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Old 07-15-2007, 04:42 PM   #1
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Finishing Cabinets -- Wow. Need advice!


Hey Guys,

My wife and I are building a house that probably should have been done by now. We've had weather delays, all the usual, and a new baby. At least we're getting close now. We chose to "try" to finish the cabinets and paint the place ourselves. I know, it's a job that sounds easy that really isn't and we found that out last night!

We have about 130LF of custom knotty alder cabinets. We're using Sherwin Williams bright cherry stain and Minwax semi-gloss poly. I started by doing one of the bathroom head knockers in case I screwed it up. I applied the stain with a brush and wiped it off with a rag ten minutes later and let it dry. We wiped it down with a tack cloth and applied the first coat of poly. It looked good, but it had quite a bit of dust in it. After it dried, I sanded it with 220 and cleaned it up with a tack cloth again. I then carefully applied a second coat of poly and it looks good. Not being a pro, I assume that one's done.

So, I move on to the laundry room. Oh no....

I did the same thing. I puttied a few holes, sanded, stained, and that all went well. I applied the first coat of poly to the cabinets, and both sides of the door. (We removed the doors to do the work) The poly was smooth, but of course had some dust in it, but not much because we took care and cleaned the entire house before starting. At this point, I took a week or so off because we had a baby. I came back yesterday to work on them. I sanded the first coat of poly on all of the doors. I let the dust settle and cleaned them all with a tack cloth. Then, I started applying the second coat as I had done on the head knocker. After the first few doors, I kept thinking that the poly was thicker than when I first used it. (I later figured out that it was)

Okay, so I added a little paint thinner to it. The people at Sherwin Williams told me a lot of the pros do this on the first coat because it makes the poly dry faster. Well, here are my results:

The first half of the doors are glossy, but have paint brush strokes all through them. There are a couple of small runs, but very few. The second half of the doors (after adding about 1/3 cup of paint thinner to about 3/4 gallon of poly) have more of a satin finish, but no brush strokes. I was hoping that this second coat would be the final coat as it was on the head knocker, but that obviously isn't the case.

So, that's my problem. I don't think it's a matter of skill, but more of a lack of knowing how-to. So, here are the qustions that I have:

1) I brushed on stain and wiped off. Is this the best practice? (I have a 3000psi Graco sprayer)
2) I brushed on the poly, is that the best way?
3) I used Minwax poly. Is that a good choice?
4) How do you eliminate the brush strokes in the poly, or how do you keep it from thickening over time? Use quarts instead of a gallon? What do you suggest?
5) Is there a way to fix the brush strokes in the finished coat without damaging it and having to apply another coat?
6) I'm still getting a little bit of dust in the final coat. How is that normally handled?

I appreciate any advice! I'm on paternity leave and vacation time right now, so I'm trying to get as much done as possible while away from the office.

Thanks!

David

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Old 07-15-2007, 09:40 PM   #2
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Finishing Cabinets -- Wow. Need advice!


1) I brushed on stain and wiped off. Is this the best practice? (I have a 3000psi Graco sprayer)
That's good just be sure your using a lint free rag.

2) I brushed on the poly, is that the best way?
Spraying will give a better finish if your not real good with a brush. But brushing is fine (with a good quality brush)

3) I used Minwax poly. Is that a good choice?
That's fine.

4) How do you eliminate the brush strokes in the poly, or how do you keep it from thickening over time? Use quarts instead of a gallon? What do you suggest?
When applying the finish get it on as quickly and evenly as possible and don't over brush just a light finish stroke to smooth it out it ill level itself somewhat. Again a high quality brush for poly. I generally use quarts partly for this reason.

5) Is there a way to fix the brush strokes in the finished coat without damaging it and having to apply another coat?
You will need to sand them out. Re coat with fresh.

6) I'm still getting a little bit of dust in the final coat. How is that normally handled?
Dust is always a problem. You might close off the room and vacuum the room your working in. Rubbing compound will help once there dry.

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Old 07-15-2007, 11:41 PM   #3
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Finishing Cabinets -- Wow. Need advice!


Good advice from MinConst. I'll add a few more tips.....

1. Dust: Don't vacuum that same day that you finish with poly. Vacuuming will stir up dust that will take at least 24 hours to settle. Make sure that there is no sanding or any other construction work anywhere in the house until the finish is dry. Also (and oddly) make sure no one walks around on the 2nd story of the house (if there is one). Traffic above will cause dust to fall from the ceiling. Don't ask me how I know this

2. Brush marks: The first few times I worked with poly, I tried to work it like latex paint. It isn't, so don't. Just get it on (not too thick, not too thin) and leave it. Don't try to smooth it. If your brush runs out of poly, dip it again -- don't try to work poly from another area to cover.
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Old 07-16-2007, 06:55 AM   #4
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Usually I brush on the first coat of poly then steel wool it down. After that the next coats I apply using Minwax Wipe-on Poly. I think it gives a much better finish with a softer glow to it. It takes a few more coats though but it dries quicker than normal poly as well.
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Old 07-18-2007, 12:27 AM   #5
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I appreciate all of the info regarding this. I went out yesterday and sanded them all down. I put a fresh coat of poly on from a new quart. I brushed it on rather quickly and didn't go back over any of it. The results were MUCH better this time.

