In an email group, some professional refinishers were discussing using the 9 pound (#4000) and 30 pound (#600) Stuhr dual pad pnuematic rubbing machines to achieve low sheen rubs with no streaks. While they shared many tips, no one had a great solution. I emailed a bigwig at one of the major furniture factories. His solution was to do off-the-gun finishes in dust-free drying environments (try that onsite or in your garage in the summer!).
Are streaks a necessary evil when we do hand-rubbed finishes? Will the scratch patterns always appear to haze a surface in the wrong lighting situations?
It's sad to say, but off the gun in a dust-free environment seems like the only way to get flat or semi-flat sheens that don't suck. Theoretically, something that was quasi-non-directional might work. Straight-line sanders like the Stuhr, it would seem, can't possibly work, as you're always going to see the scratch pattern. A specific grit of Mirka Abralon on a random orbit sander, followed by paste wax to fill the scratch pattern, might get close. I live in the desert and if it's a calm day, I can shoot a fast-dry pre-cat and within a minute it's dust free dried. My SATAJet NR95s spray well enough that the finish goes down perfectly (except if I have the misfortune of running into the occasional suicidal bug). Normally, my climate lets me slide by. Most people don't have this situation going for them.
Bob Niemeyer, forum technical advisor
A friend of mine asked me to try rubbing a coating with a gray scotchbrite wrapped around a thirty pound brick and to see if I don't get a streaky sheen. His point was that the Stuhr 1000s and 4000s with steel wool are part of the secret to a satin or dull rubbed streak-free finish.
I'm still hand-rubbing the old fashioned way, by hand.