Buffing to High Gloss

Tips on getting that high, mirror-like shine. August 9, 2005

We recently got some maple countertops back from our painter who clear-coated them with ICA post-cat urethane and used 3M rubbing compound and a rotary buffer. I've never seen such a mirror-like finish, and when the customer saw it, he was very impressed.

My question is, would this work on Duravar or lacquer? We generally use satin per customer request, but it would be nice to be able to buff some stuff to hi gloss if the owner wanted shiny it post-install. Any help is appreciated.

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor D:
Yes, you can do it with lacquer or Duravar. It will not be quite as good as the acrylic urethane, but it will be good. However, it's not as simple as buying a Makita buffer and some Menzerna compounds. In order to get the effect you describe, you need to flatten the finish, and doing that isn't that simple.

The use of a Stuhr or National Detroit dual pad straight line sander and wet sandpaper gets you started. Follow this by P3000 Trizact on a random orbit then P4000 Abralon then Menzerna 2L with a wool pad followed by Menzerna 16 and a yellow foam pad. Finish this off with Menzerna intensive polish and a black foam pad, and you'll have them wetting themselves. It’s best to use gloss materials rather than satin to get the full effect. Satin will work, it just will not be as clear.

From contributor C:
The only think that buffs better than two part polyurethane is polyester. The conversion varnishes will be almost impossible to get that same super wet look and will be at least twice as hard to achieve something close. And to do it on site after install, it will be even harder.

From contributor T:

I use 3M's polishing compounds on CV and get outstanding results. I use 60 sheen CV and cut to no more than 1000 or 1200 grit. The cutting compound takes out any remaining sand marks. And the finish has to be absolutely level. I can compound the finish after only 8 hours of dry time with no problem. 3M sells a Perfect - It 2 kit that has everything you need.

From contributor C:
CV will never look as good as two part poly, and is more work to get something close, so I don't bother. I use it everyday for my low end work.

From contributor J:
Rubbing out a lacquer finish on furniture is just like doing a car. I use 2000 grit wet/dry paper by 3M and lots of water to level the finish. Then I buff it with a buffer and compound.