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Expert's Corner — scratch

TIP: Testing Your Finish for Hardness

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TIP: Testing Your Finish for Hardness

You can use architect’s pencils to test for finish hardness (scratch resistance). The lead in these pencils is rated from about 6 or 7B, the softest, to 6 or 7H, the hardest. HB is in the middle. You don’t need to buy all these pencils, just the middle five or six, because most finishes will test to one of these. To prepare the pencils sharpen them with a pocketknife, not a pencil sharpener. Then ground the tip of the lead perpendicular to the length of the pencil on fine sandpaper, or regular paper if the lead is close to flat....

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TIP: Finisher’s Glossary: Silicon or Silicone?

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Silicon and silicone are not the same thing, and the terms are used inaccurately so often that I thought it might be worthwhile to explain the difference. Simply put, silicon (rhymes with the man’s name, Don) is sand, and silicone (rhymes with “shown”) is an oil or gel that is used in furniture polishes, caulk and breast implants. Silicone is made from silicon but is clearly very different. It’s Silicon Valley, not silicone valley as it’s often called. The most egregious misuse of these two words I think I ever heard was a finish teacher explaining to the class that...

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