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Expert's Corner — colorants

TIP: Make Your Own Paste Wax

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Commercial brands of paste wax are as good as anything you can make yourself, but you may still want to make your own just for fun or to get a specific color or shine. Here’s how to do it. Grate the wax, or combination of waxes, into a container. Carnauba is available in flake form, so just put it in the container. Add turpentine, mineral spirits or naphtha in the ratio of about ½ pint of solvent to one pound of wax. Then put the container into a pot of water and heat it over a flame, stirring as necessary....

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TIP: Pigment Colorants for Oil and Varnish

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The two widely available pigment colorants for oils and varnishes are oil colors and Japan colors. The difference is that oil colors are pigment ground in linseed oil while Japan colors are pigment ground in varnish. So the difference in practice is that Japan colors dry faster and harder than oil colors, though if you were to mix an oil color with varnish, it should dry well. The name “Japan” comes from the attempt in the West to imitate Japanned furniture (also called Japanese or Oriental Lacquer) that was imported in the 17th and 18th century. So the harder drying...

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Protect Your Inlay

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Protect Your Inlay

One of my earliest furniture projects was a Sheraton Field bed that I built when I was 14 years old. Later, another version of that same bed was built. This time, however, I inlaid small birdseye panels into the square sections of the mahogany posts – an idea that caught my eye while surfing museum books. From nearly the beginning of my furniture building career, my favorite finish has used aniline dye to color my project with top coats of shellac and/or lacquer. As I contemplated how to finish the bed, I was concerned that all the work put into...

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