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ScrollMeThis2014

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Reply with quote  #1 
I'm looking at making toy trucks for my son.  My question is how do I achieve the high-gloss painted finish that is often featured on the example toys shown on this site (e.g. the painted version of the truck stop in the attached picture).

Is the type of wood used important?  I'd prefer to use actual wood vs. mdf, but is the smoothness of mdf a big factor?   I plan on primarily brushing and not spraying any paint or finish I apply.

Thanks in advance!

small-world-peterbilt-truck-stopMural.jpg

Ken Martin

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Reply with quote  #2 
ScrollMeThis2014

I
t is hard to get the same look we see in the glamour shots on the promotional items.  That is the standard I am shooting for as well with my toys as.

I like to use Krylon Spray paints, but I live in California where the weather lets us spray all year.

When I do brush paint I have found wood works the best, plywood works OK, and MDF is OK as well but takes more work getting the edges smooth.

For the smoothest finish it all starts with the wood.  Sand out all imperfections first, then wipe off all dust and hold under a bright light or out in the sun to examine, this is the best way to see if there are any defects.

Priming:  I like to use Delta Gesso as my primer and the toy part will get two to 4 coats of this primer all depending on the wood.  Always light coats.  After the first coat I like to do a fairly aggressive sanding on the piece with 120 grit followed by 100 grit then followed by buffing with a synthetic pad. (or you can use 00 grade steel wool).  When you buff with the synthetic pads you will see, even the primer starts to shine.  Now the Second Coat:  When this coat is dry I will sand a littler lighter with 100 grit and follow with the synthetic pads.  Sometimes I am done here.  If I don't like the look or feel, I will apply primer coats until I like the way the piece feels and looks.
Note: the synthetic pads are the key in this process.
Note: This sounds like a lot of painting, sanding, and buffing, but the Delta Gesso drys so fast you could easily put on 4 coats if you needed to and be on to the paint in a day.
Remember the goal was a smooth shinny finish.  Short cuts always come back to bite me in the.......
Addendum to above:  Some of us have started using our paint as the primer, but still go through the same process as above.  Sometimes the white of the primer shows through some colors (like dark blue being the worst) and it is just easier to prime with the paint.
The reason paints are not traditionally used as primers is the cost, but the craft paints are very cost effective. Some people like to add a little paint into the primer to tint the primer to close to the right color.

Painting.  Again if brush painting I like to use Delta Cermcoat Acrylic Paints because they go on smooth and have so many colors.  Note: Painting with a brush or a sponge always depends on the quality of you brush or sponge.  Sometimes I will thin the paint just a little with water to get it to flow better, and DON'T BRUSH THE PAINT TO DEATH. Light coats stroked in the same finish direction just a couple of times will give you a better job, than going back over a painted area over and over again.
Remember this paint is drying so fast that if you go over and over it or come back to touch it up you are really putting on a second coat before you have done the sanding like you should.
If I see a mistake in the paint as I am going along, not to worry, because remember we are going to sand and buff the first coat of paint fairly aggressively.  Then lighten up with the sanding and buffing on the second and third coats.
Note:  Usually on the second or third coat of paint, when I am satisfied with the look, I will just buff with a very fine synthetic buffing pad that is equal to 0000 grade steel wool.

Now you can seal the project.  Again if you are using no sprays, I like to use the Delta Varnish, because again it is so quick drying.  After the 1st coat I will buff with the synthetic buffing pad then reapply the second and hopefully the last coat of varnish the buff it with the finest synthetic buffing pad I have.

Then when completely cured, (meaning you can no longer smell the paint) apply a coat of Cynthia's Beeswax and Mineral Oil Paste Wax to the toy for extra protection, and ease of cleaning.  If a toy sits around for some time before shipping to a customer I always apply a 2nd coat of the Paste Wax just before shipping.

Sorry for the long winded answer to your question, but this is how I get the best look when brush painting.  Although the discretion seems like it would take forever, it does not because the Delta primers and paints dry so fast.

I am sure there are better ways to reach the results you are looking for, but this works for me.
If I want a better finish I use Krylon spray paints.
Even better, I am sure, would be to use an air gun, which I do not have.

Work with what you have and take your time to learn how the primers and paints you want to use will work with the wood products you are using.  Every wood paints differently.

My goal is to have my toys look like the glamour shots from Toymakingplans.com, but keep in mind that you can make things look better in photos and on the computer than you sometimes can in real life.

