The challenge of getting a gloss finish with a rattle can

Our workshop was mostly equipped a couple months ago and the work on our third-generation massage tool prototypes is now nearly complete.  There have been many lessons learned and a delay with each. One of the trickiest things I’ve struggled with is getting a gloss finish using Krylon clearcoat. I found a number of helpful how-to discussions on the Internet but  every project is different and I don’t think there is a perfect recipe that will serve everyone.  What I learned is that the crazy guy in a forum who said it required 18 coats was right.

Some of the mistakes I’ve made:

  1. waited too long to buy a respirator at Home Depot –  they’re inexpensive and work really really well.
  2. sprayed clearcoat outside on a windy day.
  3.  stuck too long with hand sanding (get an orbital sander).
  4.  wet sanding and alcohol cleanup made a sticky mess  even  though 24 hours had passed from the last  coat.
  5. wet sanding did not allow me to see the surface patterns.
  6.  sitting the prototype on its bottom for every coat caused an uneven thickness because of the curves involved
  7. 220 grit sanding in between coats was too aggressive.
  8. moving on to find grit sanding before and adequately fixed coat was developed, picture on the right –  notice  part of the surface shines where the code is thick enough and  the other part has a matte finish  where the coat was not thick enough.

So here’s the formula I’ve come up with:

  1. 4 light coats separated about eight minutes apart
  2. dry sand with 600 grit the next day
  3. 4 more light coats,  new position (upside down)
  4. dry sand with 600 grit the next day
  5. 4 more light coats,  new position (rightside up)
  6. dry sand with 600 grit the next day
  7. 4 more light coats,  new position (upside down)
  8. dry sand with 600 grit the next day
  9. 4 more light coats,  new position (upside down)
  10. dry sand with progressively finer grits to 2000
  11.  buff  with rubbing compound
  12.  buff with swirl remover

Other notes:

  1. 3M’s very fine foam backed sandpaper rocks!
  2. the foam sanding ball can be covered with foam backed sandpaper using a rubber band –  great combination!
  3. gluing layers of wood together works really well but do one layer at a time because  Elmer’s wood glue sets up way too fast

What’s next?  I’m waiting on the weather  to warm up to 50° so I can  spray more coats and waiting on a new hook and loop orbital sander and some  super fine grit discs to go with it. My hands became so sore from the sanding that I had to take a break for a couple days. often my neck and shoulders get sore from looking down as I work.  Fortunately, I’ve got just the right massage tools and they work every time!

Back to blog