After doing some priming this evening, I thought it might be helpful to describe how I do it. My method is based on Rob Howard’s recommendations for using the primer from Studio Products. I’m using their white lead/black oil primer, now discontinued. The approach should work for any oil primer, such as the newer SP titanium black oil primer, or the lead white oil primers from Williamsburg or Doak.
- This needs to be done in a well-ventilated room.
- Cut the panel to size. Sand the edges down so that they are smooth and slightly rounded (chamfered).
- Clean the surface of the panel thoroughly with denatured alcohol. Give it a few minutes to evaporate away.
- Apply a layer of primer with a knife. I use a plastic palette knife. You can also use one of those wide plastic house painting knives, but I find the sharp corners leave grooves. You could also use a brush, but it would be slow work. If the primer is too thick to spread easily, you can thin it slightly with solvent. Apply the primer quite thinly.
- Take a soft fan brush and wet it with solvent. Lightly feather it over the primed surface, smoothing out all of the bumps and grooves. When the brush picks up primer, wipe it with a cloth, wet it again, and continue until you’ve smoothed the entire surface.
- Let the panel dry leaning face-in against a wall. This will help keep dust from falling on it. Allow about 4–5 days to dry.
- Repeat with a second layer.
- Allow at least a month, preferably several months, to cure. It’s best to do several panels at a time, several times a year, so that you always have a couple of panels in preferred sizes ready to go.
Oil primed surfaces are very pleasant to work on, although it takes time to get used to how smooth and non-absorbent they are.