For many pieces of furniture I build, I like to have a bit of color. Maybe the inside of a cupboard or the outside of a panel for a shaker style cabinet door. I want a solid color but I still want to have the grain of the wood show through. I also want complete coverage with no brush marks. I want the wood to look like it was cut from the "different color on one side" tree. I didn't have much luck until a watched a woodworking video by Chris Schwarz. This technique is my adaptation of his method.
Step 1: Sand Wood
Take whatever wood you are using and sand it. Start with 120 grit sandpaper to remove the shop rash from the wood. (Great term, thanks Chris.) Continue up the grits until you finish with 220 grit. I used a random orbiter sander for all these grits.
Step 2: Pre Raise the Grain
The paint to be applied is water based so it will raise the grain. Spray the surface with water and let dry. Then hand sand with 220 grit sandpaper.
Take flat latex paint in the color of you choice and mix it with equal parts of water. Mix it up and apply with a smooth finish roller. I like the disposable mini rollers that you can get at your home center.
The home center will also have sample half pint size containers of paint for about $3. (If you go to the contractor register with a lot of stuff they sometimes just give it to you, if it doesn't have a price tag and they are really busy. You didn't hear this from me.)
Place the wood on raisers (I use wood cube) to keep the bottom off the bench top. This will keep spilled paint from spoiling the bottom surface.
Depending on the color you may only need one coat. If it is splotchy then apply a second coat. After years of experience I now understand why barns were painted red. It is the color most likely to need only a single coat.
Step 4: Burnish
After the paint is dry you will want to burnish the painted surface. I find that the brown packing paper that comes in packages from Amazon works perfectly. Just take a wad of paper and give a good rubbing as if you are sanding. This will knock down any paint bumps, give the surface a final smoothing, and give the surface a slight shine.
Step 5: Cut Wood to Size
People allways ask me how I keep the paint off the edges. My edges are always free of any paint. My trick it is paint the wood before I make the final finish cuts. So easy it sorta seems like cheating