Mirror Finish

How to Get a Mirror Finish on Wood – Step-by-Step Guide


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Glossy finish on wood looks amazing, we can all agree on that.

For anybody with a knack and interest in woodwork, getting a mirror finish on the wood surface is a challenge. But that challenge only lasts as long as you don’t know the steps.

First things first, in the traditional sense, getting a glossy or mirror finish on a wood project is called French polish.

In this post, you will learn how to get a mirror finish on wood in easy steps. Before we start, you need to remember that this guide is for small objects.

For larger projects, you can follow the same steps but you will need a power sander or power buffer to finish the project off.

Steps to get a mirror finish on wood

Here is all that you will need to attain a mirror or glossy finish on wood:

  • Clean rags, lots of them.
  • Wet or dry sandpaper 400 or 600-grit.
  • Wet or dry sandpaper, 800, 1000, or 2000.
  • A bucket of soapy water.
  • Some rubbing compound.
  • A brush.
  • Paint, or lacquer.

Step 1: Cleaning the surface

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The first for how to get a mirror finish on wood is to clean the surface. You need to make sure that the wooden surface is smooth and clean.

The surface needs to be clean so that your glossy-mirror finish can look perfect. Once you apply the layer of coating to make it shine, the imperfections in your wood will become extremely visible.

For a uniform finish, you should scruff up the wooden surface. All you need to do is use the sandpaper, 400 or 600 grit sandpaper to blend the wood and its imperfections.

Make sure that the surface is smooth. Brush the dust off the surface and do the same for the corners.

If you don’t have sandpaper, you can make use of fine steel wool, it will have the same effect.

While smoothening the surface, if you see some dents or wholes, make sure that you fill them up with wood filler. Once you add the wood filler, wait till it dries. Then wipe it off.

Then you need to use the 800 or higher grit sandpaper to even out the pores you just filled. Repeat the process as before.

Step 2: Painting the surface

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Before we get to the primary part of how to get a mirror finish on wood, you will need to paint the surface.

You can use whichever color you want. You can get acrylic paints or spray cans. Whatever you use on the surface, remember to make sure it is even.

Even coats of paint will shine better.

For the sake of this guide, use flat paint. Avoid using the glossy one because you will have to sand it afterward.

Once you are satisfied with the painted surface, let it dry.

Step 3: Sanding the painted surface

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Use soapy water and wet your sandpaper in it. Use the extra-fine sandpaper, 400 or 600 grit. Start sanding the surface. This will help you even out the surface and take away the brushstrokes if any.

When you sand the corners, be careful. It is easy to ruin the piece on the edges. Remember to wipe the surface often, just to keep a check on your work.

Step 4: Wet-dry sanding of the surface

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This step is important if you want to master the answer to how to get a mirror finish on wood. See, when you use sandpaper, you will have fine scratches here and there.

Make sure that you are using wet-dry sandpaper to even out the wooden surface a little more. Visually inspect your wooden piece.

This step helps you create a smooth base for a high-gloss mirror finish.

Step 5: Using a Rubbing compound to make the surface better

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Next, use a clean rag and pour some of the rubbing compound on it. By now, the wooden surface should have a sheen to it.

All that you need to do is, rub the compound all over the surface. Start with a side, and slowly work through the piece.

While rubbing the compound, don’t try to apply it on the entire surface. This will not give you an even finish.

Once done, wipe off the surface with a clean, dry rag to remove any excess compound.

Step 6: The Finish

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Now, for the last leg of the how to get a mirror finish on wood guide, all you need to do is lay down a finish. You can use a high-gloss finish or lacquer.

If you have to use polyurethane, make sure you get gel polyurethane. Brush-on polyurethane is a time-consuming process. You will need loads of patience. If you’re running low on time, it will cause a hindrance.

Also, avoid using Shellac. Although shellac is a good option for a mirror finish, it is difficult to work with. Plus, it is sticky, which makes using it sticky.

Gel Polyurethane is a wipe-on and wipe-off option, making it pretty easy to apply. The only downside is that you need to wait about four hours for each coat to dry.

So, when you are looking to finish the last step, you need to apply your gloss-finish over the semi-glossy finish.

Step 7: Reapplication and Scruffing

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Next, you need to wait for the finish to dry. Once dry, use a fine grit paper to scruff the surface gently.

Wipe it off, and reapply the finish. And that’s it, there you have it.


The real answer to how to get a mirror finish on wood is patience and time. Regardless of the process, a mirror finish on wooden objects turns out better when you have time on your hands.

If you have time, you can reapply coats of the gloss finish multiple times. You can sand the finish each time. The more you repeat this process, the better your mirror finish turns out.

The real answer to an amazing mirror finish is to pile up the layers of finish over a few weeks’ time.