Multi-layer “Wood Grain” Paint Job Fun & Interesting

Remember that subwoofer I made and how I wasn’t completely satisfied with the paint job I did on the front? This article goes into how I experimented with a multi-layer “wood grain” effect to “improve” it.

I say improve in quotes because I’m not 100% happy with this, either. But it is interesting looking and unique, so it has that going for it.

I started with the original black finish and sanded that smooth. A word about that base finish: it was quite thick and it needs to be for this to work. When sanding through the colour layers, you definitely don’t want to run the risk of sanding through the base layer down to bare wood.

The method is to spray on several layers of paint, letting each one dry between coats. I decided to use black and white, but any two (or more) colours can be used. The coats need to be fairly thick with even coverage to give well defined layers:

Alternating between colours until you think you have enough, I used up two spray cans completely. However, the paint I used wasn’t the best quality. I had a problem with the nozzle on one (as seen in the video below), and also the “sand-ability” of the paint after it dried.

I recommend going with the best quality you can find and then letting each layer dry several hours (or more) before putting on the next coat. Ideally, overnight.

” After letting the paint dry for a week, I worked up the nerve to start sanding. And that’s where the problems began “

After letting the paint dry for a week, I worked up the nerve to start sanding. And that’s where the problems began. The paint was loading up the sandpaper, whether I used it wet or dry, and the progress was extremely slow:

When the sandpaper clogs up, it doesn’t work anymore, and that was happening immediately. I tried dry, wet and with two different sanders with the same result.

On the plus side, seeing the well defined layers as shown here was encouraging:

That 11 distinct, clean layers including the base.

More sanding, mostly by hand, and it’s starting to look promising:

Of course I was thinking about other ways to cut through the layers while doing this sanding, and decided to try scraping. I used two of my homemade knives and that proved to be much faster:

The challenge is to maintain a fairly consistent pattern across the whole surface. But then wood has a wide range of grain variation and this is meant to look like that:

After all of the scraping, I fine tuned with wet sanding to blend the layers:

Messy work, wearing latex gloves is a good idea:

I did skimp on the final sanding. I should have been more careful and thorough to get rid of the fine scratches. Next time 🙂

The final step is three layers of clear and here’s how it looked after the first coat:

If you are wondering about the surface after all of that sanding and scraping, it is quite wavy. But then that seems to go well with the wild look this has.

Would I do it again? Definitely, but I think I’d use a colour palette with a bit less contrast next time. This, along with the OSB sides and top, makes a bold statement. Maybe too bold for some.

Here’s a short video going through the process: