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Thread: New woodworker looking for finishing advice

  1. #1

    New woodworker looking for finishing advice

    New woodworker here looking for some finishing advice. I have already made a coffee table and fish tank stand both pieces were stained then poly applied. Now I have been asked by my fiance to build a toy box for our almost 1 year old son. I am half way through building this project and am now thinking about how to finish it. The base of the toy box is made using 3/4 birch plywood with iron on edging and a 1x4 trim around the bottom with a routered top edge. The lid of the box will be 3/4 birch ply with real wood birch edging applied around the perimeter. My fiance has said she wants the interior of the toy box to be stained a darker color as well as the top to hopefully match the floor and furniture in his room which is why I went with birch ply and wood edging for the lid. I wanted to go with all solid wood for the top but unfortunately i dont have the equiptment or experience to glue up something of that size.

    Now for my question. For the interior and lid I am sanding lightly with 220 grit sandpaper as to not sand through the veneer. Then figured on applying pre stain conditioner, stain then poly. The outside of the box that will be painted is mainly where I am having troubles. I have a few places I want to use some filler to cover knots and defects in the wood but after I sand the filler I am wondering whether or not I should prime the box then paint and if so is there a certain kind of paint/primer I should be using? I am hoping for a smooth finish but would prefer it to not be so glossy. I do not have much experience painting.

    Any input for either the staining of the birch and painting would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Quite the honey-do project. Congratulations on your new addition. I think your staining regimen sounds fine. As for the painting, definitely prime the wood first, especially if you are filling flaws in it. Two coats of primer may be necessary to avoid seeing "ghosts" of your patches underneath your top coat. Zinsser makes excellent primer products. If your wood has any stains from knots or sap, Zinsser 1-2-3 or Stain Cover will cover them up well. Make sure you do this, otherwise you will see stains and bleed-through down the road.

    For paint I'd suggest an alkyd enamel. These tend to be on the glossy side but you can get low-gloss versions. Keep in mind that truly flat/matte painted surfaces pick up dirt and scuffs easily (esp., in a kid's room) and can be difficult to clean. You could also top coat the paint with a clear alkyd satin finish or other compatible coating.
    If you want a smooth painted finish (i.e., no brush or roller marks) I don't know any way of achieving that without spray equipment and a booth. I'd advise against spray from a can, as your project sounds a bit too large for this method. Why not go the honest route and show that this is a hand-painted piece, brush-strokes and all, by dad''s own hand?

    ETA: Make sure you use the right brush for your paint. If you're using alkyd enamel, get a high-quality polyester or polyester/nylon bristle brush (Wooster is a good manuf.). These are usually labeled for use with latex enamel but I've found that they give the right flow for a smooth job in alkyd as well.
    Last edited by David B. Morris; 12-16-2014 at 4:39 PM.
    David B. Morris

    "Holz ist heilig."

  3. #3
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    If you use oil based products on the interior it will stink for months or longer. That might be OK since it's a toy chest, but if you use water based products the residual smell will go away in days or weeks. Your choice. General Finishes makes a whole line of water based stains and dye stains, and they are available at Rockler or on-line at Homestead Finishing or WWHardware.com. The neutral base can be used as a conditioner. For the interior topcoat you might want to consider General Finishes High Performance Poly, available from the same sources. It goes on beautifully with a foam brush.

    For the outside paint I think you should go to your local Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore store and seek their advise for primer and topcoat. Both make fine products so go with whomever is local and/or you prefer. You will want to use a sandable primer first and then a compatible paint. You may also need to use autobody glaze or similar filler to fill in any dents or nicks. Typical painted projects go something like this: sand, fill, sand, fill, sand, prime, sand, fill, sand, prime, sand, etc., and, finally, paint. Again, I would go with water borne products to eliminate the stink while doing the project. To apply it, buy yourself a quality bristle brush, something around 1-1/2 - 2" wide and plan to spend at least $20. It will do a great job and will last many years if you clean it thoroughly after each use.

    John

  4. #4
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    John advice is sound.

    One point making the inside of the toy box dark; will make it dark and dingy inside, better to leave the inside bright so there are not dark corners in the toy box where everything will get lost...

    Matching the inside of the box to the color of the floor is not needed; the box will have toys in it and the floor will have toys all over it too. The toy box for my 4 sons the toys will make the inside of the box match the floor exactly. (LOL living room floor matched too now that I think about it.)
    Scott

    Finishing is an 'Art & a Science'. Actually, it is a process. You must understand the properties and tendencies of the finish you are using. You must know the proper steps and techniques, then you must execute them properly.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Holmes View Post
    John advice is sound.

    One point making the inside of the toy box dark; will make it dark and dingy inside, better to leave the inside bright so there are not dark corners in the toy box where everything will get lost...
    I was thinking the same thing. You could just leave it natural and cover it with a water-borne clear topcoat. Minwax makes a water-borne "polycrylic" that I used on a kicthen prep area once and which was quite tough. Cured in minutes with no lasting smell.
    Last edited by David B. Morris; 12-16-2014 at 5:10 PM.
    David B. Morris

    "Holz ist heilig."

  6. #6
    You guys got me thinking about the stain on the inside of the box and I agree dark wouldnt be the best. Im still going to go with a dark stain on the lid to match the room. I get that with being a kids toy box its bound to get roughed up a bit so for the inside im wondering if it would be more durable to prime and paint the inside the same as the outside or leave the inside natural with a few coats of poly?

    On the outside im going to go with a few coats of primer and then paint. Havent decided if im just going to get some zinsser and paint from homedepot or seek out advice from a lcoal sherwin williams or benjamin moore store like suggested.

