Okay, I am really going to start at the end…or close to the end…of a project for this blog post. After over 30 years of hand brushing all my finishes, I’ve purchased an Earlex Spray Station 5500.
I have also changed from traditional oil base varnishes to several General Finishes water based products ; definitely a subject for a future post.
After several projects, I’m starting to get the hang of it. It is quicker…even with clean-up time. And I like the fact that I’m not brushing in bits of dust and the occasional hair (where do those come from!!??). Sure, it still may settle on the surface, but that is much easier to remedy. The over-spray is minimal and I can safely spray just about anywhere in the house and studio with just minimal prep.
I have found that on horizontal surfaces (table tops and such) that laying it on pretty heavy works better, as it levels out fairly well. Naturally on vertical surfaces, multiple light coats are best to avoid drips and sags. My pieces get between 5 and 7 coats; much more than most but there is a reason. The first 4-5 coats level it up, because I am going over hand painted designs. If I were to sand too deeply in those coats, I could easily cut into the design or glaze layers and ruin the work. Then I have to back up and re-work the design. I use fiber pads in between each coat to cut the gloss and assure adhesion.
Easily handle air bubbles.
Often there are a few air bubbles on the surface. I have found that immediately going over the surface with the air-only of the sprayer pops them and helps to level out the finish. I don’t want to get too close to the surface when I do this, or the wet varnish will crawl. If this does happen, I wait for it to dry, carefully sand with very fine sand paper to get rid of the ridge, and spray it again.
I try not to get too concerned about the occasional particle of dust or whatever that may fall on it. If I see it immediately, I can sometimes touch it lightly with a toothpick and get it out, but more often than not, it’s best to walk away!
The sanding process.
Because I’m totally obsessed with the perfect finish, I let it cure a few days then start sanding with a sanding block. I start with #320 and work down to #2000 (a car finishing grit) and finish this with hand rubbing with rottenstone and oil. I love the smooth-as-silk finish I am getting!
Well, that’s our first blog! Painless! I would love to hear from you…your experiences, comments and questions. I look forward to future conversations.