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Expert's Corner — coat

Ghosting

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Ghosting

Ghosting occurs when you sand or rub through one layer of finish into the one below,  as shown in the accompanying picture. You can recognize ghosting when the problem area you’re trying to remove keeps getting bigger rather than smaller—like sanding through veneer. The term ghosting is the traditional name for this phenomenon. As it starts to appear, you see the “ghost” of the finish layer underneath. It is also called “layering,” which describes the phenomenon well, and “witness lines,” a relatively new term, which doesn’t. Nevertheless, it seems that witness lines has become the favored term in many recent...

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TIP: Restoring Life to Dry Wood

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TIP: Restoring Life to Dry Wood

The wood in old furniture and woodwork often takes on a dry appearance, and people want to know what to do to restore life to the wood. Because of widespread misinformation from furniture polish manufacturers that wood contains natural oils that need to be replaced by furniture polishes, many people think they need to apply oil to the wood. But the problem is rarely in the wood (and only woods from the tropics contain a natural oily resin anyway). It’s the old finish that has deteriorated and become cracked and crazed that makes the wood appear dry. Light no longer...

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Why Shellac Is My Go To Finish for Fine Furniture

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"I prefer to spray my shellac. Spraying shellac results in an even smoother finish which greatly reduces the amount of sanding during finish work." Rodney Dangerfield’s famous comedic catchphrase was, “I don’t get no respect.” In the world of furniture finishes, shellac gets no respect. That lack of respect is unwarranted. In fact, shellac is my “go to” finish on fine furniture. It should be yours as well. The lack of respect for shellac may be due to the fact that it, a natural resin, is made from a bug’s secretions – not bug droppings, as some think. A lac...

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Wiping Off Excess Stain

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The rule for applying stain successfully is to apply a wet coat and wipe off the excess before the stain dries. There’s no problem doing this with common oil-based wiping stains. They dry very slowly, so there’s plenty of time to get the excess wiped off before the stain dries. But water-based and lacquer stains dry rapidly, so it’s often difficult to get all the excess wiped off before the stain begins to set up. An example of the problems with water-based stain is shown in the accompanying picture. Here are three ways to overcome the problem: If possible, divide...

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TIP: Finishing Over Pine Knots

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The resin in pine knots contains solvents that will bleed into and through most paints and finishes. This can cause the paint or finish to remain sticky, and it can cause the orange color to bleed through as shown in the accompanying picture of white latex paint applied over pine. There are two types of products on the market that will block this resin: white pigmented primers and clear shellac. The most well known white primers are Kilz and BIN. The best clear shellac to use is Zinsser SealCoat because it has very little color and a longer shelf life...

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