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Matching Professional Cabinet Shop Finish? What is it?

Mettius_'s picture

I recently had Woodharbor cabinets installed and have built matching cherry overlay doors for the appliances I installed (panel ready fridge and dishwasher).  But now to finish them... what kind of finish is it likly to be on the woodharbor cabinets?  It is a "natural finish" looks a satin sheen.

There is also some minor damage to one of the face frame rails next to the dishwasher I'd like to fix, preferably with something brush on so I can just redo this one piece.

What do big cabinet shops use? What is the best way for a home/garage woodworker to match. I do have an HVLP spray setup, but no proper spray booth, so anything requiring explosion proof fans is probably out for spraying. Plus I cannot spray the installed cabinet rail.

HowardAcheson's picture

Many, if not most, (post #152957, reply #1 of 9)

Many, if not most, professional finishers of kitchen cabinetry use two part catalyzed finishes these days.  This finishes are more durable than single part finishes and dry/cure much faster than NC lacquer or varnishes.


Best way to find out what is on your cabinets is to call the manufacturer.

Howie.........
SteveSchoene's picture

It's really not possible to (post #152957, reply #2 of 9)

It's really not possible to dublicate their finish schedule.  They typically use a spray stain--which you might be able to approximate, but the finishing steps, not so much, since they use a sprayed catalyzed sealer over which they apply catalzed conversion varnish which is oven baked to cure.  Since those catalyzed finishes involve explosive and likely toxic solvents that may well required closed system spray booths that allow capturing the solvents for proper disposal. 

Many conversion varnishes just won't allowany other finish material to bond over them--I would contact the company about a "retouch" kit. 

It would likely have been easier, if not cheaper, to have them build,and finish the appliance panels.   You might consider making contrasting appliance panels that are noticeably enough different in coloration  that a there is no though you tried for a match and missed. 

One other thought came to mind.  You might inquire of your dealer if the panels you made could be sent to the factory to be finished.  (The crown molding for my kitchen was sourced locally, but sent to the manufacturer for finishing.) 

I suspect you have two routes you could follow to get close.  To achieve similar levels of durability to the conversion varnish I would use an oil based varnish--probably applied in a wipe on fashion.  You likely would need to start with a relatively light colored varnish (soya/alkyd) such as Pratt & Lambert 38,  Applied in "sets" of three, with two sets, you would be able to rub to the appropriate sheen.  You might also achieve the desired sheen with a satin finish, but you might have to mix sheens to approximate the factory sheen--A&L 38 does come in a "dull", "satin" and "gloss". 

The other alternative would be to spray a waterborne finish desisgned specifically for spraying such as those from Target or Enduro.  These don't require specialized stray booth facilities and do dry fast enough to avoid some of the dust issues that can arise with oil based finishes.  These would likely require a bit different stain under them since they, mostly, add little color to the wood.  They won't offer the same protective properties as the factory conversion varnish, or the oil based varnish. 

 

Test your finish on scrap, FIRST, or risk having to scrap your finish.

Mettius_'s picture

Their is no stain to match I (post #152957, reply #3 of 9)

Their is no stain to match I ordered everything in natural. Matching durability I'm not so concerned with, just getting "close enough" with it to look decent.


Brush on Poly wouldn't work?


I was going to have the panels done by the cabinet place, but they wanted $1800 for three doors. The rest of the cabinets only cost $2600. I figured it was time some of my woodworking hobby investment recovered on some of the tool costs. :)

SteveSchoene's picture

I would not recommend brush (post #152957, reply #6 of 9)

I would not recommend brush on poly.  It will yellow more quickly than the factory finish so what is right now may well not be a year or two from now.  In addition, matching the sheen will be more difficult because poly ( I assume you mean oil based.) is more difficult to rub out to an even sheen, yet alone a specific sheen than non-poly varnish.  If you prefer brushing to wipe on then the Pratt & Lambert 38 or another alkyd/soya varnish will work just fine without thinning.  This will yellow less than the poly, almost all of which is linseed oil based. 

Brushed on varnish is almost certainly going to need rubbing out, so you should get best results with gloss, and then rub out to the desired sheen.  You may need to test several brands of rubbing compound to get to the proper sheen. 

Test your finish on scrap, FIRST, or risk having to scrap your finish.

Mettius_'s picture

I actually assumed I should (post #152957, reply #8 of 9)

I actually assumed I should use a water base as it would yellow less.

When I mentioned brush on I was just differentiationg between spray on and not.

When you say wipe on vs brush on, what is the difference in the product (vinish)?

Mettius_'s picture

Their is no stain to match I (post #152957, reply #7 of 9)

There is no stain to match as I ordered everything in natural. I hope that makes it easier that is.

Matching durability I'm not so concerned with, just getting "close enough" with it to look decent.


Brush on Poly wouldn't work?


I was going to have the panels done by the cabinet place, but they wanted $1800 for three doors. The rest of the cabinets only cost $2600. I figured it was time some of my woodworking hobby investment recovered on some of the tool costs. :)

sapwood's picture

Try something... try anything (post #152957, reply #4 of 9)

Brush on poly just may work. It all depends on how "close enough" is. Do some tests with a variety of finishes you like and are comfortable using. Do these tests on scrap wood that are off-cuts from the doors you have made.

hammer1's picture

It can be helpful to know (post #152957, reply #5 of 9)

It can be helpful to know what the manufacturer used but it's really more about matching the sheen or coming close. You don't need a spray booth or explosion proof fan to spray a small amount of oil poly or lacquer. There is a visible difference, particularly between a water based and solvent based product, on bare wood. If you have used these finishes, you should have a good idea which would be closer just by looking. Solvent finishes impart an amber color compared to water based. Take a guess and make up some large samples. You may have success with something ordinary off the shelf. Recently, I got close enough by mixing half satin and half semi gloss. The satin alone was too flat and the semi was too bright. Maybe you'll get lucky right out of the can. Make sure you check the samples day and night and from different angles.

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

brownman's picture

Not all cabinet shops use the (post #152957, reply #9 of 9)

Not all cabinet shops use the same finishing products and methods of application. Ask the shop you got them from what they use. Her where I live in So. Cal many cabinet shops, including myself use a pre-catalyzed clear lacquer finish and spray it on with any number of different type spraying outfits. The brand of lacquer I use is made by Val Spar. I have had good success  applying it with a cheap HVLP  gravity feed spray gun from Harbor Freight, costing me less than $20.00 on sale. In fact a gallon of this stuff costs more than my gun. It sprays beautifully and lays out nice and flat and it drys so fast it's almost difficult to get it to run. I use it in conjunction with my regular air compressor and a few filters to make sure no moisture or oils get in to foul the finish. As long as I dilute the lacquer by about 20% with lacquer thinner I don't have any problems. But then it's almost always dry here and the temperature doesn't vary much from season to season. It's not usually necessary for me to set up a spray booth if  I spray on a fairly clam day ( slight breeze only),since the lacquer drys almost immediately.  I usually go with a satin finish. That way if I get any overspray or dust on the finish I can rub it out with  a 0000 steel wool pad and have a very nice smooth flawless finish, with little work. Painters cost way to much money to do their job ,as you've found out ,so it pays for you to spend a little time experimenting to find out what works for you. I spray my stuff before it's installed and do a touch up with a spray can after installation. I hang one piece at a time from a line or pipe strechted  between two ladders and then move them after spraying to another line,  away from the spray area, so I don't get over spray on them.  Works really good for me. At least this system works well when your using clear lacquer or clear lacquer over a stain. Hope this helps!