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I am new to wood working and am doing some small projects and what i have found is i am lacking some information. After you sand and stain a piece of wood what do you put on it to make it like a piece of furniture. What i am meaning i guess is how do you get that smooth clear hard shiny finish like on wood furniture that you buy?
 

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There are any number of clear coatings you could use and these would vary depending on the project. Some are more water resistant than others and some are made for interior use and some are made for exterior use.

Finishing by hand can be very difficult. I would recommend you get an air compressor and a sprayer. It doesn't have to be expensive equipment. Any cheap sprayer would work for most things. I use a Harbor Freight #97855 sprayer I get with a 20% off coupon for around 21 bucks. The compressor is the most important part. You can often save money by finding a used on on craigslist. Try to find one that develops at least 4 cfm at 90 psi.

If you had the means of spraying you could use a lacquer finish for interior projects. It dries so fast and is so easy to use you could be done in a couple of hours after the stain is dry.
 

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There are any number of clear coatings you could use and these would vary depending on the project. Some are more water resistant than others and some are made for interior use and some are made for exterior use.

Finishing by hand can be very difficult. I would recommend you get an air compressor and a sprayer. It doesn't have to be expensive equipment. Any cheap sprayer would work for most things. I use a Harbor Freight #97855 sprayer I get with a 20% off coupon for around 21 bucks. The compressor is the most important part. You can often save money by finding a used on on craigslist. Try to find one that develops at least 4 cfm at 90 psi.

If you had the means of spraying you could use a lacquer finish for interior projects. It dries so fast and is so easy to use you could be done in a couple of hours after the stain is dry.
Well the first thing i am going to do is a rolling island with a wood top. I got the wood top sanded and stained just need some sort of clear hard coating what would you recommend? I do have access to a sprayer if i absolutely need one.
 

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Well the first thing i am going to do is a rolling island with a wood top. I got the wood top sanded and stained just need some sort of clear hard coating what would you recommend? I do have access to a sprayer if i absolutely need one.
You would need a finish a little water resistant. An oil based polyurethane would be the most water resistant but because of the long drying time may be difficult to do. Also if the stain color is light may not be a good choice. An oil based polyurethane has a yellow tint to it and continues to yellow as it ages. If the color is light this may create a problem. This finish can be brushed on or some folks have good luck using the wipe on poly. It's less likely to show brush marks.

You could also use a water based polyurethane. It will get the job done but takes a lot of elbow grease. Since the finish has water in it it raises the grain and roughens the wood. You have to put several coats on sanding between coats before the finish gets smooth. It will remain clear so is suitable for light or dark woods.

Another option for a finish would be a cab-acrylic or precatalyzed lacquer. This finish is water resistant, dries fast and is easy to apply but has to be sprayed. Under normal circumstances you apply one coat of a vinyl sealer, allow it to dry 15 minutes and sand it. Then apply two coats of lacquer allowing each coat to dry an hour and your done. Since it dries to touch in minutes you don't get all the dust, dirt and bugs in the finish you sometimes get with oil based finishes.
 
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