Rubbing Out A High Gloss Finish

One of the biggest challenges woodworkers face is getting a nice smooth blemish-free finish. Bottom line is you’re buffing the topcoat, not the material under it. So if the latex paint provides a nice flat surface with no visible pores or grain lines, you can simply topcoat it with your finish of choice and proceed with this process. French polishing is a finishing method of applying many thin coats of shellac using a rubbing pad, yielding a very fine glossy finish. Be careful of sanding too much on the edges as it is easy to sand through to bare wood. Replace the rubbing-compound pad on the machine with a foam polishing-compound pad, and buff the entire area with very fine compound or swirl mark eliminator.

Whichever finish you use, let it cure to the point where you can’t smell any remaining solvent when you press your nose against the finish. The transfer of heat from the iron to the wood will cause compressed fibres in the dent to recover their original dimensions. After the 80 grit, move on to sanding all the wood again with 100 grit which gets rid of the scratches left by the 80 grit then sand all again with 150 grit to remove scratches left by the 100 grit. As I mentioned earlier, one may use rubbing and polishing compounds along with a buffing machine.

You may brush cross-grain or any way you choose to get the varnish onto the wood and once it is completely wet, shift to quickly brushing out the varnish WITH THE GRAIN so it will flow out smoothly. As a general rule, if the finish is very old (75 years or more), dark and alcohol melts it away, it’s probably shellac. I strongly suggest waiting as long as you can, especially if you are in a high humidity environment and you have applied more than 3 coats of finish. Primarily used in the final finish (colouring) of gold and silver, it is the finest of all rouges. However, it is difficult to completely eliminate large defects from wood surfaces.

The towline approach to automating wood finishing uses mobile carts that are propelled by conveyors mounted in or on the floor. Wipe away the rubbing slurry frequently to check your progress, and stop as soon as you have a consistent satin sheen. If you have an open-pored wood or one with deep grain lines, you should definitely do a pore-filling process.

Restor-A-Shine contains extremely fine micro polishing powders, blended together with select waxes and oils, producing a very unique wood finish polishing compound. To sum it up, your very best bet to make your floors shine is to acquire a cleaner produced by hardwood flooring manufacturers or floor finish companies. Rubbing with steel wool improves the appearance and feel of a finish, but it doesn’t remove flaws such as brush marks, orange peel or dust nibs. Level II, Step 2 Liquid Polishing Compound chemically cleans and polishes while removing Step 1 compound scratches and swirl marks.

Special note on Shellac: I have routinely used Zinsser pre-mixed wax-free Seal Coat as both a sanding sealer and as a barrier coat between mystery finish and my final coats of water-based finish, and have never had a problem. This approach is useful for moving large, awkward shaped wood products that are difficult or impossible to lift or hang overhead, such as four-legged wood furniture. Rubbing out is nothing more than abrading the surface until it’s nice and smooth.


Manufacturers who mass-produce products implement automated flatline finish systems. Work a single piece of wood or a single unit such as a door at one time so you can be thorough and maintain control. With some practice and experimentation, you should be able to match the color of the bleached old wood with the color of the new wood. When rubbing to a high gloss it’s critical that you keep everything as clean as possible. We too had a beautiful water stain and some white marks from a table cloth that had been ironed directly on our teak dining room table.

For buffing compound don’t use soft jewelers rouge, use steel polishing compound like Zam, Fabuluster, Dico Stainless etc. When the sandpaper scratches are gone, use a soft cloth to remove any of the relatively coarse compound. If you are working on an assembled unit such as a door, pick a piece of wood at the top, varnish it completely, stroke it out with the grain then move on to the next attached piece of wood and follow the same procedure. The popular colored waxes are applied directly to wood or used over a very thin shellac sealer to produce a very mellow and natural appearance. Either there is no finish or the moisture got through the finish and to the wood.

Also, not sure whether I should be wetsanding to make it smooth before applying the compound. A. Regarding removing water stains on TEAK WOOD furniture, as well as putting moisture back into the wood. Should I lightly sand the wood with a high grit (i.e. 1000,1500, or 2000 grit) prior to applying the first coats of lacquer, or should I simple ignore the slight fuzziness and apply the lacquer without sanding. Do not polish in one place for too long, though, as this will heat up and melt the polyurethane finish. Often, a final coat of wax is applied over the finish to add a degree of protection.

Yes, they were difficult and expensive to produce as well but the buying public’s inability and/or unwillingness to keep sanding and varnishing the wood always held sales down-especially after the steel bodied wagons appeared! In fact, some people will apply two or three coats of finish without sanding between coats except maybe to remove dust nibs. I saw a picture of a paint finish that was sanded up to 5,000 grit using 3M Trizact sanding disks.

Further sanding with finer sandpaper on hardwood becomes an exercise in futility and can actually smooth the wood so much that it has no ‘tooth’ to hold the finish! When you brush or roll the stuff you get bubbles, craters and foaming, anything but a smooth finish. Also, you can use a clear wood filler as a generic option that should work in all woods.

Polyurethanes are very clear, some even have a slightly cold or blue cast to them which I find unsightly on wood. My hope is this: That I can lightly polish the existing finish to remove the light scratches, apply three fresh coats of lacquer and then proceed from step one. Liquid wood finishes are applied via automated spray guns in an enclosed environment or spray cabin. To determine if a finish is shellac or varnish, sprinkle a few drops of denatured alcohol on the wood.

To seal the wood before top coating, thin your oil-based polyurethane to one part mineral spirits and two parts polyurethane (first, gently stir the contents in the can). Another way that has worked for me is to wet sand another piece of the same type wood (walnut, whatever); wipe up the sludge and transfer it to the area to be filled. But I’m unsure of whether to use rubbing compound or polishing compound on my clear coat to achieve a smooth and glass-like finish. High tech manufacturing make this the top choice for cutting back (use 00), or rubbing out the final finish (use 0000). I already have rubbing compound for all the times I run my car door into my mailbox.

When I’m done I have a finish that feels perfectly smooth to the touch but doesn’t look it. Clean wood furniture with a good dusting first and follow the cleaning instructions on the Homax package. As all woodie owners have experienced, varnish deteriorates under sun, rain and abrasion resulting in cracking, splitting and peeling of the finish, leaving the wood unprotected. Felt-tip touch-up markers come in a variety of wood tones to match common furniture finishes.