Gloss = Harder Finish than Satin? - Router Forums
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-17-2013, 02:43 PM Thread Starter
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Default Gloss = Harder Finish than Satin?

I'm currently finishing some cedar chests. I want to end up with a nice satin, but my uncle (a 30+ year cabinetmaker) told me that the hardest finish comes from gloss finish. He told me to put one or two coats of gloss polyuerethane on and then a final top coat of satin.

It's my understanding that the only difference between a gloss and satin finish is that there are flattening agents suspended in the satin in order to break of light, thus reducing its glossiness.

My question is this: does a gloss finish end up harder than a satin finish?

and if so,

Could anyone describe the chemical/scientific reason why?
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-19-2013, 05:33 AM
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As a Cabinetmaker I always prefer a satin to a gloss as the gloss is just too hard to live with. every finger mark shows, I don't know what your Uncle is referring to, hardness comes from the type of lacquer used as some are harder than others, as long as the finish is done the same with the same number of coats then the shine factor is not linked to hardness, you should check with him and make sure that you understand exactly what he said. NGM
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-19-2013, 06:52 AM
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It has been my experience that when a woodworker with 30 years experience tells you something, it is time to stop overthinking the issue and listen. They are usually correct.
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-19-2013, 09:55 AM Thread Starter
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Oh I listened, but I want to understand. I like to know at least the high points of the science that is the 'why' of what we're doing.

My uncle has in the past said "make these 30 cuts," and I have. It's more valuable for me to get "make these 30 cuts because we're using a table saw to cut a custom groove to fit that piece over there."

Maybe I'm just a science geek, haha.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-19-2013, 10:48 AM
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Jonathon; aside from the gloss vs satin aspect I strongly suspect there's tremendous variation from one manufactures product line to the competitions'.
Even within a specific company's products there are recommendations as to the appropriateness of individual formulations for specific applications ie floors as opposed to trim.
Just too general a statement in my opinion.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-19-2013, 12:07 PM
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From a forum that I participate in:

When I do a satin finish on furniture, I always start with high gloss and knock it back. Basically, high gloss has more hardeners in it so its tougher than satins or semis. I do 0000 steel wool first. Don't just take it out of the package and use, as is. You need to unwind it and then fold into a flat pad. Use a straight flat backer so you don't put finger grooves into the finish. After that, if I need a finer cut, I go to wet sanding between 600 and 2000 grit. I start at 600 and move to finer grits depending on my own personal judgement. Everyone has a slightly different view of "satin".

And:


Also, the steel wool thing... Sometimes you get a big fat strand in your wad. You've really got to be careful and pay attention for that. If you miss that you will end up with big ugly scratches in your finish that will be difficult to remove.

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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-19-2013, 02:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jficke13 View Post
I'm currently finishing some cedar chests. I want to end up with a nice satin, but my uncle (a 30+ year cabinetmaker) told me that the hardest finish comes from gloss finish. He told me to put one or two coats of gloss polyuerethane on and then a final top coat of satin.

It's my understanding that the only difference between a gloss and satin finish is that there are flattening agents suspended in the satin in order to break of light, thus reducing its glossiness.

My question is this: does a gloss finish end up harder than a satin finish?

and if so,

Could anyone describe the chemical/scientific reason why?

I have heard this before too. Whether it is true or not I don't know. I did a quick search to see what I could find and one response was that gloss has more hardeners in it. Maybe. If in doubt contact the manufacturer and ask them.

I did see other reasons for using gloss under satin and that was because it gives better looking depth to the finish.

Someone I consider a master woodworker once told me that a master woodworker is not someone who never makes mistakes. He is someone who is able to cover them up so that no one can tell.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-19-2013, 06:53 PM
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Very interesting discussion and interested to read more as it's posted. In my short 40 years of working with wood in one way or another, I've also heard and applied your Uncles insight. It has been a discussion I've listened to since forever and as a general rule, most people go with the gloss harder concept. Yes, things most likely have changed in the last 40 years which is why I'm so interested in following this. Ha, ha... keep me POSTED!
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-19-2013, 07:05 PM
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One of the yachts I used to race on was owned by a retired house painter. He re-coated the interior himself and all the edges, likely to be touched or rubbed, were gloss and all the panels, satin.

As I recall, he said that was because of the wear factor.

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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 07-19-2013, 07:39 PM
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I had no idea. I have been rolling, brushing, and spraying many coats for at least 30 years, and this is a new one on me. I will follow it, but in just my experience I have never noticed a difference, BUT I never really thought about it.
SOOO< I went to Sherwin Williams, where I buy most of my product and they say there is no difference in the hardness, just the look.
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