zombeerose

Did I Rub Too Much?

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Hello everyone,

I have been making a jewelry box to surprise my fiance and have  been working on the finishing.  I used a couple coats of Zinsser sanding sealer followed by 3-4 wiped on coats of General Finishes Arm-R-Seal gloss.  I have left it curing for a couple weeks now (I'm in AZ so it's been hot), and started to work on rubbing it out tonight.  Disclaimer - this is my first project to "officially" rub out.  I started with a light misting of water/soap mixture and 1000g automotive sandpaper.  It started off ok by smoothing the high spots, but I'm getting areas that are much duller than the others.  I'm fearing that I'm cutting through either the Arm-R-Seal and/or the shellac.   I know that it's supposed to regain it's shine as I work back up through the grits.  

Can anyone provide advice?  Do I need to stop and reapply more Arm-R-Seal coats?  I don't want a "plastic-like" finish.  Should I keep going?  I'm not sure how to accurately tell the thickness of the finish.

The first picture is the lid, which is a glossy example "before" I started rubbing.

The second picture is after a bit of rubbing with 1000g and taking down high spots.  The color is consistent.

The third & forth are where my panic is coming from as some areas are much lighter and dull.

I can add more pictures if it would help.  Thanks in advance!

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I have zero experience at rubbing out a finish but if I wanted a non plastic look, I would lightly sand and apply a couple of coats of satin ARS. That is really neat looking wood. What is it? 

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A finish rubbed with 1000 or 2000 grit paper will be very dull. It won't regain much of a sheen until you reach much finer abrasives.

There is also a chance that the finish has not cured to full hardness. In that case, no amount of polishing will help.

The woodgrain appears to have a good deal of texture to it. If so, I think achieving the "hand-rubbed" look will be difficult to do evenly. My guess is that you will need a thicker film to start with.

@K Cooper had a good suggestion, and I second it.

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I agree that you are probably on the verge of rubbing through the finish.  No way o tell for certain from pictures but more coats of finish followed by a longer cure time would be my approach.

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@K Cooper Thanks for the suggestion.  It's leopard-wood, which is her favorite.

@wtnhighlander Thanks for the info.  I haven't had problems with the paper gumming up so I was assuming it was hardened.  As for the texture, it was pore-filled and sanded to 220.  

@wdwerker Thanks for the reply.

How many coats of ARS is normally recommended before rubbing it out?

I think I'm going to sand a bit more tonight because there are still a few glossy low spots that haven't lost their sheen.  And what's the worst that can happen now?

Thanks for the help!

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If you are shooting for a top end finish 5-7 coats isn't unreasonable. If I am planning to put a lot of time into any finish I do every step to scraps from the project. Then you can test for dryness without putting fingerprints in the actual project. You can practice sanding between coats and rubbing out on the scraps too. If you sand through on the scrap then you can practice your repair before it's needed on the project. This also gives you a finish sample with notes on how to do it again in the future.

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IIRC poly can be a bit harder to buff to a gloss sheen where as harder finishes like lacquer and shellac are better suited. They also build faster so your finish routine doesn't take weeks.

That being said you can do it with poly you just need to go to higher grits finishing with polishing compounds.

Resource.

 

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For where you are at with the project, I would consider your sanding as still 'leveling the surface'.  I would continue sanding but do it by feel - to make sure you have a nice pleasant-to-the-touch surface....don't worry about the appearance.  Then apply at least 2 more coats, sanding very lightly between.  This will refresh and even out the appearance.  For rubbing out, I would start with nothing less than 2000 grit sandpaper - or maybe not even sandpaper at all.  Fine steel wool works but it also dulls the sheen.  A brown paper bag works too.  If you want to maintain a glossy finish, less is more.

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