Scratch-Free Rub-Through Finish

Tips on sanding through a paint finish without scratching, for an antique look. January 13, 2006

I'm doing a rub-through on some black legs (to get a worn antique look) and keep getting incidental scratches from the sandpaper in the surrounding paint. What am I doing wrong?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor M:
Bend the paper right and work by hand, not with an orbital sander. Or maybe afterward sand the whole piece with a finer sandpaper to get it to an even shine with no scratches.

From contributor D:
What is your finish schedule? Materials?

From the original questioner:
On this particular project, client wanted primer, paint and no finish.

From contributor D:
Is there any particular reason not to apply a clearcoat? I would use at least 220 or finer by hand and clearcoat over that. I wouldn't think primer as the topcoat would be durable enough. Clearcoating will help hide the surface scratches.

From the original questioner:
I realize that a topcoat would hide the scratches, but the client is dead set against it.

From contributor M:
Then you have to be extra careful to sand all with fine paper. Do a wax over it.

From contributor W:
I like to use lacquer thinner on a rag and rub off the finish. If it is a pre-cat or post-cat, you would have to do your rub within a few hours. If I am doing a painted rub through, I clear seal the wood, paint with color, rub through and then clear topcoat.