The absolute best way to tell if your paint job is OK, is to watch little kids faces light up when they first see your painted toys.  You will know than you have done a good job.

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Kenneth W Martin
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xihunter

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Reply with quote  #3 
Ken:
   What type of synthetic pads are you referring to?  I understand the process, but am curious about the kind/type of synthetic pad you use.
Thanks,
Michael
Udie

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Reply with quote  #4 
Ken - Outstandin post, lots of great information and methods explained [thumb]
Ken Martin

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Reply with quote  #5 
xihunter 
I am sorry but I can't find my receipt for them, but I buy them on line from one of the special wood working stores.
Later I will try to find out which store.
Someone here on the forum may know where to buy them.
Thanks

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Kenneth W Martin
http://FuzzyDuckCreations.com/
https://www.etsy.com/shop/FuzzyDuckCreations
ScrollMeThis2014

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Reply with quote  #6 
Ken, thanks so much for the intense detail.  I will be researching the products you mentioned and look forward to trying the process out!
sjc5454

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Reply with quote  #7 
Thanks Ken for the great step by step post for applying craft paints, I will be using some on my next project. I plan to make the Vintage 1955 train set for a neighbor, then the truckstop for my brother. Of course, I will have to make two of each or the grandsons will very let me have any peace. I have been told that I owe the oldest one a plane now after building three for a customer.

Speaking of differnet types of paint, has anyone tried using food coloring mixed with alcohol as a paint, then finish with lacquer to seal it? How about milk paint? Both are non-toxic, but I am not sure how they would come out. I guess if you wanted the grain to still show, food coloring would work ok. I will have to try them on some scraps and see how they turn out.
ctowne

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Reply with quote  #8 
Hi Steve - I have used food color and found it to be an uneven finish.  When I want more of a transparent paint so the grain shows through, General has some kid safe dyes in wonderful colors.  I have also mixed the little craft paints in a 4:1 water to paint ratio so you can tint the wood but still see the grain.  Some of the lighter colors like yellow would only need a 3 parts water to 1 part paint.  The problem I've had with doing this method is not all colors mix consistently with water even though it is the same maker.  I'm sure the type of pigments for colors use different dispersers to make them consistent.  You will just need to experiment which colors work for you.  Another bonus with having a watered down paint is you can dip the items and not have to paint them.  
Cindy
Muskokamike

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Reply with quote  #9 
Hi There: my first post here....
I just want to throw in a couple of tips/comments:
   I use Krylon paints too because they dry so fast and generally are the best rattle can paints out there. Recently I bought their Gloss clear coat instead of the semi-gloss I've been using for years and no matter what I did, it would NOT lay on properly over Minwax stain. Semi worked fine, but not the gloss. It would run like a scared rabbit into clumps.....I eventually sanded it off and used armor coat clear gloss and it worked perfectly the first time.
   With that being said, to fill all the little grain bumps and end grain voids a primer should be relatively thick bodied. Thicker than Krylon lacquers are. I find it takes too long for Krylon finish paints to fill these little imperfections.....
   If you want a truly fine finish, you should be using 320 or 400 between your coats...that's what I've been doing building furniture for 15 years and it applies well to toys....
   Staining: you can use just about anything as a "stain"...I've used reduced tea, Coca-Cola, even latex paint (you just rub it in instead of laying it on with a brush...pretty amazing results if you want to see the wood grain).
Udie

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Reply with quote  #10 
Muskokamike - Great post, thanks. I like the idea of using latex paint and doing a rub on. I'll have to give that a try and see how that comes out, just might be a huge time saver.
Muskokamike

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Reply with quote  #11 
It's great too because there are about a billion colours available.....with latex paint these days being so thick (I swear by behr) you might want to thin it down a bit too.

If you like coloured wood yet still see the grain, you should check out goudey in Toronto.....they have some AMAZING NGR stains.....

http://goudeymfg.com/

they are most amazing people. I had a customer who wanted a chest made and stained to match an existing set. I took a drawer front to them and they worked with me for at least 2+ hours testing various stains on various pieces of wood with various clear coats on top. We finally settled on dark mahogany with 1/4 ounce of stain mixed in with the clear.....that's just it, they spent an hour just on how much stain to mix with the clear......

That's a really cool trick too...if you're hand applying clear lacquer, put a little stain in it...it makes the colour about a mile deep....


 

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