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Expert's Corner — surface

TIP: Spotting Glue Seepage

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It’s very irritating to apply a stain to a project only to find there’s glue on the surface that prevents penetration. Areas with glue show up lighter. There are two easy methods of checking for glue so you can remove it: wet the wood with water; or wet the wood with a thinner such as mineral spirits (paint thinner). Water will turn the glue white, as shown in the picture. The area will be lighter under mineral spirits, similar to the way it looks under a stain. The problem with using water is that it raises the grain of the...

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TIP: Plastic Spreader Trick When Rubbing a Finish

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TIP: Plastic Spreader Trick When Rubbing a Finish

When leveling a finish with sandpaper and a lubricant, you can get a quick view of where you are in the process by using a plastic spreader to remove the sludge from an area. As long as the finish you applied has a gloss sheen, dips and pores where you haven’t sanded enough show up well. The plastic-spreader trick is a lot quicker than washing off all the sludge with a rag and mineral spirits, or a rag and water, and you don’t have to let the solvent or water dry to see what’s happening. The shiny areas show up...

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TIP: Stirring Stain

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TIP: Stirring Stain

Don’t be fooled by the color of a stain just after you remove the lid, especially with water-based stains. With these stains the combination of binder and solvent may be off-white, which is not at all what you are expecting. The pigment will have settled entirely to the bottom of the can, and it may have hardened enough so that shaking the can doesn’t bring it all into suspension. It’s always best to stir the stain with a stirring stick. When you remove all the pigment off the bottom of the can and into suspension, the color of the liquid...

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TIP: Shortcut for Color Confirmation

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TIP: Shortcut for Color Confirmation

Stains lighten as they dry, so you often see instructions to apply a coat of finish to see the true color you will get at the end. This isn’t necessary. You don’t have to let a stain dry and apply a coat or two of finish to see the color a stain will produce on the wood. There’s a much quicker method. All you need to do is look at the color while the stain is still damp on the wood—that is, right after you have wiped off the excess. This is the color you will get, and it holds...

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Preparation and Application – A Good Finish Requires Both

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Preparation is a huge part of finishing. Failing to prepare the wood will surely lead to a bad finish no matter how good your equipment or coating. So let’s talk first about sanding. You must start with a completely dry piece of wood. If you have stripped it, let it dry, preferably overnight. Then give the wood a light sanding. We suggest 180-grit sandpaper, or any grit up to a 220 will work just fine. Anything finer will affect the ability of the stain to penetrate into the wood, especially on closed-grain woods such as maple, cherry, etc. Even if...

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