...Here are two examples that I finished using the preparation process outlines below. ( the varnish is not surfaced (sanded flat and then polished) yet, just applied to give the general idea...)
...The photos below show the preparation process used, step by step. (any wood project can be greatly enhanced by preparing the wood surface in this way, before varnishing.)
Next, determine which way the grain runs by running your finger tips in both directions with the grain, the direction with the least drag is the direction we want to sand in... mark this on both sides of wood.
We will sand in only the one direction with finer and finer sandpapers on a foam block by hand:
#100,150,220,280,320,400 and then 600, dusting surface between each paper grade.
...Next, I continue the sanding process with "Micro-Mesh" flexible backing silicone carbide paper series, going from # 1,500 to # 12,000 in nine steps. (see www.micromesh.com ) Available through International Violin Co. (www.internationalviolin.com):
I blow the surface clean with high pressure air (also down-grain only) and then apply permanent water stain to color surface. ( These are purchased from instrument supply houses such as www.internationviolin.com ) I brush these on with a soft cotton cloth, again only going in the one direction, with the grain.