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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 the twigs, the result is known as “sticklac”, but if it is knocked free from the twigs using wooden mallets, the shellac is known as “grainlac.” Both are sent for additional processing. As it is being processed, the story of shellac does not get any richer. Originally, shellac was ground in mills, sifted through screens then soaked in large containers of water. At some point a worker jumped into the containers and, with his feet, rubbed the shellac against rough-textured sidewalls to break open the seeds and release the bug remains. The concoction was then rinsed and spread onto concrete floors to dry. While this was how it all happen in the past, today the process is handled by machines.

 

2. Bob Flexner on Coating Over:

There are many situations, however, where applying a coat or two of finish on top of what is already there can make the old deteriorated or damaged finish look new again. Coating over an old finish has the great advantages of avoiding the always-messy stripping process and greatly reducing the amount of work involved.

But applying a finish over an existing finish is one of the riskiest operations you can do in finishing because it can result in any number of problems. These include blistering, wrinkling, fish eye, orange peel and poor bonding.

Problems are difficult to predict, but there are three measures you can take to minimize your risk:
• Make sure the surface is clean.

• Make sure the surface is dull

• Avoid using a finish that contains a solvent that could attack the existing coating.

 

3. Bill Perry on Creating a Spray Station:

You’re much better off if you can position your spray station near a window. That way you really can extract any fumes and overspray and vent them outdoors. If you’re lucky enough to have access to the outside, it’s worthwhile to construct some panels that can be placed on either side of the window, effectively funneling air movement outside.
Sheets of foam house insulation work admirably for this. They can be attached together (and tacked to the floor) with duct tape when you use them, and then stored against a wall when they’re not needed. Position one panel on either side of the window and then place panels on top of these to maximize the amount of air being drawn through your spray setup.

 

4. Bob Flexner: Removing Wine Stains from Unfinished Wood

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 will be an even color.

5. Charles Neil on Why Waterbornes

If you take a little time and use the proper equipment, you will find that you also can lay out a super slick finish using the new waterborne topcoats. The advantages of waterborne finishes are huge. Waterborne finishes are not flammable and are non toxic unlike solvent-based finishes. Better for your health and safety not to mention the reduced insurance rates! Personally, I have found that the durability and workability are both superb.

 

6. Bill Boxer at the Fair in Beijing

Immediately a large crowd formed around the front of the vehicle. I watched in shock. I saw our representative take a sharp knife and cut a long gouge into the hood of this brand new vehicle. I almost fell on the floor. In an instant the staff was at work. They sanded the gouge with finer and finer grits. Then they filled the gouge and sanded again. Paint colors can be computer matched and of course there was an Apollo Spray Gun waiting and loaded with the exact color. The filled in gouge was sprayed as the crowd and I waited breathlessly. A few minutes later I could challenge anyone to find the gouge.

 

7. Bob Flexner on Wood Shavings:

Almost all old furniture is finished with either shellac or lacquer (shellac until the 1920s, lacquer since). Both of these finishes dissolve into a messy “gunk” when paint stripper is applied. On complex surfaces, such as turnings and carvings, an easy way to remove the gunk is to wipe it off with handfuls of wood shavings from a jointer or planer.
The shavings soak up the gunk and you can remove them easily with a stiff bristle brush.

If you don’t have a planer or jointer of your own, you may be able to find the shavings at a local woodworking or cabinet shop.

 

8. Bob Flexner on What to Do When Stain Dries Too Fast

Unlike oil stains, water-based stains and lacquer stains dry very fast. On large or complex surfaces you may have trouble getting the excess stain wiped off before it dries. If this happens, you’ll be left with streaks like those shown in the accompanying picture.
If you have this situation, try to correct it by quickly wiping the surface with more of the same stain. The fresh stain will reliquify the streaks unless the stain has dried too much. Then work faster to remove the excess or work on smaller areas at a time.
If the stain dries hard, you may have to use paint stripper to get the streaks removed. Then sand lightly and restain. You don’t need to sand all the color out of the wood before restaining.
To avoid the problem to begin with, divide your project into smaller sections and work on each of these separately, or get a second person to help—one applying the stain, the other wiping off.

9. Charles Neil on Sanding:

Begin with the finest paper you can, like a 1200 grit or 1500 grit grade or equivalent for simple dust nibs and so forth, if you need to go to a 600 or 800 for more grain leveling, that’s fine, then move through the grits, you can jump grits, no issue. I can go from a 600 to 1000, then to 2000 and so forth. Using Micro Mesh, 1500 is a matte finish and good for leveling, 3200 is a nice satin, 6000 is a nice semi-gloss and 8000 is a super nice gloss. The grits in between allow for control to customize the sheen to your taste so getting a few extra grits and experimenting is a good idea.

In the ‘P’ grades, 1000 is a matte, 2000 a satin, 3000 semi-gloss and 4000 gloss. Runs, drips and so forth need to be leveled separately using a coarser grit. Super fine grits like this will float over and not cut it flat. You can take a coarser grit like 320 and a block and level the run or drip prior to using the finer grits. Remember you’re sanding, so be careful on edges and moldings. A quick rub with the grain will usually suffice.
Without question, most rubbed surfaces will have a cloudy or hazy look, not what we want and while waxing helps it will usually streak and smear some. Often this is a result of solvent still in the finish not allowing the wax to fully harden. As well, vigorous rubbing can melt the wax and cause it to be streaked, using cold water to final rub the wax can help.

Here is where we can borrow from the auto body industry, where rubbing new finishes is a daily thing. Check out the local auto body supply store for some ‘swirl’ remover or‘glaze’. They can direct you, it’s basically a cleaner/wax product designed to use over fresh finish and a little goes a long way. Apply a light coat and buff it off and your done, you will have a finish that will be a thing of beauty.



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