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Newsletter #115

Different Strokes for Different Finishers.

This month I want to talk about the many different ways to achieve the same end. How does a woodworker decide whose advice or methods to try? This month’s article by well known woodworker, Bob Flexner, sometimes has a different point of view from a previous article on the same topic by our good friend and woodworking expert, Charles Neil.

How does this happen? Since the introduction of our monthly newsletter, we have been pleased to attract some excellent guest writers in woodworking. We started with one writer and are now up to four expert writers. We decided to give our writers free rein in selecting their topics. It was inevitable that at some point we would receive an article on a previously printed topic as we just did on rubbing out a finish.

I read both articles and realized that each has much to offer. Some points agreed, some said the same things differently and some of the methods were completely different. I also have my own ways of rubbing out a finish and I personally use some of these techniques and definitely not others. I agree most certainly that preparation and curing are key. I love Bob’s sniff test to see if a finish is cured. I never jump grits the way Charles does and I never use steel wool the way Bob does. Nor is overspray ever an issue for me when I spray, as Bob suggests is the norm. Does this mean they are wrong? Absolutely not! You can be sure that each method described will produce a good result. I will test these methods that appeal to me and perhaps incorporate them into my finishing. There is so much to learn from different voices. It helps each of us to formulate our own ideas and opinions on the subject.

john-awfs.jpgIn this link you can read the article in our June issue by Charles Neil on Rubbing Out a Finish. This month we offer the same subject written by Bob Flexner. You can form your own opinions and ideas from reading both as did I.

BTW-did you hear about Apollo Sprayers’ success at the AWFS Woodworking Show in Las Vegas? We are so proud that our latest and greatest machine the Apollo 1050VR was a Sequoia Award finalist in the search for the most innovative tools in 2011.

bill boxer signature

Sr. Vice President and COO
Apollo Sprayers International, Inc.

Product of the Month: Apollo 1050VR Turbine

Apollo Model 1050VR is a technically advanced and powerful 5-stage turbine providing 22% more power than alternative five-stage turbine motors and 90%+ transfer efficiency. Designed to atomize “green” coatings including waterbornes and other high viscosity coatings, the 1050VR has an array of unique features: variable-speed control and LCD read-out of atomizing pressure accurate to 0.10PSI, Pressure Control System (PCS) controls motor speed, voltage and amperage worldwide, adjusts for altitude and barometric pressure. The FreeFlo filter warning LED indicates when filters are restricted. Should your motor begin to overheat, the automatic thermal overload protection shuts it down, then it lets you restart when safely cooled. Model 1050VR meets or exceeds the toughest environmental standards. Find out more about the 1050VR and see if it is right for your finishing needs.

Feature Article By Bob Flexner:

Rubbing a Finish: The Key to Quality

Of all the steps in finishing the one that people seem most hesitant about is “rubbing.” Yet rubbing a finish is as simple as sanding wood, and rubbing is the only step in finishing that can raise the quality of your work from average to special. No matter how careful you are, you can’t apply a perfect finish. A brush always leaves brush marks, and a spray gun can leave some orange peel. Worse, there’s always some dust in the air that can settle and stick to the finish. Rubbing removes these flaws, and, in addition, improves the tactile qualities of the finish surface. To overcome any fear you might have of rubbing a finish, apply several coats of a film-building finish to some scrap pieces of veneered plywood or MDF and practice. READ MORE.

Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner: Do I Need to Finish Both Sides?

A pervasive myth in the woodworking community is that you should finish both sides of wood, especially tabletops, to reduce the likelihood of warping. This myth has been carried to the extremes of finishing insides of chests-of-drawers, cabinets and drawers.

Especially for the undersides of tabletops and the insides of drawers and cabinets, it’s often a good idea to apply a finish for looks, feel and ease of cleaning. But the finish does almost nothing to prevent warps. All your experience tells you this.

For example, finishing undersides or insides of furniture made before the 1920s was very unusual. If tops from this early period have warped, as shown in the example, they have always cupped on the topside. This is the opposite of what you would expect if you think the warp could have been caused by leaving the underside unfinished to shrink more as conditions in buildings have become increasingly drier.

Plane sawn wood that hasn’t been dried adequately or has been moved to a drier climate can sometimes warp, adjusting to the drier atmosphere. But no finish, except possibly thickly applied epoxy resin, does any more than slow the process a little.

Deck boards laid randomly and finished on the top always cup, even though you would expect the boards to bow as the bottom sides dry out and shrink faster.

The true cause of warping, other than for wood that hasn’t been dried properly, is the topside or exposed side being wetted and dried out over and over causing “compression shrinkage.” The wood cells try to swell but can’t due to the wood’s thickness. So they compress to oval shapes and don’t resume their previous cylindrical shapes when they dry out.

The cells compress further and further every time they go through the swell/shrink cycle. The wood shrinks on that side, eventually cupping. If the cycle is allowed to continue long enough, splits develop. You can see this clearly on decks, which go through the wet/dry cycle countless times.

On tabletops that are frequently wiped with a damp cloth, it’s necessary to keep the finish in good shape to prevent moisture from getting to the wood. This is the way to prevent warping.

Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner:  Linseed Oil and Polyurethane

I’ve heard it suggested that linseed oil (raw or boiled) should be applied to wood floors
before applying oil-based polyurethane. Various reasons are given: seal the wood,
establish a better bond, or add color.

Doing this is risky, however. Raw linseed oil can take months to dry. Boiled linseed oil
can take a week or longer deep in the large pores of oak.

If you apply polyurethane before the linseed oil is thoroughly dry, the linseed oil and
polyurethane will mix right on the wood and create an oil/varnish blend, which will never
get hard. It would be like brushing or spraying a wet coat of Danish Oil and not wiping
off the excess.

The finish will be soft and it will scratch easily, when what you surely want on a floor
is a very hard film of polyurethane. The finish could also be sticky, which would not be
functional at all on a floor.

Finishing Bloopers! How I Learned to Shut the Door by Bill Boxer

I was just completing a piano top using a 60 sheen nitrocellulose coating on walnut. I was a happy guy. It was gorgeous. I walked out of my clean, well-kept spray area. Did the door close tight behind me? Apparently not. When I came back through the open door a big fat juicy fly was now part of my gorgeous piano top. More work! I certainly learned my lesson. I work hard to keep my spray area free of flying intruders, among other things.