Sanding and finishing black walnut... tips? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

 
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post #1 of 13 Old 10-22-2012, 10:00 PM Thread Starter
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Sanding and finishing black walnut... tips?

Im about to begin a project using some beautiful american black walnut i purchased. This will be my first time working with it, so I thought id ask you guys for any tips or advise in regards to sanding/finishing. For this particular project, im going for a somewhat modern look, dark, smooth and glossy. Sadly I live in Ca, and theyre slowly taking all the good **** off the shelves, so keep that in mind. Please and thank you!

Jeremy
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post #2 of 13 Old 10-22-2012, 10:36 PM
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Just what is it about sanding and finishing you want to know.

For black walnut I prefer the natural look. I use a sealer and then gloss or semi-gloss lacquer.

George
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post #3 of 13 Old 10-22-2012, 11:10 PM
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I use a Milwaukee random orbit sander for my higher grit sanding. I go from 120 grit to 150, then to 220 grit on fine grain like walnut or cherry. Coarse grain woods like oak do not require going to 220 grit. I even go one step further and hand sand with a worn 220 disc and a sanding block in the direction of the wood grain. This will get rid of the last of any pigtail swirls that might still be in the wood from the orbital sander. Once you have the project all sanded you can take lacquer thinner or paint thinner on a rag, after you have dusted the project off, and wipe with the grain, just dampening the surface. This will show you the finished color of the raw wood and you will see any scratches or defects that are still in the wood. This is your last good chance to fix anything by touching up the sanding. You can lightly sand out a sanding mark that shows up after staining, but the sandpaper will gum up with stain and you run the risk of the spot showing up as a different shade.

Once you are satisfied you can either apply your first coat of finish or the stain coat. If you stain, then wait out the prescribed dry time and make sure the surface is wiped free of any excess stain, then apply your first coat of finish. If you stained, I recommend not scuff sanding the first coat of finish. It is very easy to sand through that 1st layer and take off some stain. Then you have a mess. I usually hand rub off any dust or overspray on that first coat, then apply the second coat. After that i use 440 wet and dry sand paper torn into 1/4 sheet and folded in half. I hand sand with the grain with this folded sheet. I use almost no pressure. I use my hand so I can control the pressure better. Also, it prevents the edge or the corner of a sanding block from scratching the finish. All this scuff sanding is doing is getting rid of dust specks. Watch your sandpaper and if little dots of finish stick to it, peel them off with your fingernail. These will mar the finish and show up in the next coat. Polyurethane is notorious for causing these. If you get a lot of these dots your finish may not be hard enough. After a once over with the sandpaper use a T-shirt rag (100% cotton) to wipe off the dust. Next, and this is most important, wipe the whole surface with your bare hand. You will be surprised how much dust is still there. Each pass, wipe the dust off your hand on your clean pants. Go over the surface once more. Now you are ready for the next coat of finish. If you are doing 3 coats of finish, repeat the scuff sanding after the 2nd coat.

If you did a good sanding job and you have a good spray area there should be not roughness on your final coat. If there still is some roughness after your final coat, wait a few days for the finish to cure. This next step is touchy. If the finish is rough you can use 1000 grit wet and dry sandpaper torn into 1/4 sheet and use a sponge as a backer/block. Use almost no pressure and go with the grain. This will leave a satin sheen, but will smooth out the surface. If you want more gloss you can buy from 3-M a micro grit buffing pad. There is also a company that makes 3600 and 4000 grit buffing cloths. Here is the 3-M page for the pads...

http://www.shop3m.com/61500123247.html
____
Here is the link for the micro buffing cloths...
http://www.woodworkingshop.com/product/mi01010/

These buffing pads and cloths will give you a gloss shine if you want it and a perfectly smooth finish.
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post #4 of 13 Old 10-23-2012, 12:07 AM
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typically, I use tung oil mixes - like formby's. there are other brands as well. the tung oil penetrates and is really pretty.

