Getting high-gloss rubbed-out finish is one of the more challenging feats of woodworking. But the finish is hard to beat since it brings out the color and figure of the wood like no other.


In this short video, Sean Clarke, who has been a finisher since the age of 15, shows a speedy way to rub out a finish.


Start, with several coats of lacquer. Then sand with wet and dry fine-grit sandpaper starting at 600-grit. Alternate directions when leveling the finish. First sand with 600-grit paper, then progressively reduce the size of the scratches until they are small enough to be rubbed out with polishing compound. It is critical to remove all the scratches, and by alternating the sanding direction, it is much easier to see any scratches that remain from the previous paper. Work all the way up through 2000 grit.


Then the surface is ready for buffing. The traditional method is to use pumice and rottenstone but it's much faster to use an automotive polishing compound with a variable-speed electric polisher and sponge pad. Clarke uses 3M's Imperial Polishing Microfinishing Compound-Liquid (search for it online at:


Apply water to the surface with some of the polishing compound and start buffing.

Clarke finishes with a final polish by hand with a felt-based block and a cotton rag.

This process will leave a nice flat surface with high gloss.