Step 5: Sand, Vac, and Tack the Boxes

sanding the old finish on cabinet frames and wiping with a tack cloth
Photo: Brian Wilder
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Sand all surfaces with the grain using 100-grit paper. To make sure no bits of dust mar the finish, vacuum the cabinets inside and out, then rub them down with a tack cloth to catch any debris that the vacuum misses. Dee says, "Hand sanding is the best technique on oak because you can push the paper into the open grain, which a power sander or sanding block will miss."

Pro tip: When using a tack cloth, unfold each new cloth fully, down to one layer, then crumple it to get the greatest dust collection surface.
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    Tools List

    • drill
      Drill-driver
    • paint scraper
      Paint scraper
    • putty knife
      Putty knife
    • shop vacuum
      Shop vacuum with drywall-dust filter
    • random orbit sander
      Random-orbit sander
    • chisel-tip paintbrush
      2½-in. chisel-tip with nylon-polyester bristles
    • eye goggles
      Goggles
    • dual cartridge respirator
      Respirator (fitted with organic-vapor cartridges)
    • rubber gloves
      Chemical-resistant rubber gloves (long-sleeve style)

    Shopping List

    1. Low-tack painter's tape

    2. Rosin paper

    3. 0.5-mil plastic sheet

    4. Tack cloth

    5. Liquid deglosser and abrasive pad

    6. Lint-free rags

    7. 100-grit silicon-carbide sandpaper

    8. Two-part polyester wood filler or autobody filler to fill dings or screw holes

    9. 220-grit silicon-carbide sandpaper to smooth primer between coats

    10. 280-grit silicon-carbide sandpaper to smooth paint between coats

    11. Sanding sponges, medium- and fine-grit12. Vinyl spackle

    13. Oil-based primer for use on smooth surfaces or tight-grained woods (cherry, maple, birch); or
    14. Brushing putty to prime and fill open-grained woods (oak, ash, hickory)

    15. Oil-based spray primer for touch-up

    16. Siliconized acrylic-latex caulk

    17. Oil-based paint Easier to clean and more durable than water-based, which softens when ex­posed to heat or oil.