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Expert's Corner — woodworkers

Brushing Water-Based Finish Over Water Soluble Dye

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Brushing Water-Based Finish Over Water Soluble Dye

If you are brushing a water-based finish over a water-soluble dye, you should be aware that the finish can dissolve the dye and the brush will pick it up and cause streaks. To keep this from happening, seal the wood first with another finish that doesn’t contain water—for example, shellac, varnish or lacquer. Another solution is to spray the first coat of water-based finish. If you don’t have a spray gun, you can usually find aerosol water-based finishes in home centers and paint stores. As long as the object isn’t large, the aerosol should work well.

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Thin All You Want

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You often see cans of solvent finishes such as varnish, polyurethane and lacquer with instructions not to thin them. Manufacturers include these instructions in order to comply with VOC laws in some areas of the country. Adding thinner could take the finish out of compliance with the local or state laws, and manufacturers might be breaking the law if they advocated thinning. But you can’t do any harm to these finishes by adding thinner. In fact, you can add all the thinner you want, even 99 percent, without causing any harm. You’ll just get a thinner build with each coat,...

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This is Not Rocket Science

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This is Not Rocket Science

Back in the 1970s and 80s, it was common to see explanations of the difference between Danish oil and wiping varnish described as that between oil and resin-fortified oil. I couldn’t make sense of this explanation because the term “resin” is so vague. It commonly refers to fossilized tree saps such as rosin, copal and amber, and sometimes to synthetic alkyd and polyurethane. So, is one of these resins just added to the oil to “fortify” it, or is something else done? A further confusion is that linseed oil and tung oil are, themselves, sometimes classified as resins. So, is...

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How to Remove Latex Paint Spatter

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How to Remove Latex Paint Spatter

If you’ve ever used a paint roller to apply latex paint to walls and not covered your furniture and other items well enough, you may have noticed that the roller shed tiny drops of paint that dried wherever they landed. Close inspection reveals tiny paint specks everywhere. In most cases, you can remove these specks without damaging the existing finish by wiping with the solvent xylene (xylol). This solvent is the active ingredient in widely available products sold for this purpose. Common brands are Oops! and Goof Off. Xylene won’t damage lacquers or varnishes unless the surface is kept wet...

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Viscosity, Finish Thickness, and the Magic of the Wet Mil Gauge

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Pro finishing shops maintain tight controls. Temperature, humidity, finish viscosity, air pressure, fluid volume, spray patterns – it’s a lot of factors that have to work together to produce the perfect finish, and measurement and control are the only ways to ensure a top quality result. We tend to be a little more loosey-goosey in home shops. Controlling temperature can be a challenge in itself; as for humidity, we’re pretty much at the mercy of the elements. And while we may have to accept what Nature does, there are many elements of spray finishing that we can – and should...

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