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How do you get a smooth finish?


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I've been building a smit Rotterdam kit and have painted my hull now onto the super structure. 

 

I used epoxy to seal the wood and get an even surface. Then used primer. The hull looked great until actual paint went on and I could see flaws everwhere. So sanded it back till it looked smooth paint again and still flaws. Sand paint sand paint....fast forward 5 cans later and I'm finally happy with the result. Here are my results 

 

Surely I've been missing some key tricks here? Is there a way to get a good finish without using a million cans and hours of sanding? 

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That is an impressive result, Riotvan.

 

Perhaps sanding sealer rubbed down (and automotive putty to correct any defects) might be a better approach than epoxy. In any case, several rounds will be needed to achieve the kind of finish that you eventually got.

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13 hours ago, Beef Wellington said:

Looks great.  Was the primer that you used matte?  That would make seeing any imperfections that mush harder, as it looks like the finish has a satin finish which would show these much more.

Thanks. Yes the primer was halfords own brand and was Matt. Can you get glossy primer? The final paint is classed as Matt but has a good amount of sheen. 

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4 hours ago, druxey said:

Primer is always matte, to provide 'tooth' for the top coat(s) of paint. The best way to look for imperfections is a point source of light at a raking angle to the surface.

I did try to do that using the room light I feathered the edges of any filler and it always felt smooth to the touch but was still visible when painted. 

 

I guess it's just an experience thing that takes practice.  

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Some great advice but there is no short cut to getting a super smooth finish. I built Billings Fairmount Alpine using epoxy as a sealer and I too used Halfords Matt primer to see the imperfections. Any imperfections were filled using a fine two pack polyester car filler. It just takes hours of patience which you obviously have.
 

The finish you have achieved is fantastic and a real credit to you.
 

Here’s my effort after probably the same hours that you put in.  Looks about the same I would say 3153F48C-3366-4D43-92B4-A6BDE2246AA0.thumb.jpeg.ed347c0267d18150301989e6c1783f2b.jpegCCA774F8-B940-43A8-A024-38F9E4D53B1E.thumb.jpeg.d1f4ec37395f0d72835aab3f2f03cf96.jpeg

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16 hours ago, No Idea said:

Some great advice but there is no short cut to getting a super smooth finish. I built Billings Fairmount Alpine using epoxy as a sealer and I too used Halfords Matt primer to see the imperfections. Any imperfections were filled using a fine two pack polyester car filler. It just takes hours of patience which you obviously have.
 

The finish you have achieved is fantastic and a real credit to you.
 

Here’s my effort after probably the same hours that you put in.  Looks about the same I would say 3153F48C-3366-4D43-92B4-A6BDE2246AA0.thumb.jpeg.ed347c0267d18150301989e6c1783f2b.jpegCCA774F8-B940-43A8-A024-38F9E4D53B1E.thumb.jpeg.d1f4ec37395f0d72835aab3f2f03cf96.jpeg

Your model looks museum quality to me, that's an amazing finish and a fair bit better than my effort I'd say. This is my 1st wooden boat coming from plastic 1/350 scale kits previously. 

 

I'm thinking of doing a scratch build next and will apply the many things I've learnt so far. Hopfully I'll get closer to a museum quality model next time. But for this current build I've got to move on to the next stage or it's never getting finished. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I was building a small J Class model, and wanting a smooth finish.  It was a white finish, white is notoriously difficult to get coverage without lots of coats.  Not sure how many I ended up with; but it was a LOT. All of the paint was acrylic.  What I ended up doing was:

  • I hand brushed the model with a cheap, indoor acrylic.  It was very rough.  I think I put on 3 coats.
  • I then sanded that until it was smooth.  This left a few spots bare; but not to worry.
  • I then air brushed enough coats until I had very good coverage, it all looked white
  • Then I sanded it, starting fairly fine, as the finish was pretty smooth.  Just not "really smooth".  I started with 600
  • And progressed to 12,000. 

I really did not see much effect past 4,000 and since then I rarely use 12,000 anymore, I usually only go to 2,000 or maybe 4,000. 

 

Interestingly, for some reason I thought I should shoot another thin coat after the final 12,000.  The surface repelled the paint like it was coated with oil.  I suspect that, even after it dried, there would have been little to no adhesion.

 

Since then, I've adopted the following for smooth finishes over wood

1) Sand surface to at least 2000 grit

2) Two coats of wood sealer

3) Sand with 1000 to 2000

4) Paint; airbrush; at least 3 coats

5) Sand with 1000

6) Clear coat.  Either gloss or matte, whatever the final effect is that I'm looking for

7) Sand with 1000, to 4000

 

I'm still fine tuning this.  I don't think I need to go to 2000 in steps 1 and 3, but that is yet to be proven

 

Regards 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I do a lot of auto body work in my shop besides building the electric vehicles.   after the base work is done as you think it is, you can buy a can of sandable  primer. comes in gray and brown, put on from front to back , no X,ing it . then sand it smooth when you think its OK, Its usually not. Then take a can of black lacquer spray, spray the area fast to give it a light coat, we call this a guide coat, when you sand, the high spots will be gone, the low spots will remain. fill or sand. till its all smooth, your color coat will be very smooth, I keep most of the plank lines visible, not to look like a all fiberglass hull. if you want a high gloss look spray the color coat with clear, about 4 coats, then you can wet sand with 1,000 Grit wet /dry paper then buff.  It will look like its wet, just like a new car look, . Sand to much or to hard and it will burn through.. its only for large solid areas 

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