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TIP: Correcting Stains from Rain Water Spots

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TIP: Correcting Stains from Rain Water Spots

If you transport unfinished wood or an unfinished wooden object through rain or sprinkling, the water drops will raise the grain, and wood stains will show up darker over these spots. The cause is the rough raised grain retaining more of the stain. The accompanying picture shows an example of what can happen. There are two ways to avoid the spotty staining, both involving sanding (even if the wood has already been sanded). The first is to sand the wood thoroughly to remove the raised grain over the spots. The second is to wipe over all the wood with a...

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TIP: Strip Don't Sand

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If you want to remove an old finish in order to put on a new one, it’s almost always better to strip the finish than to sand it off. First, except in cases where the old finish is flaking off, it’s a lot more work to sand than to strip using a paint-and-varnish remover. But more importantly, sanding cuts through stain and “patina” (the color changes in wood caused by light and oxidation), and it does so unevenly. Once you start cutting through this coloring, you have to sand through it everywhere to get an even coloring for refinishing. Stripping...

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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: Freeze Candle Wax Drips to Remove

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The easy way to remove candle wax that has dripped onto a finished surface is to freeze it by holding an ice cube on it for about 10 seconds. Once frozen, the wax is easy to pick off the finish without causing any damage. If a little wax residue remains and you can’t pick it off, dissolve it with mineral spirits (paint thinner) or a clear furniture polish and wipe away the residue with a cloth. Be aware that red candle wax can stain a light finish. There’s no easy way to remove this stain, but it will fade in...

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TIP: Soften Sharp Edges

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It’s very important that you soften all machined or hand-planed wood edges before applying any film-building finish. The finish will peel away from sharp edges (as is shown in the example) if they aren’t rounded over a little. It’s also a good idea to soften edges when using non-film-building oil finishes. Sharp edges dent easier than softened edges. You can easily remove the sharpness from edges with several light passes using medium-grit sandpaper.

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