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Car painter to the rescue

Some years ago, I was working in a shop that was participating in a "Street of Dreams" project. What this meant was that we had to front a cabinet installation. In exchange, we got a lot of exposure and, if and when the house sold, paid.

At that time, the hottest thing in cabinet design was what was called the wet look: A super high-gloss finish, typically in a solid, opaque color. We had designed some very contemporary cabinets with lots of rounded corners. The only problem was that we had never produced such a finish before. The wet look required a near perfect finish because the high gloss showed every little flaw and surface irregularity.

We had a full-time finisher and many of us had extensive experience with natural wood finishes. But this was throwing us for a loop and time was running out. One afternoon, I was on my way to an auto dealership to get my truck serviced when it occurred to me that I was surrounded by wet look finishes. Cars! Every car on the road has a high gloss opaque finish.

So while my truck was on the rack I wandered to the dealership’s paint shop and struck up a conversation with the foreman. As it happened, this guy had been trained as a piano finisher and did custom auto paint jobs on the side. I asked if he was interested in helping up get this house full of cabinetry painted and he was more than happy to help.

He came to work for us and taught us all the tricks. Things like feather fill, guide coats and blocking to get the surface ready for the color coats. He told us that the processes for painting a piano were almost the same as those for painting a car. We ended up with a beautiful high gloss finish on our cabinetry, one that this painter called "four fingers deep." We got tons of publicity and we even got paid because the house sold quickly.


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