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Expert's Corner — surfaces

Fillers - When Smooth isn't Smooth Enough

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Fillers - When Smooth isn't Smooth Enough

So, you've just finished that stellar table top and you'd like to give it a 'smooth as glass' finish.  What's a woodworker to do? Why, 'Fill and Finish' of course. There are two kinds of 'fillers' - putty type fillers used to fill scratches, dents, and holes in wood, and grain (aka pore) fillers that serve to level out the surface of open grained woods. It's the latter filler that concerns us here. Woods such as oak, ash, elm, mahogany, chestnut, walnut, wenge, and teak are characterized as having 'open grain' because the wood pores are large. In contrast, 'closed...

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TIP: Linseed Oil Gets Darker in the Dark

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Linseed oil (both raw and boiled) darkens in the absence of light. That is, it darkens in the opposite conditions than those affecting most finishes and woods. These usually darken when exposed to light, especially high UV sunlight or fluorescent light. Take a look at the accompanying photo of two cans of linseed oil in the process of going through their darkening stages. The can on the left shows fresh overspill, the slightly yellow color you expect from linseed oil when you are using it. The can on the right has been stored in a dark cabinet for several years,...

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TIP: Benzene and Benzine

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Benzene and benzine are not the same thing. Though they are often confused or used interchangeably in books and magazines, they are very different. Benzene is carcinogenic and was removed from the consumer market 40 years ago. Before then it was often used as a paint and varnish remover. Benzine is another name for naphtha in the US, though the term is rarely used in this manner anymore. It’s also a common name for gasoline in England. Naphtha (benzine) is a faster evaporating, less oily (“drier”) form of mineral spirits. It’s not dangerous if used in moderation. Here’s an easy...

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TIP: Removing Wine Stains from Unfinished Wood

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Here are two methods for removing stains caused by spilled red wine on unfinished wood—for example, on a butcher-block countertop. 1.    Mix some Oxi-Clean with water to make a paste and put it on the affected area. Check after a few minutes to be sure it’s doing something. If so, leave it for a short time until the wine stain is removed.2.    Scrub the wood with a scouring powder, such as Ajax, that contains a little chlorine bleach. If either of these methods leaves a lighter spot on the wood, apply the cleaning solution to the entire surface so it...

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