to do this well, I start sanding at 120, 180, 220, 320. I never use 80 grit or even 100 as it leaves swirlies all over the work piece. I also sand up to 320 in order to help close the grain in walnut. it tends to be pretty loose so finish will settle in the longer parts of the grain. sanding to 320 helps to close them up. sometimes I'll even go to 400 grit.
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post #5 of 13 Old 10-23-2012, 01:11 AM
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When you work out your finish schedule practice on some scrap wood first. I would sand the wood through 180 grit and since you are going with a gloss finish, I would use a pastewood grain filler. Finish a piece of walnut with just clear and try one with the filler and see what you like best. The grain filler can be tinted with a universal tinting color so I would recommend that. If you put the natural grain filler on walnut it will make white streaks in the grain. Once filled I would finish with an oil based polyurethane. If that isn't available where you are I would use the water based poly.
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post #6 of 13 Old 10-23-2012, 06:05 PM Thread Starter
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Wow, thanks for all the prompt replies guys! MNsawyergp, i know exactly what u mean about the oil poly gumming up. up until recently, that was the only finish i used. Since I posted, ive been experimenting with some scraps, and Im pretty sure i wanna go with oils, at least first. I like the tung and the boiled linseed oil. someone else said tung here, it the BSO a good idea?? And I no longer have access to lacquer or oil based poly. How about shellac as a top coat?? can it be applied over oils, or would that be redundant? I tried some water bourn deft and varathane poly, not too impressed. But i also wouldnt doubt if it were user error. But the oil poly took no time to figure out, so i dunno. The main wonder that triggered my post was the pore situation. Ive never used a grain filler, but im pretty positive i want to in this case, i feel its taking away from the awesome swirly grain patterns i so carefully picked out. any specific names/brands of grain fillers to get me on the right path?? any home made concoctions i can whip up?? side note: i wasnt planning on staining this project, but last night just for ****s, i stained a piece with a cabernet oil based, it looks pretty badass. maybe on another project. Thanks again to all the replies, ive taken something from each one for sure
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post #7 of 13 Old 10-23-2012, 07:42 PM
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post #8 of 13 Old 10-23-2012, 11:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScStowaway View Post
Wow, thanks for all the prompt replies guys! MNsawyergp, i know exactly what u mean about the oil poly gumming up. up until recently, that was the only finish i used. Since I posted, ive been experimenting with some scraps, and Im pretty sure i wanna go with oils, at least first. I like the tung and the boiled linseed oil. someone else said tung here, it the BSO a good idea?? And I no longer have access to lacquer or oil based poly. How about shellac as a top coat?? can it be applied over oils, or would that be redundant? I tried some water bourn deft and varathane poly, not too impressed. But i also wouldnt doubt if it were user error. But the oil poly took no time to figure out, so i dunno. The main wonder that triggered my post was the pore situation. Ive never used a grain filler, but im pretty positive i want to in this case, i feel its taking away from the awesome swirly grain patterns i so carefully picked out. any specific names/brands of grain fillers to get me on the right path?? any home made concoctions i can whip up?? side note: i wasnt planning on staining this project, but last night just for ****s, i stained a piece with a cabernet oil based, it looks pretty badass. maybe on another project. Thanks again to all the replies, ive taken something from each one for sure
What is BSO? A lot of people here use shellac as a topcoat. It can be applied over linseed or tung oil after it is dry. In my opinion you would be better off with the water based poly then shellac. I would not make any homemade grain filler. Sherwin Williams has a good oil based grain filler. If its not available in your area I bet they have a water based grain filler. I just wouldn't use it over linseed oil. It would go better on raw wood. You can fill the grain with the finish sanding it between coats. The finish will fill the grain, it would just take a lot of extra coats.
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post #9 of 13 Old 10-24-2012, 12:02 AM Thread Starter
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I'm sorry, I meant blo, boiled linseed oil.
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post #10 of 13 Old 10-24-2012, 01:40 AM
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So, to sum up, you want something easy to apply, that gives an excellent finish and is durable. Not much to ask, eh?

Try this method using Liberon Tung Oil diluted 1:1 with White Spirits. You will get a very smooth finish (like glass), with excellent grain differentiation, water and radiant heat resistance, washable with ordinary kitchen cleaners (like Spray and Wipe) and longevity. You won't need Shellac or Poly or wax or anything else.
Here's some pics of American Black Walnut done this way, I did this afternoon for you.

In the second last pic, you should be able to see the window of my shed reflected in the finish.

In the last pic you can see the slurry that forms during the wet sanding. This is your grain filler. The slurry is taken up by the higher grit pads and a wipe with a cotton rag gets rid of any superfluous residue.

Regards,

Rob
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post #11 of 13 Old 10-24-2012, 08:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScStowaway View Post
I'm sorry, I meant blo, boiled linseed oil.
There's nothing wrong with using BLO for an oil finish. It's been used for ages. I just can't stand the smell of it so I normally use tung oil when using that type of finish.
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post #12 of 13 Old 10-25-2012, 08:05 PM
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Which way did you go in the end?

Regards,

Rob
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post #13 of 13 Old 11-26-2012, 12:54 AM Thread Starter
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Hey all, sorry for the disappearing act. Just moved, at&t is obviously the busiest company on earth cuz it took 3 weeks to get internet and cable. I havent made a final decision quite yet. been trying your suggestions and creating some of my own combos (some better than others) on scraps. Now Ive got a few methods that I know ill like and im not to worried about it. Theres other types of wood involved, so im gonna wait to see how the different methods look against the other woods. Im stoked, you guys are great, a thousand thank yous! ill be sure to post pics of the aftermath.
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