Ask any wood finisher and you will learn that dust is the enemy of a smooth finish. Eliminate dust and you eliminate the problem. So, how do you do that?
First, recognize that dust is everywhere; on your project, around your workbench, on the floor, on the ceiling, even on your clothes. And, as soon as you brush on a sticky stain or finish, it acts like a magnet, pulling dust to it.
Second, pick your work space carefully. Working outdoors only trades wood dust for pollen, road dust and bugs. Working indoors is better, but you still want to avoid brushing a stain or finish beneath an active heating or air conditioning vent. Also, avoid areas with a strong natural breeze that brings dust indoors. If you rely on an open window for ventilation, put a screen on it to block out dust particles.
Third, a rag or a dry brush are not the best ways to eliminate sanding dust. A rag forces dust deeper into the pores of the wood, where it will come back out once you start applying your stain or finish.
A dry brush or, worse yet, an air compressor simply blows the dust up into the air, where it hovers before landing back onto your wet stain or finish.
Finally, the best way to control dust is to eliminate it with a vacuum. A soft bristle brush on the end of the hose will gently dislodge dust from the pores, joints and corners of your project while the vacuum draws it into the canister.
Even with vacuuming, however, you will still have some dust settle into your wet finish. To eliminate it, after your clear finish dries, sand it lightly with #220-grit sandpaper before applying your next coat. If needed, wet-sand your final coat with #400-grit dipped in mineral oil, which acts as a lubricant to prevent your sandpaper from leaving scratches.
Until next time.
The secret to a smooth finish is a smooth surface.
Be sure to check out Minwax’s new “Made With Love. Finished With Minwax.” campaign currently going on. The theme is ‘Find. Finish. Love.,’ celebrating the thrill of finding real wood pieces – sometimes in the least expected places – and the joy of making them into something we love.