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Expert's Corner — finishing

TIP: Strain Water-Based Finish

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TIP: Strain Water-Based Finish

It’s always a good idea to strain a finish before brushing or spraying it to remove dirt and other unwanted particles. It’s especially important to strain water-based finishes because small bits of finish often solidify in the can, and rust that forms around the lip of the can may fall into the finish. Commercial strainers are widely available wherever paints and finishes are sold. These strainers are much easier to use than any homemade cloth system you may think up. Straining always involves using a separate container, which can be the spray-gun cup itself if you’re spraying, or a jar...

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TIP: Dry Off NMP Residue

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Paint and varnish removers sold in plastic containers contain the solvent n-methyl pyrrolidone (NMP) as the active ingredient. This solvent is relatively expensive, so manufacturers often mix in other solvents to reduce the cost. But it’s the NMP that does the majority of the work. NMP has less solvent strength than the methylene chloride and the other solvents used in strippers sold in cans. Just the packaging, plastic vs. metal, tells you this. The reason NMP is still effective is that it evaporates extremely slowly, so it can remain wet on the paint or finish for days if necessary. I...

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TIP: Oil and Spontaneous Combustion

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Drying oils, especially linseed oil, are the only finishing materials that spontaneously combust. Solvents don’t spontaneously combust, paint strippers (including paint or finish residue) don’t spontaneously combust, and no type of varnish spontaneously combusts. It’s not totally clear whether 100% tung oil can spontaneously combust, so treat it like it does. As linseed oil dries, it generates heat as a byproduct. If you wad up linseed-oil rags or pile them on top of each other, the heat generated in the middle can’t dissipate. It builds up until it reaches the flash point of the cloth and it bursts into flame....

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