Finishing expert Tim Leahy has spent more than 10 years working as a foreman on a crew that restores historic mansions and homes in Newport, R.I. For Leahy, the best results for finishing furniture-grade trim mean more than just applying the stain; meticulous prep work is the only way to start. First, sand all surfaces with a sequence of progressively finer sandpapers. Next, apply the stain in a two-step process: brushing it on, then wiping it down with a clean rag. Third, fill in the grain to accent the grain and to smooth the surface of open-grain woods. Finally, create a topcoat by brushing or spraying on three to four coats of finish. This article includes a sidebar about the secret of repairing blemishes.
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