I think most non-woodworkers, and maybe even some woodworkers themselves, underestimate the finishing process. I once heard you should spend as much time finishing a piece as you do building it. When I started out, this seemed preposterous. I might spend weeks building something, and now I'm supposed to spend several more weeks just to finish it. Well, yeah, actually.
Finishing is the time during which you good piece becomes a great piece. It's also when you have to slow down and really pay attention. There are countless ways to finish a piece - and I'm not going into them here (this blog aint long enough nor am I experienced enough). But, here's a bit on how I'm currently finishing projects.
- Thoroughly sand everything - for me that's up to 320 (I know, some say more, some say less, this is just what I'm doing right now).
- Apply a heavy coat of danish oil - wait 30 mins - wiping on.
- Apply another coat of danish oil - wait 15 mins - wiping on.
- Wipe off any excess oil - check over the next hour or two that no oil is weeping out.
- Let the oil cure for at least 3 days, more if possible.
- Apply a coat of wipe on poly. Let dry 4 hours (maybe longer, depending on weather).
- Maybe buff the piece with some 000 finishing pad - if it seems to need it, remove all dust.
- Apply another coat of poly - wait another 4 hours.
- Assess the piece and see if it needs another topcoat layer. If so ...
- Buff the piece with some 000 finishing pad - remove all dust
- Apply another coat of poly
- Let the piece fully dry, several days.
- Apply a few coats of paste wax, buffing until the look good.
So, now you can see that finishing can take just as long, if not longer, than the building. But trust me, the results are worth it. My finishing regimen is still fairly simple - it just means waiting a while between activities. In the future I imagine I'll try more advanced techniques, but for now this is working.
Now, it's off to do another top coat!