrong?


Slightlyoutofsquare
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Hi All: 

new to wood working. When I say new I mean new. At any rate, I decided to build a base cabinet for the wood shop that I’ve decided to convert my garage to as I go about this journey. I have always been fascinated with building but never allowed since I was the girl in the family. Now that I’m done with school and pretty stable in my career I have time for hobbies other than my current ones.

At any rate I’ve been learning mostly from books and online and a Makers Space. So back to the cabinet. I have a question about some finishing issues... was I really supposed to go through a whole can (quart) and only have two coats on? 

I used shellac. I was finishing maple. The main wood was ply with maple veneer and the top was edged in a chunk of rock maple. Total cabinet dimensions are 61 inches long 20 deep. I didn’t do the back or inside. I lightly sanded using 120 mostly because I had some tear out I had to fill and fix. I used acetone to wipe the dust off and then sprayed the finished from about 6-8 inches vertical then horizontal on each face. I let it dry for about an hour and came back and noticed that there was a white fuzz all over the darn thing. 

Im guessing this was the rag I cleaned the dust off with and didn’t realize I was leaving this behind. Kinda surprised because these rags don’t leave anything behind when I stain with them. I sanded lightly with 220 and it seemed to at least knock this down and I started to spray again and managed only the top and the front and then ran out of shellac on the sides.

Did I perhaps have the gun set incorrectly amongst other things? I was using an Earlex 5500 and it was my first time using Shellac or a HPLV or paint gun lol I’m having a total blast with this stuff but hard to learn since I don’t know anyone who does it so I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong but a whole can gone seemed odd. Also the finish that was on just didn’t feel quite smooth. When I first sprayed it, it looked like a touch of orange peel but then seemed to settle out. But after the second coat it is still kind of ... well not Silky smooth. Any constructive help would be appreciated for sure! 

 

Thanks! 

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That's a fairly large cabinet so, it's going to take some finish!

If the coats didn't look too heavy or create any runs on the vertical surfaces then, I'd say you did pretty well.  You can dial back that amount of material at the gun but, the piece is going to take what it takes.

As for how it feels, I typically block sand with 400 between coats mostly just to knock off the dust nibs but, this helps make the finish nice and smooth.

Welcome to the forums and good luck!

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Welcome. I'll 2nd kev, that is a pretty large cabinet and will take a fair amount of finish if you did both inside and out. The speed you gain while spray comes at the cost of using more finish.  Some of the finish doesn't make it to the project but the big thing I've noticed is you'll tend to put down thicker coats.

Shellac dries fast, like SUPER fast.You have options with shellac you could try and spray a diluted cut, which wild give the finish more leveling time. It's also possible to sand it back and polish it. So if you lay down some good layers you can sand the surface smooth and then work up through grits to like 2,000 or even higher to get what ever sheen you'd like.  I have some 2,000 grit festool platin pads that i use on my ROS. I turn the speed down to 2 of 6 and finish any touched surface with them. They are a such a fine grit they tend to need lubrication so i used some mineral oil and mineral spirits but with shellac you might need to try something different.

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Welcome.   I hope that i am not telling you something that you already know but shellacis not a very durable finish. The good news is that you can put almost anything on top of shellac so that , If you find that you want to, you can use something like a wiping varnish on top of it.  ONe of the "go to" finishes  for a  lot of people is Arm-R-Seal by General Finishes.   Above all, have fun with your journey.

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Hey Guys!

 

First, thank you so much for actually taking time out to respond and help! I've taken some photos of the cabinet but I don't think you will be able to see what I'm talking about as I was only able to take the pic with my phone. Let's also pretend like we don't see the glaring grain error on the drawers. I'm learning a ton! I love this cabinet and hate it at the same time mainly because I actually built it but all the errors drive me nuts. At any rate: 

Not sure if you can see some of the fuzzy's i was talking about that got caught in the finish. They on on the side panel. Pretty sure it was from the wiping rag I used and I didn't even stop to think that acetone would mess with the shellac so... another lesson learned there. I'm on a roll! :)

There are like these small patches of rough spots that occur throughout the front and sides of the finish. Oddly not the top. I'm wondering if I just didn't get good coverage. You can kind of see the lighter corner in the second pic towards to the corner. Thats where it gets rough. 

Well I learned alot from building this that I wont go into here because I know this is about the finishing but knowing where I'm at know does anyone have any suggestions on getting a durable coverage from a not so good start? I've read somewhere that I may be okay with the Shellac down as the first coat then can go over again with something else. I think Ronn mentioned a wiping Varnish. Any opinions? Should I do a light sanding and blow it off (learned my lesson on Acetone lol ) then apply the Varnish? 

With a Varnish do I dilute it and apply several coats of thin material or lay it on thick out of the gates? 

Thanks again for all of your help. I truly appreciate it and sorry for the sucky pictures i know they were less than informative. 

Lark 

 

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On 9/17/2018 at 4:01 AM, ..Kev said:

That's a fairly large cabinet so, it's going to take some finish!

If the coats didn't look too heavy or create any runs on the vertical surfaces then, I'd say you did pretty well.  You can dial back that amount of material at the gun but, the piece is going to take what it takes.

