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I am building a wine cabinet and the top is going to be made out of African mahogany. I really would like a high gloss, glass-like finish. I know I am supposed to add a washcoat and a grain filler, but what order do I apply them in. I have shellac, denatured alcohol, a pore filler, transtint dye. Also, can I use polyurethane as a final topcoat?
 

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I prefer an oil based pastewood grain filler which is applied first. There are some grain fillers that recommend using a wash coat first. I haven't used this type so just follow the directions if it recommends a wash coat first. Then use the transtint dye. If you are planning to seal with shellac, be sure its a de-waxed shellac (Zinsser Sealcoat) because it is not recommended to use polyurethane over standard shellac because of the wax content. Do you have the means of spraying? With a glass like finish you are in for a great deal of hand work if you are brushing. With a high gloss you would have to put a much thicker finish on and then hand rub the brush marks out of it. Anyway if you are spraying when you get the finish applied to about double the thickness of a trash bag, 6 mils, sanding between coats, let cure a couple of weeks before rubbing out. If you are brushing you might need to go to 9 mils. Then wet sand the finish with 1500 to 2000 grit sandpaper until you clean up any dust that might have gotten in the finish and buff with a auto polisher with a lambswool bonnet and rubbing compound. I like 3m rubbing compound. This could be done by hand but it would take much longer. If you use the auto polisher don't bare down on it because the finish still isn't fully cured at this point.
 

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+1 What Steve said, but, I would thin the poly with mineral spirits and wipe on, it takes more coats of finish but no brush marks to deal with. Wipe on dries faster, so it doesn't allow time for dust to settle and dry in the finish.
 

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I am building a wine cabinet and the top is going to be made out of African mahogany. I really would like a high gloss, glass-like finish. I know I am supposed to add a washcoat and a grain filler, but what order do I apply them in. I have shellac, denatured alcohol, a pore filler, transtint dye. Also, can I use polyurethane as a final topcoat?
I would recommend a solvent base pore filler first. An aniline alcohol based dye works very well, and a variety of topcoats can be used, preferably sprayed if you can. The topcoat can be thinned for a sealer. I don't particularly like shellac for that. The residential bar below was done that way, sprayed topcoat, but not rubbed out. The finish was off the gun.
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