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Expert's Corner — finishing

Finishing is not Always Easy

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Finishing is not Always Easy

First off, we all talk about doing it the same way every time. Creating finishes is like watching snowflakes fall. No two are identical. Even if two pieces are identical and being finished simultaneously in the spray zone, they are never identical because they are happening at two different spaces in time, with a twist of variables. You can rarely replicate anything exactly. Finishing is too subjective, and the better you get at it, the more your eye becomes brutally honest with you.  The spray rig with the operator who has the best eye wins in most cases. So, trick...

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Stripping with Solvent

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With shellac and lacquer finishes, which are the finishes used on almost all old furniture and woodwork, you can use their solvent for stripping instead of a paint-and-varnish remover. Depending on the object being stripped, I often find this method easier in the sense of spending less total time. It’s also less messy. Use denatured alcohol for shellac and lacquer thinner for lacquer. You can test the finish to find out which it is by dabbing a little of each solvent onto the finish. The alcohol will soften shellac and make it sticky or remove it. Lacquer thinner will do...

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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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Caring for Furniture

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How to care for furniture and woodwork has to be the most confusing and misrepresented topic in all of woodworking and finishing. Claims from product manufacturers range from one absurdity to another: from replacing natural oils in wood to moisturizing the finish to causing wax build-up. The misunderstandings these claims cause lead many people to think that some products actually damage their furniture. A discussion of these misunderstanding, or “myths,” follows at the end of this article. With so many products on the market, and with so many confusing and even contradictory claims, how can you decide for yourself, or...

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Aging and Antiquing Wood Part 2

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Aging and Antiquing Wood Part 2

We have featured  articles by extraordinary woodworker, Charles Neil, showing how to create antique finishes. Below is the second part of the article. Before reading the article take a look at Charles’s latest project, a gorgeous coffee table made from “junk wood.”   It looks so far from being “junk” and is really a stunning piece of sculpture. We love the “bird’s nest” below the table. (Insert jpeg: sideviewbirdsnest Charles loves to experiment with finishes, and use his knowledge to play with techniques, wood and coatings. We can all learn from his ideas. Here are some great tips from a great...

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