As for how it feels, I typically block sand with 400 between coats mostly just to knock off the dust nibs but, this helps make the finish nice and smooth.

Welcome to the forums and good luck!

I took a good look around the cabinet and didn't notice any runs and now that I look back on some of the other items I stained they were quite a bit smaller so that's likely why i was shocked that I used the full can on one project. Duh me. Size matters. lol Can I ask... when you get a sheet of veneered ply at a home center, in this case the maple is this "ready to go" for finish or do you still have to prep it a bit? I was confused about this part. I knew there was absolute potential I could burn through the veneer if I wasn't careful but I was scratching my head with... well how do I remove the pencil marks and little scuffs here and there so they don't come through the finish?  Would I have needed to lightly sand prior to laying down a coat? 

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On 9/17/2018 at 5:09 AM, Chestnut said:

Welcome. I'll 2nd kev, that is a pretty large cabinet and will take a fair amount of finish if you did both inside and out. The speed you gain while spray comes at the cost of using more finish.  Some of the finish doesn't make it to the project but the big thing I've noticed is you'll tend to put down thicker coats.

Shellac dries fast, like SUPER fast.You have options with shellac you could try and spray a diluted cut, which wild give the finish more leveling time. It's also possible to sand it back and polish it. So if you lay down some good layers you can sand the surface smooth and then work up through grits to like 2,000 or even higher to get what ever sheen you'd like.  I have some 2,000 grit festool platin pads that i use on my ROS. I turn the speed down to 2 of 6 and finish any touched surface with them. They are a such a fine grit they tend to need lubrication so i used some mineral oil and mineral spirits but with shellac you might need to try something different.

I will say that I enjoyed the speed so much that I don't mind the consumption. I've stained a few things here and there and hadn't been a fan of the time it took but I liked the spray gun. I think once I get familiar with what I'm actually doing it's gonna pay off having one. How do I know when to cut a finishing material and with what other material I should cut it? Are there hard and fast rules or is this something that eventually becomes a personal preference for the person doing the finishing? Thanks for your feedback! 

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4 minutes ago, ..Kev said:

Still requires a super light sanding but, you have to be careful with the stuff from the big box store because the veneer is so thin.  It's not very often that I used this stuff but, I usually hit it quick with some 400 and move on. 

Hmmmm...  I don't think I realized there was a difference in the sheet goods. I knew there was in the hardwoods so I was getting that from the hardwood dealer here. I see they have a ton of sheet goods there as well. Would getting this type of ply from a dealer help with the tear out? I had terrible tear out despite a new saw blade. Used some wood filler but you can see it clear as day in the finish. What I really do love about this is just how many things you end up learning from building something as utilitarian as a cabinet but its a total blast while you do it... even after you end up cussing a whole heck of a lot lol When you guys started did you find that you were "Naturals" at woodworking or that you had to really appreciate some struggle. lol 

10 hours ago, Chet said:

This is an excellent book to help you get going on spraying finishes.  It comes with a DVD which I would recommend watching first.

Spray Finish Made Easy by Jeff Jewitt

Welcome to the forums and looking forward to your future projects.

Will absolutely check this out! Thanks for the resource! 

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4 hours ago, Slightlyoutofsquare said:

Hmmmm...  I don't think I realized there was a difference in the sheet goods. I knew there was in the hardwoods so I was getting that from the hardwood dealer here. I see they have a ton of sheet goods there as well. Would getting this type of ply from a dealer help with the tear out? I had terrible tear out despite a new saw blade. Used some wood filler but you can see it clear as day in the finish. What I really do love about this is just how many things you end up learning from building something as utilitarian as a cabinet but its a total blast while you do it... even after you end up cussing a whole heck of a lot lol When you guys started did you find that you were "Naturals" at woodworking or that you had to really appreciate some struggle. lol 

Take a look that the thickness of the top veneer, total number of plays, and voids and pockets.  Compare what your hardwood dealer has to the big box store stuff.

Tear out is pretty common with ply.  Make sure your blade is sharp and has a high tooth count for best results.  Applying blue painters tape to be cut line before cutting can help as well.

When I started, I was anything but a natural!  Many of my early projects ended up doing a way better job of keeping me warm by the fire!    

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33 minutes ago, ..Kev said:

When I started, I was anything but a natural!  Many of my early projects ended up doing a way better job of keeping me warm by the fire! 

+1

I don't think I am a natural but I am a better woodworker then when I started, having said that, I am still quite capable of creating a lot of firewood. :)

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Another thing to watch out for is Asian import plywood. Very thin face veneers , voids and  a tendency to cup. Domestic( USA ) and European ( Baltic & Russian ) have thicker faces and better quality cores.  The sweet taste of low prices doesn't last after the reality of poor quality.  Good quality sheet goods will always cost more than the import stuff.

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@Slightlyoutofsquare given your interest you might find Bob Flexner's book "Understanding Wood Finishing" worth having around.  It's an easy read and good reference.  Explains how different surface coatings work.  

You've found yourself in a really great hobby.  From what your saying I can see you're just as much a natural as any of us.

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