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Expert's Corner — water-based

The (Almost) Perfect Finish

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Water-based finishes have improved quite a bit over the past few years – to the point where they make an excellent finish for just about every woodworker. In particular, they offer a lot of advantages for DIYers and hobbyist woodworkers, especially those working in small shops. You can use a water-borne finish in place of just about any other film finish (varnish, polyurethane, lacquer) on just about any wood surface (furniture, cabinetry, trim work, and flooring). While it can be sprayed on, it's likely that most DIYers and hobbyists will brush it on, which is what I do. What is...

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TIP: Pour Over to a Separate Container

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TIP: Pour Over to a Separate Container

Unless you plan on using all the finish in the original container, you should pour the amount you expect to use into a separate container – for example, a clean jar or coffee can. It’s good to do this so you don’t introduce dust or other contaminants into the finish that you will use at some later date. Especially with water-based finish, but a good idea with all finishes, you should strain the finish as you pour it. Convenient “paint” strainers like the one shown in the accompanying picture, are widely available from stores or online. The reason straining is...

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Finishes Differ in the Color They Impart

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Finishes Differ in the Color They Impart

You might choose a finish for its durability, drying speed, ease of use or cost, but you might also choose for the color it imparts to the wood. The accompanying picture shows unfinished oak at the top left, then seven common finishes and their color. If you haven’t done this comparison side by side, you may be surprised at the amount of difference. On top row from the left: unfinished, clear paste wax, water-based finish and nitrocellulose lacquer. On bottom row from the left: clear/blonde shellac, amber/orange shellac, polyurethane varnish and boiled linseed oil. In practice, wax would be an...

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Judged the Best - Winners in Finishing from the San Diego County Fair

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Judged the Best - Winners in Finishing from the San Diego County Fair

Each year, John Darroch, President and CEO of Apollo Sprayers and TheFinishingStore.com, judges the awards for the Excellence in Finishing at the prestigious Design in Wood (or @designinwood) show at the San Diego County Fair. Winners receive gift certificates from TheFinishingStore.com This combined competition and exhibit is a collaboration between the San Diego Fine Woodworkers Association and the San Diego County Fair. Woodworkers from all over the world compete for honors in the largest show of its kind anywhere (according to Fine Woodworking magazine). Exquisite furniture, musical instruments, carvings, clocks, children's toys and more — many museum quality — are included. Many...

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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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