Join Date: Jul 2000
Thanked 233 Times in 220 Posts
Rep Power: 18
Re: Rubbed varnish finish - how to replicate?
Hand rubbed varnish is 'finished' by rubbing on various mixtures of rottenstone or various grades of pumice PLUS either water or oil to get the exact 'finish' to the varnish you desire.
The varnish, paint, heavy or 'resinated' oil (75% oil + 25% oil based varnish), lacquer, etc. must be fully cured before 'finishing'; on oil based coatings its better to wait 30 days before 'finishing'.
Flat sand with 2000 or finer grit W&D paper, then 3M Finese-it, then 3M Perfect-it rubbed in by bare hand = 'ultra-gloss'
Rottenstone + water = high gloss
Rottenstone + oil = semi gloss
Fine pumice or crushed diatomaceous earth + oil/water for semi glass
.... all the way down to coarser pumice and oil for coarser and coarser to matte finishes.
How to do:
• clean bare hand or clean 'balled-up' microfiber rag, slightly wetted with oil or water.
•*small* amount of abrasive picked up (dabbed into) by the moisture on the hand or rag.
• rub in the direction of the grain, until gloss/semi-gloss/matt is attained ... change/add abrasive often.
• Finish up with *very small* amounts of abrasive with wetted bare hand, rub until the surface gets HOT .... for development of the iridescent glowing 'patina' of the surface wood cells .... that warm radiant GLOWING appearance from the now 'dazzling' wood cells under the varnish.
The final polishing is usually better 'bare handed' as you can better feel the heat generated.
Rottenstone and pumice grades are obtained in old fashioned 'paint stores'.
For mega-ultra gloss, like what you see on high end private jet aircraft, mega-yachts, and the finishes on 'concours quality' auto paint jobs, etc. you can speed up the process by flat sanding 2000-->3000grit wet & dry, then Using Finese-it then Perfect-it and use an autobody shop rotating polisher, on low speed, and with a 3M knobby foam pad ... be careful not to burn the surface, keep the polishing pad 'moving'. Never change 'grits' on the knobby foam pads, one pad for each 'grit'.
The technique is almost similar to 'french polishing' of shellac but without the alcohol soaked cotton pads ... just a bare hand or clean microfiber rag.
Do webseach: "french + polishing" ... french polishing is the ultra-ultra gloss finishes found on the most expensive pianos, and other high end musical instruments, furniture, etc.
Last edited by RichH; 05-30-2012 at 09:41 PM.