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Expert's Corner — solvents

TIP: Dating furniture by the finish used

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TIP: Dating furniture by the finish used

Because different finishes have been used at different times, it’s often possible to date furniture simply by the finish on it. In the 18th century and earlier, makers used whatever finish they had available, usually wax or linseed oil. If the maker lived near a port city, alcohol- or turpentine-soluble resins may have been available. By the 1820s, transportation had improved and shellac flakes, along with other alcohol-soluble resins, became widely available. Alcohol evaporates rapidly so these finishes dry fast and don’t collect dust. As a result, shellac became the overwhelmingly dominant finish used on almost all furniture and woodwork...

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The Beauty of Waterborne Finishes

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It’s a rare finishing class that I don’t get someone who has been a die-hard user of solvents, such as lacquer, conversion varnish and the like, who is reluctant to try waterborne. There is certainly nothing wrong with those finishes, after all they have been around for years and have stood the test of time. Waterborne finishes are the new kid on the block, right? Well sort of. Ever used latex paint, either interior or exterior? Well, that is basically a waterborne finish and it too has stood the test of time. Now, thanks to some creative chemistry we have...

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Spraying Right, Spraying Safe, Where to Use Your HVLP Sprayer

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Now that you’ve bought your spray system, where do you use it? Okay, you’ve made the move and have purchased an HVLP spray finishing system. But before buying did you give much thought to where you were going to use it? From talking with my students, I’ve found that the majority believe that with HVLP, they can spray anywhere. While this might be true, the spray finishing environment must still have some controls. If you do not have a formal spray booth, there are options to create a safe and controlled environment. So what to do? An easy answer is...

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So-Called “Green” Paint Strippers

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There are an increasing number of so-called “green” paint strippers on the market with problems you need to be aware of. These strippers are easy to identify by their packaging, which is always in plastic containers. Traditional methylene-chloride and flammable-solvent strippers are always in metal cans. The packaging tells you everything you need to know about the strength of the stripper. Strong solvents dissolve plastic. So the green strippers use weaker solvents. These strippers are still very effective, however. If given enough time, they will liquefy or loosen the bond of almost all paints and finishes. There are four things...

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TIP: Brown Paper Bag Trick

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TIP: Brown Paper Bag Trick

There’s almost always a little dust that settles onto the last coat of finish before it dries, even when you spray fast-drying lacquer. With slow drying varnish, there’s always dust stuck to the finish. As long as the dust isn’t excessive and as long as the particles aren’t large, you can make the surface feel smooth by rubbing with a brown paper bag. Give the finish a couple of days to cure so you don’t scratch it. A smooth feel is critical when judging the quality of a finish. It’s natural for people to run their hand over a finish....

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