PTA West Boards


Preventing Brush Marks in Polyurethane

When I brush polyurethane finish I always end up with brush marks in the finish. What can I do to solve this problem?

Most oil based polyurethane finishes are too thick to brush straight out of the can. Thicker finishes take longer to “flow together” and even out. The problem you are having is that the brush marks aren’t flowing together before the finish dries.

The solution to this problem is to thin the finish 10%-15% with mineral spirits or paint thinner. The thinned finish will take longer to cure and allow more time for the brush marks to disappear and bubbles to escape.



Staining Raised Panel Doors

The center panel on a raised panel door is designed to expand and contract with seasonal moisture changes. Sometimes a panel that was stained in a humid environment will show an unfinished line when moved to a less-humid environment. This unfinished line can appear around the edge of the center panel and detract from the overlook of the door.

To prevent this problem you can stain/finish the edges of the panel before assembling. The door assembly can then be glued, sanded, and finished without any worries.










Sanding to an Even Surface

When working with large panels, it can often be difficult to ensure the entire surface is sanded evenly. A little extra time in one corner of the board with a power sander can leave hills and valleys. These defects may stand out when finished, especially when finished with a glossy finish.

An easy way to make sure the surface is sanded smoothly and evenly is to mark the entire board with a pencil. The marks will disappear as you sand, revealing areas that still need attention.



This tip can also be used to level a board. Use a straight edge such as a framing square to identify the “high areas” on the board and mark them with a pencil. Sand through the marks and repeat the process until the board is level.

Nailing without Splitends

Driving a nail near the end of a board can often result in a split. As the nail is driven into the wood it forces the wood fibers apart, causing the grain to split.

An old carpenters trick is to flatten the tip of the nail with a hammer. The flattened tip allows the nail to “chop” through the wood “Crushing” the wood fibers rather than splitting them.


Left = normal nail.  Right = flattened nail

This trick is also useful when installing molding and trim.



Doweling Tip

This tip will help you drive in a dowel without any problems:

Have you ever had trouble driving a dowel into its hole? Quite often air and glue inside the hole can prevent the dowel from sliding in easily. To prevent this resistance you can cut a slit into the side of the dowel. This will give the air and glue a channel to escape the hole.


Use a bandsaw to cut the groove in the dowel. For safety, be sure to use a clamp to hold the dowel when you cut the groove.




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