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Expert's Corner — varnish

Stripping with Solvent

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With shellac and lacquer finishes, which are the finishes used on almost all old furniture and woodwork, you can use their solvent for stripping instead of a paint-and-varnish remover. Depending on the object being stripped, I often find this method easier in the sense of spending less total time. It’s also less messy. Use denatured alcohol for shellac and lacquer thinner for lacquer. You can test the finish to find out which it is by dabbing a little of each solvent onto the finish. The alcohol will soften shellac and make it sticky or remove it. Lacquer thinner will do...

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Combining Water-Based and Oil-Based Products

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Combining Water-Based and Oil-Based Products

Water and oil don’t mix, but water-based and oil-based finishing products can be combined as long as the previous coat is dry. Water dries considerably faster than oil so you can apply an oil-based finishing product over a water-based product within a couple of hours. On the other hand, you should allow at least overnight, and often several days, before applying a water-based product over an oil-based product or you may get wrinkling or poor bonding.

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TIP: Dealing with Bubbles in a Finish

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TIP: Dealing with Bubbles in a Finish

Bubbles in a finish are more likely from brushing than from spraying, though it’s possible to get bubbles in a sprayed finish if you have the air pressure turned up real high. Bubbles are caused by the turbulence created by the brush gliding over the surface much more than from shaking or stirring the finish. The problem is worse if your shop is hot or if the finish and wood are at different temperatures. Because some formulations bubble less than others, especially with varnishes and water-based finishes, you can also switch to another brand, which may reduce the problem. To...

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TIP: Ghosting

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TIP: Ghosting

Ghosting occurs when you sand or rub through one layer of finish into the one below, as shown in the accompanying picture. You can recognize ghosting when the problem area you’re trying to remove keeps getting bigger rather than smaller—like sanding through veneer. The term ghosting is the traditional name for this phenomenon. As it starts to appear, you see the “ghost” of the finish layer underneath. It is also called “layering,” which describes the phenomenon well, and “witness lines,” a relatively new term, which doesn’t. Nevertheless, it seems that witness lines has become the favored term in many recent...

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This Month, Nine Experts for the Price of One

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Looking back over our recent articles, we thought we’d celebrate some great ideas, hot tips, and super stories from our Finishing Experts. Read, learn and enjoy! 1.Glen Huey on Shellac: The lack of respect for shellac may be due to the fact that it, a natural resin, is made from a bug’s secretions – not bug droppings, as some think. A lac insect, about the size of an apple seed, ingests tree sap which undergoes a transformation before being secreted as a shell-like shield that covers the bugs. The secretion also sticks to tree twigs. If it is scraped from...

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