Craft wood: how to get it smooth to varnish/paint?

linnea56May 3, 2006

I'm not sure this is the right forum for this question.

I have bought a number of wooden boxes, kleenex boxes, etc., from Michael's and Hobby Lobby over the last few months. They are all made of some kind of soft white wood that has very little visible grain or knots (not pine). I also got some unfinished wood things from Ikea that have the same problem. I find it impossible to get a smooth finish on these, whether painting or staining/varnishing. Little bumps from the wood always seem to rise up and make the surface rough no matter how many layers of paint or varnish I put on. I have tried sanding first: just seems to make the surface rougher even if using 400. For all the wood dust that's coming up, more is appearing on the surface. Sanding after, between coats of paint, varnish, it's still impossible to get the surface totally sleek the way I can when varnishing a "better" wood like oak. I have no problem with other woods: why these?

The last one I did I used 2 coats of stain, then 2 coats of Polyurethane. Then lightly sanded. I could not remove all the bumps without going down to the layer of stain and ruining that. So 2 more coats of poly, sand again. Still could not get it smooth. 2 more, sand again...I finally gave up after more than 6 coats. I have the same problem with paint on this kind of wood, whether spray, latex, or acrylic craft paint.

What's the secret with these?

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I have been painting for many years and have found that putting one coat of stain or paint raises the grain on most wood. Then you can sand with a fine grade sandpaper and then apply second coat of paint or stain and finish decorating your project. Always finish with a sealer.

Hope this works for you.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2006 at 11:34PM
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Ditto what aggiewife said. I didn't get why they said you were to sand and then re-stain with a second coat for the longest time! I tried it once and found out what a difference it made and now it's what I do all the time! LOL

    Bookmark   May 5, 2006 at 8:48AM
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I have painted for more than 25 years and love painting on wood services. The wood you purchase at Michael's sounds like a very lightweight balsa wood. It is very difficult to get it entirely smooth. As a painter I learned many years ago to use brown paper bag to sand. Try sanding and tacking prior to painting. If using acrylic, try mixing your basecoat with sealer first (Jo Sonja has a great all purpose sealer). Then use a piece of brown paper bag to sand. It does work.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2006 at 3:22PM
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Sand-seal-Sand is what I was taught. And the brown paper bag is a great sander!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 8:18PM
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Make sure you wipe off the dust too, tack cloth it! I tap (knock it!) on the table to make sure it's all off too.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2006 at 12:20PM
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Steel wool will give you a nice smooth finish. Use it between each coat of paint/varnish.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2006 at 9:22PM
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You might try a sanding sealer, before you paint and seal your project.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to Apply a Sanding Sealer

    Bookmark   June 21, 2006 at 7:36PM
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    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 6:21PM
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