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Newsletter #109

Woodworking Our Way Through Winter

Here in New York, we’ve been inundated with months of snow, ice and slush. When the weather outside is awful, it’s hard to plan outings, shop and get going. But it is a great time to work in the shop, plan projects and learn from experts who write on woodworking sites, blogs and magazines. I especially like looking at photos of both equipment and finished projects.

At we want to become one of your useful resources for finishing information. Starting this month you’ll have multiple experts writing informative articles to make our readers more knowledgeable. It takes a lifetime of woodworking to build a knowledge-base and our writers have several lifetimes to call on!  

Our resident expert, successful author Bob Flexner, will continue his articles and tips. This month George Cash, an experienced manufacturer of water-based products, writes about the background of water-based coatings and how he formulates a coating.  Next month Glen Huey, well known author and editor, DVD host and teacher joins us. You can also look forward to articles by Charles Neil. Charles has been building furniture for 30 years and has a real down to earth style of teaching. There is always something new to learn and we think you’ll find that is more than just a store, it’s a store of knowledge as well!

Bill Boxer
Sr. Vice President and COO
Apollo Sprayers International, Inc.
[email protected]

Featured Product – Split Ends are Good!

In his article this month George Cash explains why split ends on brushes, (the technical term is flagged) are best for brushing water-based coatings. It’s good to buy the very best synthetic brush you can find. Nour AquaGlide Plus Nylon Fine Bristle Brushes are hand made and have wooden handles. High quality brushes work best for water based coatings because they won’t shed, they pick up the coating easily and you can clean them.  It’s a good idea to start with a brush that has been dipped in water and then shake it out. Work quickly and when you are finished, go away for a while, and when you return the coating will have flattened out. Clean your brush with a brush cleaner and it will last a long time.

Finishing by Flexner: Blocking Fish Eye with Shellac

Fish eye is a cratering or ridging in the finish right after application (brush or spray). It is caused by silicone in the wood. The silicone is an oil that is commonly included in furniture polishes, hand creams and other household products. The oil is very slick and prevents the finish from leveling out.  All finishes are susceptible to fish eye if the silicone contamination is great enough. But for most situations shellac isn’t affected by the silicone. A coat of shellac will block the silicone so another finish can be applied on top without a problem.

On this sample, I applied silicone to the entire panel. Then I applied a coat of shellac to the right half. Finally, I sprayed lacquer over the entire panel. You can see that the shellac blocked the problem. It will do this for any finish.

Finishing Feature Article: Exploring the New Generation of Water-Based Finishes By George Cash

“If a true water-based finish line is produced correctly, every ingredient used in the manufacturing will be dispersible in plain water.”

Water-based finishes have been around for many years. Much like the latex house paints of years gone by, they have been undergoing constant changes and improvements. Several years ago, any self-respecting painting contractor would only use the old oil-based paints with linseed oil primers. But, in today’s commercial house painting industry, almost no one is using these oil-based products. Painting contractors have switched to the highly improved water-based products. Indeed, water-based products have largely taken over that market. In addition to being low in VOCs (volatile organic compounds), the water-based products dry many times faster that the “oils,” so the surface won’t be ruined if it rains the next day.  Read More

Spray Finishing Tip: Door and Drawer Edges Under Sinks By Bob Flexner

Especially when spraying finishes, it’s common to get too little finish on the edges of cabinet doors and drawers. If these doors and drawers are installed under a sink in a kitchen or bathroom, splashed water will break through the thin finish, causing it to peel. There’s rarely anything you can do to fix this damage short of stripping and refinishing.  

So it’s important to get enough finish on the edges to begin with.

The most common method of spraying doors and drawers is to lay them flat and spray from above. Typically, the edges are sprayed at a 45° angle. This doesn’t get enough finish on the edges.

The first pass on the edge should be made all the way around at a 90° angle to the flat, horizontal surface. Then another pass at 45° should be made to hit the routed or shaped edges well. Finally, apply full passes perpendicular to the top surface. Do this with each coat.

Finishing Tip: Water-Based Finish Should Powder by Bob Flexner

As with all finishes, you should always sand the first coat of water-based finish smooth because it always dries rough to the touch. It’s also the best policy to sand additional coats smooth after they dry to remove dust nibs and other flaws, until the last coat, which you can leave as is.

Water-based finishes dry rapidly, almost as fast as the water evaporates from the finish. So the drying occurs quicker on hot or dry days and slower on cold or humid days.

 How do you know when the finish is dry? It powders on the sandpaper and on the surface. If the finish isn’t dry, it will gum up the sandpaper, and it won’t powder.

Each month our Finishing Experts provide a full-length article about finishing, plus an array of invaluable tips and tricks. Check out this month’s tips and browse through his finishing archive at the link below.