I have just varnished pine furniture and due to my complete beginner skills, I did not paint it correctly. (I went over my previous strokes after the varnish was tacky and it now has a rough finish.) I do understand now that the fibers swelling and standing out are also contributing to this roughness.

Please advise what sandpaper grit I should use before doing the 2nd coat and then what grit before 3rd coat.

Thank you

2 Answers 2


1] Wait. It may take days or weeks for the varnish to harden enough to sand without it "balling up" or being "gummy". This is the most important thing. 2] Test it gently from time to time with 120 or 150 grit until it sands cleanly, no gumminess. Then scuff the whole thing down gently, just knock off the high spots and ridges, avoid breaking through to bare wood. 3] Lay on another coat, try to brush in one direction, "flow" the varnish on and don't worry about small streaks, varnish is "self levelling" if it's not too cold. 4] Follow the same steps using 220 grit. This should be a decent finish. 5] Depending how far you want to go you can work up in stages to 1200 grit and polishing compound, but that's extreme. 6] When brushing varnish, what you did wasn't entirely wrong. Cross brushing then linear brushing to "work" the varnish onto/into the wood is good but you have to do it fast before the varnish starts to "set up". Good luck and enjoy.


A few things I forgot to mention: 1] Hand finishing is an art, not a science 2]you can repeat any step such as 120 or 220 if you feel the surface isn't ready for the next step 3] varnish is self levelling providing you give it enough time to level before it starts to set up, once again you have to work fast 4] It's all about film build, thickness. With enough coats you can cover anything but it's faster to start with a smooth surface. On porous wood a grain filler will help a little 5] Avoid sharp corners, round them a bit during finish sanding. A sharp corner makes for the thinnest film build and is really easy to break through when sanding for the next coat 6] The first coat is usually thinned a little to make it flow better and sink in 7] After the 120 coat you can wet sand if you wish, tends to give a finer finish, especially to the final coat 8] An alternative to brushing is to thin the varnish and add a little linseed oil, or just buy a rubbing oil/ varnish, sand it on with wet type sandpaper starting at 120 or so and working finer until you are happy. The last coat can be rubbed on with a lint free cloth.

  • 1
    You should have edited your first question, not added a second one. Please do so, delete this one, and for the love of all things holy use some paragraph breaks. :)
    – isherwood
    Commented Oct 6, 2016 at 17:44

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