I do have a couple more questions.
1) I first did the face and sides of the cabinet doors, letting them dry sitting on the back. Once dry, I turned them over and put a coat of poly on the back. It isn't perfect where the two applications meet. Is there a trade secret that I'm missing on this one? It looks good, but I expect that there is a way to make it look better without much additional work.

2) I see some sanding marks from sanding down the "problem" coats that had brush strokes in them. I used 220 grit, is that what I should be using?

3) On the finished product, what is the best way to get the few pieces of dust, etc out of the finish coat? You mentioned rubbing compound, but I'm not sure what to buy and how to use it. I'm a newbee at the cabinet thing!

Thanks again!

David & Heather
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Old 07-18-2007, 06:52 AM   #6
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Synko makes a product called Rottenstone I believe. It's a fine powdered stone that you drop on the cabinet and rub on with a cloth. It's almost like talc and gives a very fine abrasion which actually buffs the surface up to a waxy looking shine. That's one type of rubbing compound. There are liquid ones as well.
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Old 07-18-2007, 09:56 PM   #7
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Finishing Cabinets -- Wow. Need advice!


You can also use paste wax an 0000 steel wool. Make sure it is 0000 size and fill the wool with wax. Keep it full of wax and it wont scratch. It will rub out the dust.
As for the trick on getting the rear and sides to blend. I don't think there is a special trick unless you hand the doors and spray them. Being careful when applying the finish to the edge is your best bet.
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Old 07-19-2007, 12:11 AM   #8
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Finishing Cabinets -- Wow. Need advice!


Quote:
Originally Posted by dsteinke View Post
I appreciate all of the info regarding this. I went out yesterday and sanded them all down. I put a fresh coat of poly on from a new quart. I brushed it on rather quickly and didn't go back over any of it. The results were MUCH better this time.

I do have a couple more questions.
1) I first did the face and sides of the cabinet doors, letting them dry sitting on the back. Once dry, I turned them over and put a coat of poly on the back. It isn't perfect where the two applications meet. Is there a trade secret that I'm missing on this one? It looks good, but I expect that there is a way to make it look better without much additional work.

2) I see some sanding marks from sanding down the "problem" coats that had brush strokes in them. I used 220 grit, is that what I should be using?

3) On the finished product, what is the best way to get the few pieces of dust, etc out of the finish coat? You mentioned rubbing compound, but I'm not sure what to buy and how to use it. I'm a newbee at the cabinet thing!

Thanks again!

David & Heather
The trade secret is to hang the doors and spray or paint both sides at same time. Barring that, make sure overlaps are are the inside edges of doors. 220 is fine but we usually use 360 prior to last coat. As long as you followed the grain when sanding (not cutting across) the marks shouldn't show.

Quite a project for a newbie to tackle- kudos!
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Old 07-29-2007, 11:15 AM   #9
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Finishing Cabinets -- Wow. Need advice!


I have learned the brushing poly is a very time consuming task. It's have to find a place to lay out enough of the cabinet doors to get them all done within a reasonable time. I've been thinking about trying a different approach to the rest of this project. (by the way, the next project is painting 15,000 sqft of wall and ceiling area. wow.)

I have a Graco XR7 3000psi airless sprayer and the thought of using it to spray the poly has crossed my mind a number of times. Of course, if I don't know the how's beforehand, it could mean disaster. So, I'm to the point that I want to try it, but I have some questions:

1. I do not have a good way to hang the cabinet doors. What is the best way to cover front, back, and the sides? Somebody locally said to spray the back, and barely spray the sides. Let it dry, turn it over and spray the front and barely spray the sides again. Is this a good practice?

2. How do you keep from "gluing" your pieces to the work area that they are sitting on due to overspray? What is the best work surface for this method (assuming it is the right way to do it)

3. What size tip should I use? I have a .015 "standard" tip used for painting area.

4. How prone is the poly to runs while spraying? I am using a Minwax product.

5. If I get a run while spraying, what's the best method of fixing it?

6. I have cabinets sitting on top of finished tile. I'm assuming I need to protect the entire tile area with paper. What about other surfaces? Will the atomized poly gather on the walls, windows, etc in the house and cause problems, or is this concern unwarranted?

7. With this oil based poly, I have been brushing it with minimal ventilation to help keep the dust down. Spraying is obviously different. How much should I ventilate?

8. Dust -- We have swept and vacuumed the entire house. We are using tack cloths to clean the surfaces prior to application. Naturally, in new construction, there is still a lot of dust around on the floors, etc. I'm worried about the sprayer kicking it up. Thoughts?

9. The Graco manual talks about safety while using the oil based products, especially during cleanup. It discusses things like actually grounding the metal bucket that you spray the gun into during cleanup, etc. Is this just a cover their butt practice, or is it "needed"? What do you guys normally do?

10. I now understand the skill and knowledge required to become an "expert" painter. I'm far from that and must commend all of you that have reached that level.

