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Expert's Corner — finishes

How to Choose a Finish: Part II

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How to Choose a Finish: Part II

For an overview of choosing a finish please refer to “How to Choose a Finish: Part I.” To better understand finishes and their differences, it’s very helpful to put them into categories by the way they cure. You may think the resins—polyurethane, alkyd, acrylic, etc.—make the big difference in finishes, but they don’t. Consider, for example, that polyurethane resin is used in varnish, water-based finish, two-part finish and in some lacquers. If you have used any two of these finishes, you know they are very different. The curing process the finish goes through is far more significant for understanding each...

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Spray Finishing in a Small Shop - You Bet!

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Spray Finishing in a Small Shop - You Bet!

If you work in a small shop you might think that spraying is out of the question. However, that's not the case. A knock-down spray booth will enable you to spray waterborne finishes easily and safely. Use a Waterborne Finish Waterborne finishes are ideal for the home shop because they don't give off as much volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as solvent-based finishes, so they're safer for your health. As well, they're practically odourless, easy to clean up, and they don't produce explosive vapours - so any fans or other ventilation equipment that you use in the vicinity of the spray...

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Using Reflected Light to Advantage

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Using Reflected Light to Advantage

You should never have runs or sags in your dried finish. The trick to avoiding them is to spot them before the finish dries and remove them with a brush. The way to see runs and sags developing is to look at the surface in a reflected light, as shown in the accompanying picture. You may need to move your head, walk around, or even arrange some special lights other than the overhead lights or the light coming in through a window. Repairing Finishes Once you have spotted the problem, use a brush to brush out the excess finish even...

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Finishing Tips by Bob Flexner: Sanding

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Finishing Tips by Bob Flexner: Sanding

When sanding wood in preparation for a stain or finish, you need to remove all the problems in the  wood – mill marks, tear outs, gouges, etc. – with the coarsest grit sandpaper you’re using before  moving on to finer grits (to remove the coarse-grit scratches). This means that the coarse-grit  sandpaper you begin with should be able to remove the problems quickly and efficiently to reduce  the amount of work required. On the other hand, with factory pre-sanded veneered plywood or mdf, beginning with 150-grit sandpaper is usually adequate.As an example, 100- or 120-grit sandpaper is usually coarse enough...

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TIP: Penetrating Finish

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The term “penetrating finish” is one of the most misleading in the vocabulary of finishing because all finishes penetrate. The term is generally used to describe just oil finishes, which dry slowly so they may penetrate a little deeper than faster-drying finishes. But depth of penetration doesn’t have anything to do with protection for the wood, and it’s here that the term becomes misleading because many people think it does, and some manufacturers claim it does. The common descriptive phrase is that the finish “protects the wood from the inside.” But the quality of a finish that creates better protection...

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