Yes, maintenance of the bucket itself when storing the compound is important. I haven't found it useful or convenient to keep the plastic wrap on top, although if I'm going to store for quite awhile or an unknown time, I'll put in a shallow layer of water on top. Also, if you store it it can turn very moldy. By the way it's best to use a heavy drill and mixing paddle to mix the compound the first time you open it, to make it as smooth as possible. When doing this, I drop in a capful of bleach if I'm going to be saving the compound, which saves it from getting moldy.
When bigcaddy says to "drag the knife", it's best if you push with the sharp edge going away from you, rather than pull with the handle coming toward you, as this won't knock much off. Sanding is possible too of course, but sanding after each of 3 coats is really a messy pain. I prefer to take my time and get the coats smooth, so I don't have to sand until after the third coat.
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