There are multiple ways wood can be made shiny and look finished. Most of the time when you come across shiny wood, it most probably is going to be caused by a layer of polyurethane on top of it.
You can add a coat of polyurethane to any piece of wood to make it shiny and glossy and it is one of the easiest methods to achieve the look you desire.
This process is fairly easy to understand but it requires a lot of time and hard work especially when it comes to getting a smooth, flat and shiny surface.
How to scuff up a surface
To scuff up a surface, you need to have the surface dry. You need fine steel wool or a fine grit wet sandpaper to wet sand. You could also use sanding sponges or synthetic finishing pads to scuff up the surface.
This is done to blend streaks or smoothen outruns that are left after the finishing layer is put on. The best thing to do is scuff the coating up between each coat, this way the next coat can bond tightly and also form a nice and uniform finish.
Spray & Wipe-on Finishes
You can find spray cans of lacquer. It can make wood look shiny and glossy once you spray it on evenly. You could also find waterborne acrylic. Don’t forget to use proper chalk lines and other woodworking tools to have a perfect finish.
If you are short on time, it is best to choose waterborne acrylic. Especially, since it dries relatively fast compared to other choices. You are going to need about half an hour between each coat. They can be scuffed and smoothened very easily.
The problem with this type of finish is that they do not hold up well with the race against time and repairs will be needed regularly depending upon use.
The upside is that it does not take too long to do so and is easy. The other type of finish is the wipe-on varnish. Danish oil is an example of a wipe on varnish and there are many other types of oil-varnish blends.
This method has been one of the most favorites of all the people because of how foolproof it is and almost everyone is able to get it right in their first try with minimal effort.
This type of finish requires about six hours of drying time between each coat and for if it is only for decoration, then a single coat of varnish does the job plenty well.
One of the great things about this type of wood is that they make dark wood look very nice with a lot of contrast and depth.
Avoid Brush-On Polyurethane
A tip is to always avoid using brush-on polyurethane. Because it requires a lot of patience. And because of the sheer time, it takes to complete a job finish with it.
It takes about six hours between coats and requires a lot of sanding and polishing to fix the brush marks left after it dries.
If you want the strength and longevity of polyurethane then buy some gel polyurethane. It is a wipe-on and wipe-off application but it takes more concentration to do compared to other finishes. It requires four hours for each coat to dry between coats.
Try to keep from walking or touching the finish before it fully dries and cures or else you might leave finger parts or other marks on the finish.
Once the coat is completely dried, scuff the surface up lightly with a synthetic finishing pad or very fine-grit sandpaper. And if you have more time, it is advised you do a second coat and then scuffs it again.
Once this finish dries, do a light scuffing* with a synthetic finishing pad or fine-grit sandpaper — and if you’ve got a little more time, do a second coat and scuffing.
Shellac is a Safe One
Shellac is the safest one to work with compared to all the others. It is very simple and can be easily applied with a cotton pad, a brush or with a spray bottle.
Lay a few coats within a few hours and in a few hours, the layers will be fully dried. It means that you will be able to sand and scuff up the surface.
Once you have finished scuffing up the surface, it is recommended that you apply paste wax in a circular motion with a 50% overlapping motion and then let the wax dry to a haze so that if you drag your finger across it, there is no residue.
Once the wax is dry, buff it out and you will get a very glossy surface.
How to get high gloss – Patience
There is a key rule you need to follow to get the highest amount of gloss close enough to be called a mirror-like finish is patience.
To get the perfect gloss, you need to spend at least a week piling coats and sanding between each coat to ensure the coats are as flat as possible to get the maximum gloss.
Therefore a lot of coats, a lot of work and time is what it takes to get a perfectly glossy finish on the wood. It is necessary for any woodworking project.
If you happen to not have enough time or patience to go through with this, you can look into other types of finishes. There are a few different types of finishes out there.
There is glossy, matte, satin or semi-gloss. Figure out what you want and what you are going to be able to do. Then decide on a type of finish to complete the work.
In simple steps
- Sand the surface of the wood with sandpaper of 600 grit to smoothen any imperfections and to get the surface scuffed up for the finish of your choice to grip onto something.
- Dampen a rag with mineral spirits and then wipe the surface of the wood to remove all the dust and oils from the pores if there is any left to be left with a clean surface.
- Take clear pore filler and with a paint sponge. Wipe it onto the surface to fill in any pores in the wood. Read the instructions of the manufacturer about drying time.
- Sand the surface with 600-grit sandpaper again to the sand of the excess pore filler to have a totally flat surface.
- Dampen a rag with mineral spirit again and wipe the surface down to get ready to lay you’re your finish.
- Lay down your finish whether it is polyurethane paint, lacquer in a spray can, etc. and let it dry
- Sand the surface down again with 600-grit sandpaper then to 800-grit. After which you move to 1000-grit and finally do 1200-grit sandpaper.
- Re-coat with your desired finish if you want extra gloss and repeat the sanding steps (optional)
- With a rubbing compound on a rag or a buffing machine, buff the wood until it is nice and shiny.
These are different options you have depending upon your situation and taste. You can fairly easily be able to attain your desired finish if you are patient and can consistently work till you finish. These steps are exactly what you need to follow to get the maximum gloss and a long lasting finish.