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Smudge pad for wood finishing.

antique finish panel with smudge pad 

Smudge pad is one of the finishing techniques that is mostly used in the antique furniture finishing. As its call, the smudge pad is a padding technique, the technique of stain application to produce the dirty (smudge) finishing looked. Smudge pad will give antique and dirty looked to enhance the antique effect in the antique finishing. The smudge pad will result the uneven coloration which can produces the impression life and antique on the furniture product such as to make tortoise shell finish. The similar technique also can be use to make the other finishing effect such as marble finish or lapis lazuli finish.  
Smudge pad is performed by using a stain pad, a special stain which is designed to be applied by padding technique. The pad stain is made from dye stain dissolved in the alcohol or ethanol. The alcohol solvent is not too strong in dissolving lacquer or sealer, making the padding can be done more easily and safely. The pad can color on the lacquer of sealer surface without too much “bite” and damaging the film layer. ( See our previous article: pad stain application in the wood finishing)

How to do the smudge pad.
  • Preparation of the surface finish.
Pad stain is usually performed on the second sealer or first top coat layer, when the coating film of the finish layer is thick enough. The thick layer of film makes the pad stain application can be done easily. When the film coating is thick enough the finishing color already can be looked clearly, since that the color and effect finish addition by the pad stain can be checked and observed clearly. 
The finishing schedule for the antique smudge finish are usually as follow: 
      1. Stain:
      2. Glaze
      3. Sealer
      4. Sealer 2
      5. Smudge pad
      6. Top coat
      7. Flow coat 
Make sure the sealer is dry and well sanded. A smooth and even surface is needed before the smudge pad operation. 

the 2nd sealer ready for smudge pad
  •  Preparation of the pad stain.
Use the pad with the proper color. The final finishing color will be obtained by the blending and combination from the color at the sealer with the color of the pad stain that is applied on it. Prepare the cloth that will be used to do padding according to the effect needed. Use a soft cloth from the substrates that can absorb the stain. The striped pattern of he cloth will determine the pattern resulted by the smudge pad. Choose the pattern of the cloth that match the with desired effect by the smudge pad. 

 padding the stain to make "smudge looked"
  • Padding the pad stain.
Place the pad stain in a cup or other small container, then dip the cloth in the pad stain. Make the cloth is wet with the pad stain but keep not too watery. Then padding the wet cloth to the surface of the finishing layer. Padding the stain gradually until the entire surface is covered by the stain.
View and check the padding effect that is obtained, make sure that the effect obtained is according to the effect we want. There many effect finish we can made by this technique, do some trial to make many finishing effect we can make. 

 the smudge pad effect finish

We still can do correction at this step if necessary, the stain that is too strong can be reduced by rubbed with steel wool, or wiped with alcohol. While some more pad stain can be padded more to add more color and smudge effect.
  •  Clear coat application
The clear coating application is needed after the finishing and color effects is obtained. Make sure we already got the finishing color and effect we need before we apply the clear coating, since the correction to the pad stain can be done after it is layered with clear coating. Scuff sand the surface to smoother the surface then layer the top coat or sealer on it. To produce a smooth finishing surface usually we need 2 layer or more clear coat on the padded surface.

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