Fisheye Elimination Additive

Advice on using a fisheye elimination additive successfully, without ill effects. March 16, 2015

Question (WOODWEB Member) :
I recently posted on painting oak cabinets. I started this project by cleaning everything with tsp very well. Filled the grain with MH Patch and sanded. I started spraying the doors with the lacquer primer and the backs look okay (will need a couple of coats). With the fronts however I noticed a lot of fisheyes on some doors I am thinking something was still on the wood - maybe grease or wax? Can I go over this with an oil based stain kill primer such as Zinsser? Does anyone have any suggestions?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor::
After sanding the fisheyes out, add a little Smoothie (or equivalent product) to your primer and topcoats. It will eliminate the fisheyes, though you have to use it in every coat you apply.


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From the original questioner:
Paul, I read about the smoothie and the recent posts about it to use it or not contaminating the shop, etc. I just tried shellac on the worst piece and then re-sprayed and they did come back. Maybe I did not let it dry enough or put it on too heavy? I tried some lighter coats of shellac after sanding piece and will let it dry overnight .


From Paul Snyder, forum technical advisor::
The rumor that Smoothie contaminates the shop or your spray equipment is an old wives' tale. I use it every time I refinish kitchen cabinets or dining tables to avoid the problem with fisheyes. The rest of the time I don't use it and I never had a problem. Just clean your spray equipment well after use with lacquer thinner or similar solvent. Trying to clean the contaminate from the wood that's causing the fisheyes, or seal it in, is too unreliable and I don't even try anymore. Smoothie contains silicone and lowers the surface tension of the finish to match the low surface tension that's causing the craters in the finish. It's easy to use and consistently does a great job.



From the original questioner:
Thanks Paul I will give it a try.


From Contributor R:
Just adding to Paul's posting - I liked to use gloves whenever I used Smoothie and threw them away after each use. You don't want to touch anything else when using it as it may contaminate an otherwise "clean" project. Keep in mind that Smoothie could possibly change the sheen of your top coat. It may increase the gloss. Use it sparingly - a few drops go a long way. If you overdo its use you will end up with a greasy look which will be a problem.


From contributor J:
If you contact 3M, who makes Smoothie, their techs will tell you to use a lot of drops but Paulís and Robertís advice works well. I've been told by another finisher that adding a lot of Smoothie weakens the finish. Smoothie ends my fisheye problem.


From contributor M:
I have not used Smoothie but I have used several other fish-eye killer type products. They do not contaminate your shop. I am the lead finisher at a fairly busy custom cabinet shop and we have to use it once in a while in our equipment. We simply flush the spray pumps out with old wash thinner, discard the thinner, and replace it with clean thinner before the overnight storage, and all is well. I've never once had a problem with contamination from using fish-eye killer products.