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How to Finish Reclaimed Wood Like a Pro

John Malecki

How to Finish Reclaimed Wood Like a Pro

Finishing Reclaimed Wood for High-Quality Wood Furniture

Tips & Tricks
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7
min read
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Mar 17, 2017

Not only is recycling wood good for the environment, but it adds a lot of character and history to nearly any piece you design. These two factors combine to create a real woodworking zeitgeist, which is why I want to take the time to show you guys how to properly finish reclaimed wood.

If you want to build high-end reclaimed wood furniture, you have to know how to finish reclaimed wood like the pros. Finishing reclaimed wood can be the trickiest part of working with these materials, but with a few simple tools it is easy to go from “standard” to a professional-grade finish in 4 easy steps. So check it out -- I talk about preparation, application, and finishing techniques in the video below!

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How to Finish Reclaimed Wood: Overview

What You Need to Know for FInishing Reclaimed Wood

  1. Prepare the Surface
  2. Sand the Surface
  3. Clean the Surface
  4. Apply your Finish

Tools for Finishing Reclaimed Wood

When Learning How to Finish Reclaimed Wood, Keep these Tools On-Hand

How to Finish Reclaimed Wood: The Step-by-Step

Finishing Reclaimed Wood - Prep the Surface

This stage is the first and perhaps the most important step in finishing reclaimed wood -- AKA, this is where you make your money. You’re going to want to remove all of the dirt and grime from the wood. But you do not want to eliminate the saw marks and character. The trick is using the right tool. I recommend the Makita Brush Sander and/or an Angle Grinder with a Wire Wheel.

FInishing Reclaimed Wood - Sand the Surface

After you remove the heavy dust from your prep stage, its time for the finer stuff. Use your random orbit sander to sand the surface to a nice 220 grit finish. You want the surface to be smooth, but do not press too hard and grind into the wood. The key here is to not discolor the material. Let it look rough and dingy, but make it nice and smooth to the touch -- much like myself.

Finishing Reclaimed Wood - Clean the Surface

Simply blow off or vacuum all the particles you can of the surface for a nice consistent clean area to finish. Removing as much dust and debris as possible is key here. You want to make sure you’re not getting little parts and particles in your finish. I use a combo of my air gun and vac. But if you’re brave and wanna spend a few extra dollars, try a Tac Cloth -- this will really give you the clean surface you’re looking for. 

Finishing Reclaimed Wood – Apply the Finish 

For your final step, pick the finish of your choosing and go to work! I like two products: Minwax Poly Acrylic and General Finishes Endurovar. Both have a nice high build and are able to be smoothed out to a high-grade professional finish!

If you’re spraying I would suggest a medium tip and a 1/2 overlay. Make sure you’re not spraying too much and stay about 6″ -10″ above the surface, holding the gun parallel while spraying. I like both of these finishes because they dry fast and clean up very easily. This is huge because if you spray and it sucks to clean up every time, you won't want to do it and will leave your projects looking rough and unfinished. But I am telling you -- this stuff makes it cake.

NOTE: If you do not have a sprayer, use a synthetic brush and thin coats to build your finish. I see lots of mistakes come when people glop it on and let it sit and coagulate. DON’T DO THAT! Sand between coats with 400 grit and BOOM -- you now know how to finish reclaimed wood like a pro. GOOD LUCK!


I hope you enjoyed this build. Share your reclaimed wood projects on Instagram with @John_Malecki, I would love to see how you build!

Check out some of my reclaimed wood video projects HERE, or check them out below:

Download the Plan

Want to try this build out for yourself? Download the digital plan now for step-by-step instructions, measurements, and a detailed look at how to punch this project in the face.

Tips & TricksReclaimed Wood
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Tips & Tricks
|
7
min read
|
Mar 17, 2017
|
Sponsored by
John Malecki

I used to be an offensive lineman in the NFL, Now I run my own furniture business and am completely self taught. In my videos and posts you'll see a variety of wood and metal work as well as some tips and tricks. Enjoy!