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Six Steps to a Beautiful Finish on Your Cabinets

by Greg Keefer

A beautiful surface is a sight to behold on your cabinets. It's possible to get a finish as smooth as glass that gets compliments from every visitor to your home. The best part is that it's not as hard as you might think.

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Getting a Perfect Finish on Your Cabinets: Six Simple Steps

Here's what to do:

  1. Sand the cabinets. Use 220-grit paper if the wood is going to be stained. Make sure there are no scuff marks or visible imperfections. Every trace of sawdust will have to taken off with a tack rag or blown off with compressed air.
  2. Staining. Let the cabinets dry for a day or two after applying an oil-based stain.
  3. Apply polyurethane. This is where patience and finesse come into play. Apply a thin coat of polyurethane to the end grain of the wood. After a few minutes and up to several coats, the pores of the wood will stop absorbing the polyurethane. Apply the polyurethane at this point across the grain and then again with the grain. Wait a day or two before proceeding. Your project is well under way to providing the finest finish you've ever applied.
  4. Sand the surface of the wood again. Use a light 150-grain sandpaper using care not to go through the dried coat of polyurethane. Apply another couple coats of polyurethane and sand in between each coat. Squeegee off the last coat and then lightly sand it again.
  5. Finishing coats of polyurethane. Spray the cabinets liberally and let them dry. Don't sand between these coats.
  6. The clincher. Apply 3M's Imperial Hand Glaze with a soft cloth and some pressure. This is an auto detailing product, but it should give you beautiful results.

Variations of this process also work. Experiment as you go and reassess the results until you're satisfied.

About the Author

Greg Keefer has been a do-it-yourselfer with lots of experience in how to do things right and how to do them wrong. He enjoys sharing his experience with the hope of helping others to

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