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Expert's Corner — woodworking

DEALING WITH THE CHERRY BLOTCHING PROBLEM

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DEALING WITH THE CHERRY BLOTCHING PROBLEM

Cherry was long thought of as the poor man’s mahogany and was used as a substitute for mahogany. But as quality mahogany has become harder to get, cherry has become increasing popular and is now widely thought of as a quality wood in its own right. Though cherry has a beautiful color and is easy to work, it is difficult to finish nicely because of its tendency to blotch. Blotching is uneven coloring caused especially by stains, but also by just a clear finish, that leaves some areas darker than others. Everyone wants to know how to avoid blotching in...

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TIP: UV Varnishes Only Give So-So Protection

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TIP: UV Varnishes Only Give So-So Protection

Normally, I use the accompanying photo to show that mass-marketed varnishes sold in home centers and most paint stores for exterior finishing don’t contain any more UV resistance than common interior varnishes. But the panel also shows that even the much more expensive varnishes sold in marinas still aren’t perfect at resisting UV light. I stained the panel with red dye (because red dye fades faster than most other colors) and coated the panel with five coats of four different varnishes. From left to right, a popular boat varnish from a marina, two common varnishes sold in home centers for...

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Protect Your Inlay

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Protect Your Inlay

One of my earliest furniture projects was a Sheraton Field bed that I built when I was 14 years old. Later, another version of that same bed was built. This time, however, I inlaid small birdseye panels into the square sections of the mahogany posts – an idea that caught my eye while surfing museum books. From nearly the beginning of my furniture building career, my favorite finish has used aniline dye to color my project with top coats of shellac and/or lacquer. As I contemplated how to finish the bed, I was concerned that all the work put into...

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TIP: Understanding Gloss and Satin

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TIP: Understanding Gloss and Satin

It’s the last coat you apply that establishes the sheen of your finish. In other words, if the sheen you’re getting is not to your liking, just apply another coat of finish on top with the sheen you want, and that’s what you’ll get. Sheens range from high gloss to dead flat. Gloss reflects an image almost like a mirror. Flat disrupts the image so much that you may not be able to see it at all. All finishes except gloss contain flatting agent that is responsible for the flatter look. This flatting agent (tiny particles of silica, which you...

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Finishing Nightmares

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Ironically I just finished making a DVD by the same title, but that is not what this is about. I get a lot of emails from folks who have tried to get a good finish by following poor advice, but usually it is the result of poor products, they just don’t know it. There is an old cliché, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” and nowhere does this prove truer than in finishing. I got an email from a guy who was trying to get a fully filled, high gloss finish on a red oak...

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