Bubbles and Dust Beware!


Earlier this year I made a few of these small Arts and Crafts tables from some reclaimed wood. At the time I only had a chance to brush on one coat of finish, which I did rather quickly. As a result, it felt a little rough to the touch, so today Leigh Ann and I went back and took care of the dust and bubbles that had made it feel so rough. It’s pretty easy to do, so take a quick look below.

Bubbles in our finish come from one of two places: air lurking inside the wood or from your brush. You can’t prevent air from escaping from the wood into your wet finish, but you can eliminate bubbles caused by your brush. First, don’t use foam brushes, as they contain air. Second, don’t work up a lather by brushing too vigorously.

Like bubbles, dust can also come from the wood. A dry cloth won’t remove all of it, so Leigh Ann used a bristle brush attachment on a vacuum to completely remove the dust from the pores of the wood.

Dust in the air is harder to control, but if you (1.) avoid working under active heating and cooling vents, (2.) don’t work outdoors, and (3.) don’t stir up dust in your work area, you can minimize how many particles land in your wet finish.

Even so, my first coat ended up with a few dried bubbles and a little dust, so Leigh Ann gave our table a light sanding with #220-grit sandpaper, then vacuumed off the dust.

She then brushed on a second coat of Minwax® Polycrylic® Protective Finish, brushing gently and smoothing out the finish with a few final, long smooth passes.

Her second coat dried without any bubbles and just a few specs of dust, so all it took to smooth it out completely was a lubricating oil, such as lemon oil, baby oil, or mineral oil, and any of these: fine steel wool, a fine synthetic pad, or #400-grit or finer sandpaper, your choice dipped in the oil to prevent it from leaving any scratches. Afterwards, just wipe away all of the oil.

Leigh Ann has always been a do-it-yourselfer, but never a professional finisher, and she would be the first to say how easy it was to get a finish that feels just like that of a professional.

Until next time,

Thanks for stopping by!