How to Finish Oak Plywood

Written by wade shaddy
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How to Finish Oak Plywood
Finish oak properly to bring out its inherent beauty. (Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Oak veneer plywood is expensive and should be finished properly to bring out its inherent beauty. It is typically used on cabinets, entertainment centres or anywhere the look of traditional hardwood is desired. This is a higher quality plywood which should not be painted, but instead should have clear lacquer as a top coat. And to enhance the grain pattern, it's a good idea to apply a suitable stain to the surface before you apply the lacquer finish coat.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • Sanding block
  • Stain
  • Cloth
  • Lacquer
  • Pressure pot spray gun
  • 180-grit sandpaper
  • Clean rag or tack cloth

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  1. 1

    Sand the plywood lightly with 100 grit sandpaper on a hand block. Sand with steady long strokes with the grain of the wood. Don't push hard, just remove any residual fibres, smooth and blend the surface. Run your hand over the plywood. When it feels uniformly smooth without any rough spots you are finished.

  2. 2

    Apply a single coat of wood stain to the plywood with a soft cloth. Dip the cloth into the stain and rub it into the wood using circular motions until the wood has a consistent stained colour. When the cloth gets dry, apply more stain to it. Let the stain dry according to the manufacturer's directions.

  3. 3

    Spray the plywood with a pressure pot spray gun. Spray bands of lacquer up and down the plywood with the grain, overlapping each band of lacquer by one inch. Spray until the surface of the plywood has a wet look. Do not pool the lacquer on the surface. Allow the lacquer to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions.

  4. 4

    Sand the surface of the lacquer by hand with 180 grit sandpaper on a hand block. Gently sand with the grain until the surface has a dry white powder all over it. Wipe the surface clean.

  5. 5

    Spray the plywood again, this time with a heavier coat. Spray bands of lacquer up and down the plywood, overlapping each previous band by one inch. When the plywood has a consistent wet look and reflects light evenly across the surface you are finished. Allow the lacquer to dry thoroughly before handling the piece.

Tips and warnings

  • Use standard semigloss lacquer for best results. You can use varnish or polyurethane, but it takes longer to dry and it somewhat more difficult to use.
  • Always wear breathing and eye protection when working with wood and lacquer.

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