  7. #7
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    If you buy paint from the BORG make sure it's acrylic enamel paint. Don't use latex wall paint.

    John

  8. #8
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    ONLY use waterborne finishes, lacquer or shellac on surfaces of the box that will be inside when the lid is closed. Acyrlic enamel would be just OK, waterborne wall paint not, but Oil based (alkyd) enamel will be much better--easier to apply and more durable. The can may say not to thin,but that's a lie, put on for regulatory reasons. Almost any oil based paint will need thinning so that brush strokes level away and bubbles break before the paint sets. Try about 10% added mineral spirits. The primer will let you know whether you have done a good job of filling knots or defects. Just examine the surface with strong light hitting from low angles.

    I disagree with the suggestion to use a polyester or other synthetic bristle brush for oil based enamel. A quality natural bristle brush is the better choice, my preference would be ox hair, but a good white bristle would be good too. It should have a chisel tip, not flat. Cleaned according to the sticky thread at the top of the finishing threads, it will last a very long time.
    Last edited by Steve Schoene; 12-17-2014 at 10:54 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Wakeling View Post
    I get that with being a kids toy box its bound to get roughed up a bit so for the inside im wondering if it would be more durable to prime and paint the inside the same as the outside or leave the inside natural with a few coats of poly?
    Here's my thinking - if you paint the interior, in a few years the boys are gonna outgrow it and your SO might want to repurpose it. She'll look inside and see all the scratches, nicks, and chips from toys being chunked in and you'll be asked to repaint. If you leave it natural, the nicks, etc won't show so bad and maybe can even be passed off as character marks.

  10. #10
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    I built this for my daughter:

    IMG_20130710_121638_986 Web Large.jpgIMG_20130710_121706_071 Web Large.jpgIMG_20130710_121630_722 Web Large.jpgIMG_20130710_121615_482 Web Large.jpgIMG_20130710_121603_274 Web Large.jpgIMG_20130617_180736_569 Web Large.jpgIMG_20130617_180714_889 Web Large.jpgIMG_20130320_180101_277 Web Large.jpg

    I used several steps. I used General Finishes red milk paint followed by GF High Performance Semi-Gloss on the inside. The outside I chose to use several steps to produce an antique look. I started with GF black milk paint, then I distressed it. I followed up with a bright red glaze, then a coat of amber shellac, and finally several coats of GF High Performance satin. Oh, and I used black flocking for the tray bottoms. 2 red oak shallow trays stack on each other and one red oak deep tray is divided in half. All ride on red oak rails.
    "I've cut the dang thing three times and it's STILL too darn short"
    Name withheld to protect the guilty

    Stew Hagerty

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Schoene View Post
    ONLY use waterborne finishes, lacquer or shellac on surfaces of the box that will be inside when the lid is closed. Acyrlic enamel would be just OK, waterborne wall paint not, but Oil based (alkyd) enamel will be much better--easier to apply and more durable.
    Sorry youve got me confused now with all these different types of finishes. I didnt realise there were so many different types of paints. Ive only ever painted walls and used latex paint. Are you saying if I paint the outside and inside of the box I should use a different type of paint?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Rimmer View Post
    Here's my thinking - if you paint the interior, in a few years the boys are gonna outgrow it and your SO might want to repurpose it. She'll look inside and see all the scratches, nicks, and chips from toys being chunked in and you'll be asked to repaint. If you leave it natural, the nicks, etc won't show so bad and maybe can even be passed off as character marks.
    My SO does want the inside of the box to be either stained and poly or just poly but unfortunately there are a few defects on the inside of the plywood that I was hoping to hide with filler and paint over. Maybe I should just accept that its a toy box and will get dinged up more inside and not many people are gonne see the defects on the inside.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stew Hagerty View Post
    I built this for my daughter:

    IMG_20130710_121638_986 Web Large.jpgIMG_20130710_121706_071 Web Large.jpgIMG_20130710_121630_722 Web Large.jpgIMG_20130710_121615_482 Web Large.jpgIMG_20130710_121603_274 Web Large.jpgIMG_20130617_180736_569 Web Large.jpgIMG_20130617_180714_889 Web Large.jpgIMG_20130320_180101_277 Web Large.jpg

    I used several steps. I used General Finishes red milk paint followed by GF High Performance Semi-Gloss on the inside. The outside I chose to use several steps to produce an antique look. I started with GF black milk paint, then I distressed it. I followed up with a bright red glaze, then a coat of amber shellac, and finally several coats of GF High Performance satin. Oh, and I used black flocking for the tray bottoms. 2 red oak shallow trays stack on each other and one red oak deep tray is divided in half. All ride on red oak rails.
    That is a very nice build. I hope mine turns out that nice.

  12. #12
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    You have and will get disagreement among those of us offering advise. But I'm very sure we will all agree on advising you NOT to use latex wall paint. It is very soft and not suitable for furniture. One of it's glaring deficiencies is that it "blocks", meaning that if you set something on top of it chances are it will stick to it (and form a block). That's not a problem for wall paint since you can't set anything on top of it, but it's a real problem for furniture, shelves, and toy chests.

    Now back to my personal biases. Oil based products are fine, I suppose, but they are slow to dry, stink while they do, and continue to stink for weeks or months thereafter. Other than that they are great! Waterborne products suffer none of those disadvantages and the good ones are nearly or just as durable as the best oil based paints. Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore make very good furniture grade waterborne paints - that's why I recommended you go to one of them.

    Now for the trump card. You have a 1 year old, right? Do you want him breathing the solvents coming off oil based paint? Didn't think so.

    John

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