View Full Version : OT - painting wood

Tony Ennis
08-21-2017, 09:32 PM
My current hare-brained project, which I will eventually post here, involves wooden trays that hold tools such as pliers. I want a durable glossy paint so cleaning, if it ever happens, will be easy. We're not talking the sort of dirt and abuse that happens in a metal shop. This is woodshop stuff.

Am I just looking at Home Despot exterior oil-based enamel? I'm going to want to color match it.

Another possibility is milk paint. I seem to recall it is very durable to wear and impervious to pretty much everything but any color matching would be approximate.

I bet one of you geniuses has other suggestions, too.

08-21-2017, 10:19 PM
At Lucas Electric our family business we painted everything wood and metal with grey Rustoleum. This included all the wood bins in our trucks rolling down the road. 50 years later some of those bins are on their third truck with a fresh coat of Rustoleum!

Tony Ennis
08-21-2017, 10:31 PM
At Lucas Electric our family business ...

Out of curiosity, is this the same Lucas known as "The Prince of Darkness"?

08-21-2017, 10:50 PM
Just about any exterior alkyd-enamel. I have used porch enamel for furniture paint.
Use many very thin coats (7 including 2 coats of primer), rather than thick coats as the drying time is an exponential function of the paint thickness.

J Tiers
08-22-2017, 12:04 AM
For trays made of wood, I much prefer using a varnish or shellac as opposed to paint.

It's not that they are more durable, but when they get chips, you do not notice them as much.

08-22-2017, 05:56 AM
Am I just looking at Home Despot exterior oil-based enamel? I'm going to want to color match it.

That's the idea ...
But I would run away from any of the large store house brands ... they are like buckets of water into which someone dipped, briefly, one of those pieces of paper with the desired color printed on it (or an unreasonable facsimile thereof)

I've taken to using rustoleum high gloss white enamel for various benches and things. The gloss and the white help keep the shop brighter.


Tim Aldrich
08-22-2017, 08:10 AM
Milk paint would not be a good choice if you're looking for durability. It usually gets a top coat of something, frequently boiled linseed oil. As the others have mentioned, Rustoleum would be a good choice for workshop stuff. I put one coat of Rustoleum green (and a little black on the raised panel) on my woodworking tool chest and have no complaints after four years of use.

08-22-2017, 08:27 AM
As for durability a good quality floor paint would be my first choice. Floor paints are expected to be walked on scuffed abraded etc.. formulated to resist such things.
I've had very good luck with oil based floor paint in applications where scuffs and abrasions are expected.


08-22-2017, 01:56 PM
Polyurethane floor enamel.

Paul Alciatore
08-22-2017, 05:14 PM
Three or four coats of polyurethane enamel.

But for tools, I would consider adding some liners as almost any paint will chip.

08-22-2017, 05:31 PM
I third the idea of polyurethane enamel or any other good enamel if you want a color instead of a clear varnish.

Plan on two coats for what you're doing. The first will raise the grain and make the surfaces feel like lumpy sandpaper. Sand that down after a few days of drying so it's not rubbery and clogs the paper. Dust off well and apply the second coat. Chances are that'll be fine as far as a tool drawer goes. It'll show some of the underlying grain but it'll be smooth and wipe clean easily.

As mentioned milk paint isn't even close to suitable. It's more of a stain really. It'll also oil stain easily.

I'd go for some sort of color other than white so stains don't stand out as readily. A nice dove grey is a good color for a machine shop.

For a wood working shop I'd consider polyurethane varnish and leave the wood exposed. But again two coats will be required. The first comes out lumpy and gritty due to the grain raising. The second applied over the sanded smooth first coat is the first smooth coat.

Another option is to buy pre-finished birch plywood. The factory finish is highly durable and you skip that whole two coats with sanding between and three days of drying before you can sand the paint or varnish without it being too rubbery and clogging the sandpaper.

J Tiers
08-22-2017, 05:58 PM
If you do not like the lumpy deal, you can use a sanding sealer or a "pre-stain" material under the paint etc.

I like those because they fill the wood, and tend not to let oil soak in even if the coating gets chipped, which it will. Paint tends to lay on top, and not seal. If oil gets under it, you can just about forget ever painting over any chips.

08-22-2017, 07:55 PM
If you do not like the lumpy deal, you can use a sanding sealer or a "pre-stain" material under the paint etc.

Good point. It doesn't need to be the same enamel. As long as the product you use raises the grain so you can sand off the "fuzzies" and lumps in prep for the actual paint. Shellac is great for this if it turns out to be compatible with the enamel or varnish you want to use as the top coat. By itself though it's not all that durable. A sanding sealer is often a form of lacquer thinned out so it penetrates and dries rapidly to an easily sanded surface. If you find some of that and it works with your chosen top coat that's another great option. I haven't done much of anything with pre-stain sealers so I'll leave that one alone. But if it raises the hairy stuff up so you can sand it off or if it keeps them from raising up then that would be an option too.

08-22-2017, 09:19 PM
My .02c on this is to take some wood glue and thin it out and use that to seal the wood. It turns rock hard and penetrates quite well. Ontop of that I would use a bed liner spray. That should hold up to anything you throw at it. They sell some of these bed liner products at auto stores. Some of them can. Be painted to color match after the fact some come in different colors.