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Expert's Corner — finishing

Cross-Cut Test for Adhesion

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Cross-Cut Test for Adhesion

The proper test for determining if a paint or finish bonds well to the substrate, which could be just a previous coat of paint or finish, is called the cross-cut adhesion test. It is the standard that has been established by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). First, score the coating with the razor blade in a cross-hatch pattern with about one-sixteenth inch between cuts. Then press the masking tape over the cuts and pull it up quickly.The test is shown in the accompanying picture. To be totally accurate, you need a special cross-cut tester (the cutting tool),...

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Wax for Table-Saw Tops

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If you want to make the tabletops on your stationary machinery (table saw, band saw, jointer, etc.) slicker so boards slide easier, use paste wax, not furniture polish. And choose a paste wax sold for furniture or floors rather than for cars. The reasons for both instructions are the same. Many furniture polishes and paste waxes for cars contain silicone, which could transfer to the wood and cause finishing problems—specifically fish eye (cratering). Furniture or floor paste waxes shouldn’t cause any finishing problems as long as you buff them out well on the tabletops.

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TIP: Matching Colors

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Matching colors is one of the most difficult tasks in wood finishing. Using just a stain rarely works well because the color on the object you’re trying to match is affected by how the wood and finish have aged. The best way to match a color is usually to get the color close, but a little lighter, with a stain, then spray a toner. A toner is pigment or dye added to a finish and thinned a lot with the proper solvent. Then it is sprayed. But how do you know what color to make the toner? Here’s the trick....

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TIP: Ghosting

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TIP: Ghosting

Ghosting occurs when you sand or rub through one layer of finish into the one below, as shown in the accompanying picture. You can recognize ghosting when the problem area you’re trying to remove keeps getting bigger rather than smaller—like sanding through veneer. The term ghosting is the traditional name for this phenomenon. As it starts to appear, you see the “ghost” of the finish layer underneath. It is also called “layering,” which describes the phenomenon well, and “witness lines,” a relatively new term, which doesn’t. Nevertheless, it seems that witness lines has become the favored term in many recent...

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TIP: Hot Lye Stripping Is a Job for Professionals

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A common method used for stripping furniture in many professional refinishing and stripping shops is to dip the furniture into a tub full of hot water and lye. This method is relatively inexpensive (compared to using solvents) and very effective. It’s also compliant with many health and VOC regulations that make it difficult to use solvents, especially the most effective solvent, methylene chloride. But you should be aware that old animal hide glue, used on almost all furniture made before the 1950s, dissolves in hot water, and will also dissolve in cold alkaline (lye) water if left in contact for...

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