You mention that you want a 'piano' finish, but say you used a satin lacquer. Do you want that super high gloss reflective finish, like a piano finish, or just a smooth to the touch finish?
Did you use a grain filler specifically for that purpose, like ones called a paste wood filler
, or 'grain filler
'? They apply in a consistency of mayonnaise.
Thanks for the response - I do only mean a smooth to the touch (and eye) finish. I don't actually want it glossy or *too* reflective, as the speakers are going in a theater room. I found the satin gives a nice initial sheen, although for long term I may actually be after semi, but ultimately that isn't my concern at the moment.
I have tried several methods or grain filling the walnut burl veneer, all methods having unique problems:
Epoxy - this probably worked the best. It gave a smooth finish with good dimensionality, and the lacquer adhered to it well. Curing time/sanding was a pain, and I've heard some people simple never get the epoxy to cure right, whereas other people never have a problem. Finally I have longevity concerns me, as Epoxy isn't meant to be exposed to sunlight and I have heard rumors it breaks down when exposed to UV and forms white particles.
Superglue - hardens and fills well but is splotchy, and almost impossible to sand back to the grain. My last attempt it even left a strange spotty white residue on the veneer.
Grain fillers (colored) - these just kill the dimensionality of the grain. Compared to Epoxy of copious brushed on lacquer, these look flat.
Grain filler (water-based silica, Crystalac) - This is just a pain. I never got it to fill the grain entirely, no matter how many subsequent applications. If I apply it without a sealcoat (zinser dewaxed shellac) it really dulls the veneer. With a sealcoat and I can't effectively sand it back, because I end up sanding into the sealcoat and the finish looks blotchy. I can't just leave it on either, since it isn't entirely clear and has a strange clear-blue tint.
Lacquer - I've also tried using Minwax lacquer and brushing on 7 layers. I waited for the piece to cure (4 weeks) then sanded smooth/rubbed it out. This I liked a lot, but after 4 more weeks some of the burls with deep pits started to have noticable cutback on close inspection. It still feels relatively smooth and looks great from any real distance, but I don't know how much it will continue to cut back, or how a lacquer finish that thick will hold up over the seasons.
So any suggestions would be appreciated. Ideally, if it would work and hold up for 20 or so years, I'd like to slather on 10 or so brushed lacquer layers and sand smooth/rub it out maybe after 8 weeks this time. Problem is I don't know what to expect with that and don't want to spend another year practicing finishes before the piece is done. Would a shellac sealcoat underneath or on top of the finish help? Are epoxies more stable grain fillers than I am giving them credit for? Or maybe there are things I am really just not considering...