What is everyone's "raw wood" finishing process?

so, i’ve made my first couple of hard wood boxes (along with a whole pile of simple boxes with BB). i think my finishing still needs some perfection, but i’m not a woodworker and never have done this kind of work before, so i’m reaching out to see what other people are doing.

first thing i discovered: do your sanding before assembly if you don’t want to lose your contrast fingers. seems obvious, but i thought i could light sand enough to avoid, but the reality is i needed too much sanding to get away with that.

in fact, my plan for the next box (80th birthday present for my uncle made out of some really nice 1/4" crotch figured walnut) will be sanding before cutting down to about 220, i think. then just a light 400ish sand after cutting and before assembly. and hopefully no more sanding except between finish layers (depending on the finish).

first box i did out of 1/4" walnut, i used danish oil. left on one coat too long and it got a little gummy (distraction: bad). real PITA to sand that layer out of it.

so what is everyone else using to finish out their hardwood (or plywood) boxes? and what’s your process for sanding? what are you using to seal/finish after you assemble and what’s your process for that? what has good ROI for finish work?

i have my file set up for my uncle’s present. plan on sanding the raw wood tomorrow night and maybe cutting Wednesday or Thursday. which leave me this weekend and next week to finish before we leave the Sat before thanksgiving. so thoughts/advice would be welcome.


I try to do what sanding I can before putting in the laser. have it ready for going straight from laser to assembly to lacquer.


how many layers of lacquer do you do? sanding at 320 in between? brush or spray?

Most of the stuff I do of that sort is spray. Sanding between or after a couple coats, then overspray.


you only need to sand lacquer between coats if you get a very crappy coat with it. unlike poly or water based finishes lacquer will “melt” the previous layer and mix in and build up. Water based and poly you sand to smooth out the finish and get good adhesion between layers because it just builds on top and doesn’t mix in the same way. Lacquer is designed for spray and it works much better that way.

for plywood I sand to 220, water based finish for one coat, sand again with 220 to get rid of the raised grain and then a second coat. Of course that isnt fine wood working, but it’s my prep for “I’m making plywood fridge magnets ect”. Lacquer would be faster but cost more and mostly I don’t have a spray booth for big sheets.

for hardwoods if it doesn’t need to be super shiny or super strong I like things like tung oil


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