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Newsletter #118


Finishing First Involves Learning from the Past

A few weeks ago I was contacted by one of our trusted contributors to website, Bob Flexner. Bob and I go back a long way with finishing and HVLP technology. Bob wanted to talk about an article he is writing for a magazine on “The History of HVLP.”

We spent a few hours on the telephone remembering the early days of HVLP. We reminisced about the HVLP companies that have come and gone and all the representatives we both knew. We talked about how Apollo is one of the original founding manufacturers of HVLP technology and the lone survivor. The other manufacturers have either been swallowed up by other companies or simply gone under.

In sharing thoughts, we talked about my experiences in a new marketplace back in the early and mid-1980’s and customer reaction to the technology. We remembered the early appearance of some of the models. Apollo actually had a blue one-stage turbine that was great with solvent-based coatings. Our model 700 looked just like the space capsule it was named for and all our spray guns were bleeder style. We recalled how different the coatings world was back then and how hard it was to stay one step ahead of a rapidly changing world.

By the time we finished our conversation we were able to piece together an interesting history of how the Apollo spray system technology evolved from a simple piece of equipment, spraying rather thin coatings to a serious spray finishing tool using advanced technology. By the way, those 40 year old blue and red turbines are still working out there for finishers who are faithful to their old coatings.

Bob has long written articles and books on the subject of woodworking. We are happy to have him as one of our contributors and look forward to the article he is writing on “The History of HVLP” albeit this time for another publication, Woodshop News.

We will be sure to share and link to this article once available. Meanwhile, we’re happy to share a lot of Bob Flexner’s wisdom with you. In this month’s feature article, Bob is tackling a controversial subject, when to refinish old furniture. Bob will let you know when it’s appropriate and when it’s not. I learned a lot from his article and I hope those of us who get confused by a certain television show will get some good guidelines.

bill boxer signature

Sr. Vice President and COO

Apollo Sprayers International, Inc.

Product of the Month-BLOXYGEN

Note: There was a misprint on an earlier version of this article stating that BLOXYGEN contained “safe pure oxygen gas.” This was an error and has been corrected. Pure oxygen would not be safe, as it is highly flammable. We apologize. The following statement is correct and BLOXYGEN is made of inert argon gas, which is completely safe.

Using powerful but safe inert argon gas, BLOXYGEN lets you store leftover finishes as long as you want. BLOXYGEN works by keeping air and moisture away from products that react with our environment: varnish, stain, paint, polyurethane, glues, inks, etc. Anything harmed in the presence of oxygen or moisture will be saved when stored with BLOXYGEN.

Ten Great Reasons to Use BLOXYGEN:

  1. BLOXYGEN saves time, money, and waste.
  2. BLOXYGEN will let you use all your finish, not just the first half.
  3. BLOXYGEN is safe to the environment and based on naturally occurring gases we all breathe.
  4. BLOXYGEN has been independently tested and proven effective. We have a patent pending!
  5. BLOXYGEN eliminates spray gun clogs and jams.
  6. BLOXYGEN will reduce hazardous waste.
  7. BLOXYGEN will allow you to store leftovers safely in their original, labeled containers.
  8. BLOXYGEN allows you to save even more money by purchasing product in large quantity.BLOXYGEN works on varnish, polyurethanes, oil-based paints, stains, resins, glues, wood fillers, inks, and putty…almost anything that reacts with oxygen or moisture will be saved.
  9. BLOXYGEN only costs about 12 cents per use!
  10. One can is enough to protect approximately 45 quarts of coating material

Finishing Feature Article by Bob Flexner: Antiques Roadshow and the Destruction of Old Furniture

“Let the record show that the Antiques Roadshowgenerally agrees with this notion: Well-conceived and well-executed refinishing and restoration usually enhances the value of just about any piece of old furniture. Exceptions are those rare (often museum-quality) pieces that have somehow survived in great `original’ condition. If we say or imply the contrary, we should be called on it.”

Finishes deteriorate as they age. First they dull, then they begin to craze and crack. Over a very long time, finishes deteriorate because of contact with oxygen, called “oxidation.” But bright UV light (especially sunlight and fluorescent light) accelerates the deterioration so much that you can reasonably think of the deterioration as caused by light alone.

At some point in the life of better quality furniture (if it is to survive), the finish will likely have to be removed and replaced to renew the protection for the wood. Without a finish in good shape, furniture exposed to moisture or extreme humidity changes will warp, crack, joints and veneer will separate, and worst of all, the furniture will just look bad, which often leads within 10 or 20 years to it inhabiting a landfill. READ MORE

Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner: Repair Before Refinishing

Furniture that needs refinishing often needs some regluing or wood repair. It’s almost always best to do all the regluing, parts repair and parts replacements before doing the stripping. This is so that any glue seepage or damage you might cause happens on top of the old finish. When it is then removed with the stripping, so are the glue seepage and the damage.

The exceptions are when the wood is covered with paint or a heavy glaze and you need to patch or replace a part or some veneer but can’t see what the wood is. You will have to strip the paint or finish, or at least some of it, to reveal the wood.

Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner: Photographing Your Work

Other than arranging the object or objects you’re photographing in an attractive manner, the most important requirement for achieving good photographs is getting the camera adjusted to the ambient light.

This used to be a really big problem back in the film days, but it is much easier with digital cameras. In fact, it is no problem at all when you use a “gray card.” This is typically an 8-by-10-inch cardboard designed to reflect 18% of the light hitting it. It is gray in color (accounting for its name), and it’s available from most photography suppliers.

With any consumer or prosumer digital camera, set the white balance to “custom” and fill the frame with the gray card leaning up against the object you’re photographing. (You will probably have to zoom the lens.) Follow the instructions for the camera to evaluate the white balance.

This is a lot easier and usually more accurate than selecting one of the pre-sets for incandescent, cool-white fluorescent, sunlight, cloudy, etc. when you most likely have a mixture of these. For example, you may have daylight streaming in the windows of your shop, blending with cool-white fluorescents.

Setting the white balance for the gray card adjusts the camera for accurate colors under any light.

Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner: Wax Polish

If you are applying paste wax as a polish on top of a finish, you will always get a little better result with two coats. Let the first coat dry for at least a couple of hours, or overnight, before applying the second.

wax-adds-shineopt.jpgYou would think that one coat should be sufficient, and it is if all you want is scratch resistance and a little added shine. But my experience is that two coats, well buffed off with a dry cloth, always looks a little better and more even.

If you want to dull the surface simultaneously with the wax application, you can use #0000 steel wool to apply the first coat of wax. You could also do this in two steps: dull with steel wool, then apply the wax with a cloth. Using steel wool for the second coat accomplishes little more than removing the first coat while you’re applying the second.

If you don’t want to dull the surface, use a cloth to apply the wax—and never use steel wool to buff off the wax unless you want to remove it.

By the way, contrary to an often-repeated suggestion (especially for shellac finishes), such a thin coat of wax adds nothing to water protection. There will be beading and run off on vertical surfaces, but water sitting on a horizontal surface will penetrate the wax almost immediately. It will be the finish underneath that provides the protection against water getting into the wood.