I have attached a few project photos below. Again, thanks for the help!!!








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Old 07-29-2007, 11:08 PM   #10
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Finishing Cabinets -- Wow. Need advice!


Looks good from here.

How pourous is the wood? How long you letting the stain dry? This doesn't have to be over complicated. Sometimes the dust from sanding gets into the pores of the wood. Tac rags alone may not do the job, I always use a duster brush and get the corners real well. Also, a shop vac with the round brush is very good, along with the tac cloth. Don't rub the tac cloth very hard. The adhesive rubs off onto the wood.

Easy solution to your problem is to go get a can of quick dry ployeurethane.
Found at home depot. Get a white or black china bristle brush. These brushes are notorious for letting go of the bristles while you work. So, try to get all the loose bristles out before using. Make sure the stain is dry, dry dry. Leaving it on for 10 minutes is a fairly heavy layer.

Lay the poly on and don't be a afraid to spread it out. For a flat panel, spread it cross grain across the top and then pull it out with the grain. Go quickly, avoid the tempation to touch up and you'll be fine. As an amateur, you may not get complete coverage first time. But you will on the second coat.
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Old 07-29-2007, 11:29 PM   #11
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Finishing Cabinets -- Wow. Need advice!


If you're going to spray- the tip is too big - use 411 0r 412 (8" fan, .11 or .12 orifice).

Yes,mask everything you don't want the fog to get on. If you have a way to hang doors- make a drying rack for afterwards. Or, what a lot of guys do is spray each door, then place on the floor or wood scraps, leaning one corner against the wall. You can stack a lot this way- place them a few inches apart.
The other option is to spray one side of everything- let dry overnight and then spray other sides- this method minimizes runs. If you get a run, use a brand new quality brush- lightly blending. SOmetimes we've used sponge brushes because they don't leave bristle marks.

Good Luck
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Old 07-31-2007, 08:46 PM   #12
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Finishing Cabinets -- Wow. Need advice!


joewho - The wood is knotty alder. From what I understand it's a soft wood, but not a really soft wood. I have been letting the stain dry at least 5 or 6 hours, but typically overnight. I was staining one set, then poly, sand, poly, etc. I decided to go ahead and get all of the staining out of the way and then work only with the poly. We should be done staining everything tomorrow or Thursday.

Da Vinci - So, you're saying to spray them, then prop them up against a wall? I'm assuming you only spray one side at a time doing this method, right?

I appreciate the help so far. What about ventilation while spraying poly?

Thanks again!

David
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Old 07-31-2007, 10:32 PM   #13
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Finishing Cabinets -- Wow. Need advice!


Quote:
Originally Posted by dsteinke View Post
joewho - The wood is knotty alder. From what I understand it's a soft wood, but not a really soft wood. I have been letting the stain dry at least 5 or 6 hours, but typically overnight. I was staining one set, then poly, sand, poly, etc. I decided to go ahead and get all of the staining out of the way and then work only with the poly. We should be done staining everything tomorrow or Thursday.

Da Vinci - So, you're saying to spray them, then prop them up against a wall? I'm assuming you only spray one side at a time doing this method, right?

I appreciate the help so far. What about ventilation while spraying poly?

Thanks again!
David
Actually, I used this method a lot years ago before we developed an entire system for cabinetry finishing.

We would spray all sides of door using hook in an edge to hold it/move it. Once sprayed, we'd take it by the hook carefully and place it in the manner shown in illustration below (sorry for crudity of drawing). Start at an angle shown place one, then carefully begin to stack one at a time leaving a few inches (3-4) in between for air circulation. BE CAREFUL when placing- nothing sucks more than slipping with the last one and seeing a quick domino effect ruin your beautiful job.

If you place them carefully, you can spray everything in an hour- and have a beautiful finish. The only thing that actually touches the wall is the inside top corner- that's all you need. If you can see it afterward- touch it with a little dab from an artist brush-still beats hand brushing all those...

Two things- Spray doors and carry over so that it is the inside top corner that goes against the wall, and the edge that sits on the floor should be the edge that is the "unseen" one. If door is an "upper" - it's the edge closest to ceiling- lower is closet edge to floor.

If your floor is covered in rosin paper- put paint sticks (2 parallel rows) or wood scraps to hold doors off floor.

Also, practice a few times with some dry doors- get the feel for it- it's easy with a little practice.

Yes, use something to exhaust fumes, even if it's a fan- through a cheap filter on suction side to catch poly.

Nice job so far! By this time- you're probably ready to just get done and put it together. Use this method to speed things up

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Old 08-05-2007, 12:24 AM   #14
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Da Vinci,

Can you please expand on what type of hook to use to hold and move the doors? I'm trying to get this figured out.

I don't know it if matters, but the cabinets were built with the hinges that don't use screws. Might be a European style hinge or something?

Thanks!

David
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Old 08-09-2007, 06:53 PM   #15
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Does anybody know what type of "hooks" to use given this scenario? I hope to knock the rest of this project out this weekend.

Thanks!

David

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