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Expert's Corner — dry

TIP: How to Repair Dents and Gouges

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TIP: How to Repair Dents and Gouges

Dents and gouges are both flaws in the wood. But they are not the same thing, so they should be repaired differently. Dents are compressed wood. The wood fibers are still intact, just pressed down or indented. Gouges are also indentations, but the wood fibers have been torn and usually some of the wood has been removed. Dents can usually be steamed level. Gouges have to be filled with wood putty or some other filling material. Sometimes the indentation is not clearly a dent or gouge, so you can try steaming before resorting to filling. To steam out a dent,...

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TIP: Thinning Polyurethane with Naphtha

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Naphtha dries (evaporates) much faster than mineral spirits (paint thinner). This leads many to believe that thinning polyurethane with naphtha will make it dry faster. This is not entirely the case. Like all varnishes, oil-based polyurethane dries in two steps. The first is evaporation of the thinner. The second, and much longer step, is by the crosslinking brought about by the introduction of oxygen from the air. When you apply polyurethane, you notice that it stays wet on the surface for a short time as the thinner evaporates. Then the finish goes into a tacky or sticky stage for an...

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TIP: Finishing over waxed wood

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It’s not all that common, but sometimes you come across furniture, cabinets or woodwork that has a wax finish, and nothing else. There may be cases where you want to coat over with a more water- and scratch-resistant finish. How do you do this without having to go to the trouble of stripping the surface? The first step is to remove most of the wax. Do this by washing with a mineral-spirits, naphtha or acetone solvent. Wash, don’t just wipe. That is, soak a cloth or paper towel with the solvent and wet the wood well. Then dry it quickly...

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Combining Water-Based and Oil-Based Products

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Combining Water-Based and Oil-Based Products

Water and oil don’t mix, but water-based and oil-based finishing products can be combined as long as the previous coat is dry. Water dries considerably faster than oil so you can apply an oil-based finishing product over a water-based product within a couple of hours. On the other hand, you should allow at least overnight, and often several days, before applying a water-based product over an oil-based product or you may get wrinkling or poor bonding.

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TIP: Alchohol and Lacquer Thinner for Stripping

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TIP: Alchohol and Lacquer Thinner for Stripping

Alcohol dissolves shellac, and lacquer thinner dissolves lacquer. So you can use these solvents instead of paint-and-varnish remover for stripping. The advantage is that you don’t have to then remove the wax residue or dry off the lingering n-methyl-pyrrolidone solvent. The disadvantage is that it’s more difficult to strip complex three-dimensional surfaces. But alcohol and lacquer thinner are easy to use on flat surfaces such as tabletops. Simply wet some rags or paper towels with the solvent and lay them on the surface. Keep them wet by pouring on more solvent until the finish has liquefied and you can wipe...

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