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Expert's Corner — refinish

TIP: Refinishing and Value

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Many people are confused about whether or not to refinish old furniture whose finish is in bad shape. They don’t really like living with the furniture, but they’ve heard (usually directly or indirectly from the Antiques Roadshow) that refinishing destroys value, and they surely don’t want to do that. A finish serves two purposes. It protects the wood from contact with liquids, and it makes the wood look better, usually richer and deeper. The finish protects and decorates. Clearly the finish in the accompanying picture does neither. In almost all cases it should be removed and replaced with a new...

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TIP: Gun Stock Finish

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The most popular homeowner gunstock finish is probably Tru-Oil. You can get it at almost every store that sells guns. Tru-Oil is polymerized linseed oil. It is linseed oil that has been cooked at high temperatures in an oxygen-free environment (inert gases) until it just begins to gel, then rapidly cooled. The cooking causes the carbon atoms to begin crosslinking. So when the finish is later exposed to oxygen in the air during the finishing process, the finish cures very rapidly. After the cooking the oil is very thick so the manufacturer adds mineral spirits to make the finish easier...

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Rubbing a Finish: The Key to Quality

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Of all the steps in finishing the one that people seem most hesitant about is “rubbing.” Yet rubbing a finish is as simple as sanding wood, and rubbing is the only step in finishing that can raise the quality of your work from average to special. No matter how careful you are, you can’t apply a perfect finish. A brush always leaves brush marks, and a spray gun usually leaves some orange peel. Worse, there’s always some dust in the air that can settle and stick to the finish. Rubbing removes these flaws, and, in addition, improves the tactile qualities...

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