Rubbing Out a Finish on Complicated Furniture

      Rubbing out a finish on a flat surface is one thing. But what if you're working with a complex shape? Here's some advice. February 15, 2015

Question (WOODWEB Member)

I have read many articles how to rub out a waterborne finish. They always show working on a flat horizontal surface using water and soap. I am wondering how to rub out something like one of my desks. Also it is suggested that any random orbital sander will work. My Porter Cable runs quite rough with tons of vibration. Should the RA tool run nice and smooth? What "base pads" for the RA work best? My PC has a hard H&L base pad that is not flat. Even the new pad is slightly cupped.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From Contributor B:
I use Abralon pads. They come in grits from 500 to 4000 (P-standard). They're foam backed, reusable and can be washed in water to remove dust/debris. They work great on a ROS, and you can get a 1/2" or 3/4" pad to put between the ROS and the pad. They also have a hand grip that the pads adhere to. Because they're foam backed they're great for edges, though, I'm usually not overly concerned about edges when I'm rubbing out.

From contributor C:
Abralon are made by Mirka abrasives. I start with 1000 grit with water and a drop of dish soap to act as lubricant. I use a 6" random orbital sander. The higher the grit, the higher sheen. I have not used on waterbased finish.

From Contributor M

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I did however agree with the suggestion of using Abralon Pads. I use them for any rubbing out I need to do these days and like them much more than all the old methods we used to do. I use a Dynabrade sander but I think any quality sander should work fine, you could even use a square pad orbital sander for the inside corners since I assume you are rubbing it out after assembly. Abralon pads come in 1/3 sheet size as well, we get ours from our Mirka dealer.

From Contributor F:
Are you wanting to satinize this item or do a high sheen gloss? To satinize this you would wrap Steel wool or Scotch-Brite around a flat wooden block as if you were block sanding. Rub with the gain all the way to the edges. Don't dry rub. Use water with some dishsoap to lubricate your abrasive. To get real close to an edge use a thin block and hold it at an oblique angle to the surface. Errands before you start the atomizing. Start with 800 grit or finer. If you want to use compounds then make sure that they contain no ammonia. Use either a block wrapped tightly with cotton or linen clothes (several layers, no wrinkles) or carpet attached to a block.

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