1. Use Fine Grit Sandpaper to Sand - For a really polished look, sand really well. Start with 100 grit sandpaper, then go over the piece again with 220 and then 320 or 400 grit sandpaper, until the surface is completely smooth.
2. Clean Thoroughly – In order to avoid imperfections under the paint, you must clean the piece thoroughly with Windex or TSP. Make sure to get the little dust bunnies out of the corners of beveled edges.
3. Spray on the Primer – If you do need to prime, use a spray primer in order to get an even surface. The primer that I have found to have a really good smooth finish is Cover Stain spray primer.
4. Sand the Primer – For an extra polished finish, sand a little with 320 grit sandpaper after spraying the primer. Then, remember again to clean the piece thoroughly.
5. Spray on the Paint With a Paint Sprayer – I recommend using the Graco Truecoat. It’s one I really like. I know that a paint sprayer can be a little intimidating to a novice furniture painter. If you aren’t ready to make that leap, another option is to spray the piece with spray paint and then sand well with 400 grit sandpaper afterward. Clean thoroughly and then spray or brush on a clear coat. In my experience spray paint doesn’t have a nice finish by itself, especially over pieces with large surface areas like desks and dressers. With spray paint, sanding and clear coating are necessary for a polished finish.