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The Fabulous Finish


The glossy slick finish found on automobiles, boats, and planes can be accomplished on wood surfaces.  It isn't that much different in effort and preparation to get this type of finish on most any wood surface.  By following the instructions below from sanding through adding a clear coat you can become a pro at creating this type finish on any project you wish.



  • The surface will need to be sanded to a fairly fine finish.  If the surface isn't fairly smooth to begin with, start with 100 grit sand paper for shaping and initial prep. 
  • Once the shaping and smoothing is complete, move on to 180 or 220 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches left by the 100 grip sand paper



  • Apply a first coat of primer fairly thick.  You will need two or three coats to fill in the scratches and seal the wood grain.
  • Let the first coat dry thoroughly before sanding.  It may take several hours for the primer to dry thoroughly.  This coat can be sanded with 220 or 320 grit sand paper.  I would probably use 220.  Try not to cut through to the wood over much of the surface, but make sure the whole surface area is sanded smooth.
  • Apply the second coat not quite as thick as the first, but thick enough so that a light sanding will not break through to show the wood but you have enough thickness to work out any remaining pits or scratches. 
  • Sand the second coat more lightly.  The high points and corners will be easy to sand too much, so try to sand the flat areas and barely sand at the corners and edges.
  • Apply a third light coat of primer. 
  • Sand the third coat of primer with 400 or 600 sandpaper.  You can sand dry or with water.  Most of the time it is easier with water because the dry sandpaper gets clogged very easily.  At this point you are trying to get a slick finish.  You may need to repeat this coat a fourth time if you get any of the edges too thin.


Color Coat 

  • With the primer finished to a fine slick surface, you are ready to put the first coat of color on the car. 
  • Using spray paint you will paint the bottom surfaces first.  Wait for these surfaces to dry and then paint the top.   Painting in this order will give you a better chance of not having blemishes on the upper side of your project.
  • You will be applying at least two or three light coats of color and sanding between coats.
  • Be sure to spray from a distance and make sure you start and stop the spray stream with the paint not aimed at the painted surfaces.  This is tricky for a beginner. 
  • The trick is to start the flow of paint with the paint not hitting the paint surface and to keep the paint stream moving from one side to the other at a steady pace as it crosses over the paint surface, and then stop the paint flow after passing the stream off the paint surface.    
  • This can be done by starting the can moving across the area to be painted without the paint flowing and pressing the paint button just before passing over the paint surface.  Hold the button as the paint passes over the paint surface, and release the button just after passing off the paint surface.
  • Wet sand between coats with 400 or 600 grit sandpaper.  Do this lightly but make sure the surface is slick when you are finished.  Also be sure to avoid sanding on the edges and corners.   Focus sanding efforts in the open areas and sand up to the edges and corners but not directly on them.   Corners and edges are tricky because they are so easy to over sand.


Clear Coat 

  • The clear coat will be applied one time after the last color coat has been lightly wet sanded.  Use a gloss clear coat, and no sanding will be needed.



 When done properly, this process yields a deep super slick glossy surface to just about any paintable surface.  You should practice on a small piece of material before tackling a larger or intricate object.


Please visit out how to series at for instructions on methods to accomplish other interesting projects.