I have a bay window that has been finished with three coats of spar varnish over a stain to match the room’s woodwork. The window has a seat, ceiling and the usual window trim. Despite filtering the air during the drying cycle, the last coat of varnish picked up dust particles. I would like to smooth out the finish — at least on the seat — but retain a relatively high gloss finish. What would you recommend?
Michael Dresdner: Rub out the finish. The truth is, it is almost impossible to get a slow drying finish, such as varnish, to cure without some dust nibs settling into it, even in what seems to be a clean room.
Let the finish cure completely — six weeks or more if possible. The longer it cures, the easier it will be to rub. Sand the surface smooth very lightly with 600 or 800 grit sandpaper — sanding just enough to get the dust nibs out. Then resand with 1000 and 1200 grit paper.
Once the surface is completely smooth, rub it up to gloss using automotive rubbing compound, which is somewhat coarse, followed by polishing compound, which is much finer. You will find many brands and types at any auto supply store. (I like the cheap No. 7 brand that comes in a flat, round plastic tin.) Follow the directions on the container — you rub a finish on wood the same way you do one on a car, only a bit more gently.