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Finish Strong: 5 Tips for a Flawless Furniture Finish

You've found that perfect piece of heaven that is crying out to get a new life in the trust of your own skillful refinisher's hands. You've planned, you've prepped, you've scraped, you've stripped, you've painted...and now you're pooped! But you still have to finish the darn thing so all of your hard work doesn't chip off...and not in that trendy "old world chippy paint" way. 

So how do you make sure your finished furniture looks every bit as dreamy as you hoped it would be? Read on, friends, and get a glimpse into my super secret tricks of finishing as strongly as you started! (And a super SUPER secret...many of these are things you do BEFORE you finish.)

5. Sand. OK, so this isn't exactly a secret since every tutorial that is worth a darn will tell you to do it, but it really is THE key to a smooth finish. After each coat of paint, use superfine sand paper or a sanding sponge  to give your piece a good once-over. Give more attention to places where the paint is thicker, and use  these nifty devices for nooks, crannies and rounded bits.

4. Use a self-levelling top-coat. This is not a magic substance that will allow you to haphazardly slosh it on and then spread out to adhere to the surface of your piece. But for those of us who detest visible brush strokes for certain looks, it certainly does seem magical! As the finish dries the chemicals in these products want to line themselves up in a nice, neat row, reducing the appearance of brush strokes. General Finishes  makes my favorite! 

3. Wood glue is your friend! This trick is actually used before you paint to help produce a more professional finish. The pieces I typically do right now are mid-century modren, meaning lots of clean lines. A tool many manufacturers used (and still use) to create a flawless finish was applying veneer, a natural or man-made thin sheet that is glued on top of the furniture's main structure. Over time these tend to crack or chip. If your piece has veneer, check out the edges by running your nail or fingertip lightly over them and then do the same towards the middle of a side. Compare what you feel and hear. If you find that there are more ridges and tears in the edges, paint on a layer of wood glue, allow to dry overnight, and sand off. The glue will have seeped in the cracks to provide added integrity to the veneer. 

2. Wood filler is your other friend! If your piece is missing a little - or even not so little - chunk of veneer or even of wood, go the extra mile to produce a smooth finish and smear on some of this little helper. Look for wood filler, which has sawdust in it and qill dry, rather than wood putty. You will also likely want one that is stainable and paintable. Here is a good choice!

And my numero uno super secret trick to getting a flawless finish:

1. Do it in the dark. This is definitely unconventional, but it is my preferred way to finish a piece! Rather than using main light source (i. e., overhead lighting) when applying a finish, turn on a dim bulb on a lamp or other directional lighting tool in an otherwise darkened space. The sheen of newly applied finish will reflect more light in contrast to the older coats, helping you detect all the places that you still need to coat. You can also just do the main finishing in normal light and then check for missed spots using this technique, but where is the adventure in that?! 

And now all you have to do to finish strong is...start!

If you have any super secret (or even well known but super important) tips to getting a flawless finish, I'd love to hear your wisdom. Divulge your best tricks below, and happy finishing.