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Kitchen Cabinets

rustywrench's picture

I have purchased custom cabinets for my new home. They have solid oak drawer fronts and doors. We opted to finish them ourshelves. I am considering using no stain, just a polyurathane coating and wondering if anyone has any helpful hints on finishing products that are easy to apply and durable for kitchen cabinets. Any finishing techniques or hints would also be appreciated.


Thanks, Rusty

(post #175779, reply #1 of 3)

Actually, Fine woodworking has an article on finishing in the latest edition. You have to decide whether to use oil, or waterbased finish. I usually choose  a Varathane satin finish because it is easier to apply and doesn't need as much work as a gloss. It also doesn't show scratches as easily either.

Remember to sand in between coats and the more coats the better. I usually do at least 3 to 4 and then after the last coat is dry, I do a water sand with 2000 grit which you can get at any auto parts store.

(post #175779, reply #2 of 3)

Thanks for the tip, back to the hardware store for another magazine.



(post #175779, reply #3 of 3)

I think the biggest issue you will face rustywrench is prep-work. Too many skip steps and end up with unhappy results.
Having been in kitchen cabinet manufacturing for 20 years, I know whereof I speak.
Heres everything you need to know for this simple project.

Buy a quality sealer.
Sand your doors with an orbital sander and 220 grit paper.
Thoroughly, (and I mean thoroughly) blow off all the dust.
I highly recommend spraying with a high volume low pressure spray-gun, called HVLP, but if you can't use a quality brush, and be very patient and thorough.
Apply the sealer. Good sealers are dry within 20 minutes. But if you are hand brushing, you won't be done in 20 minutes anyway. Thus, by the time you are finished your last door, you'll be ready to re-sand the first one.
sand in a different space than you spray or hand brush. Dust particles are what ruin finishes. You can't even see them (dust particles) with your naked eye, but they become pronounced when the lacquer coat dries, and separate an amateur from a professional every time.
So to re-iterate, remove dust thoroughly.
After sealing, re-sand with 220 grit, by hand.. use a wood block. we are not trying to remove the sealer here, merely to scuff it up, so the lacquer coat has something to bind itself into and hold.
Again, carefully remove all dust (in another room, not the finishing room) A tack cloth comes in handy here, but a compressor, with a moisture filter inline, will blow off 99% of it. Don't use a compressor without a moisture filter. those miniscule, microscopic droplets of water will also ruin your finish.
Now you are ready for a lacquer based finish coat. If you are spraying. This is what the industrial shops use, and it dries amazingly fast, self-levels, and lasts for years upon years. If you are hand brushing, there are other products out there, but have a drying rack built before you start, or string up a very solid sturdy wire line in a dust free area, away from sparks or heat, or dust, or furnace vents which will kick up dust while drying.
After the first coat is dry, sand again this time with a 400 grit, again, just to scratch up the first coat so the next coat has something to stick to. Then repeat the process one last time with 600 grit paper. as long as you control the dust, you'll have a finish to be proud of.
Tip 1:If you just don't want to spray, or to use lacquer base... then I recommend Flecto Varathane Professional Finish (in the black can) with medium sheen. Most production shops don't use gloss, and almost all home handymen do, that's why there result looks different.
Tip 2: you can usually walk into any production cabinet shop and buy a a couple liters of lacquer, or sealer for less than you can get an inferior product at your hardware store. The manufacturers use the good stuff and get it in 45 gallon drums. Just say you have one of their kitchen and need to do some refinishing and want it to match up.