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Newsletter #119

May Your Holidays Be Merry and Bright

As I write, Thanksgiving dinner is over and the shopping season has officially begun. Yesterday there was a report of a shopper pepper spraying other customers who were also trying to grab a limited bargain in a big store thereby pointing out the virtues of shopping online. Apparently the pepper spraying customer got away and I assume didn’t get the desired bargain. I felt so superior, sitting at my computer, away from the madness, and thinking about gifts to give and to receive.

Many of the gifts that I treasure most were made by my wonderful friends in the woodworking world. Not surprisingly, these are the same kinds of gift that I like to give.

billy-composite.jpgMy friend and woodworker extraordinaire, Gary, makes exquisite frames for rare butterflies. Mike, our director of education, gifted us with a wonderful turned peppermill. Every day we use and enjoy these gifts from other friends: a cutting board, a set of wooden trivets and a turned vase for dried flowers. Yesterday I visited a workshop and bought a beautiful maple serving board. I can’t wait to give it to some very special people. I wanted to show you the magnificent mahogany desk that our friend Juergen made for his son Eric, who works in our finance department. I thought it would be nice this season to show our readers some of the handmade gifts received or made by staff members. The photos you see are proof that finished wood projects are a true sign of care taken, of dedication to making something beautiful and of how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.



This year my holiday gifts are going to be my own photographs in picture frames I have made. Throughout the year I have photographed my friend’s homes, either when their yards were in full bloom, or when snow had just fallen. I even have a photo of a house in early morning, after an ice storm, just as the sun came through the ice covered trees. I enjoyed taking the photos, and building and finishing the frames just as I want them. I think the recipients will greatly appreciate both the photos and the frames. Something personal, original and creative is always an excellent gift.


Since woodworking is always on my mind, I’ve concocted some useful gifts from For a friend who is only an occasional woodworker, I made up a bag filled with microfiber cloths and gloves, and zip sanders with various grits. Any household can use these practical things. My oldest son is getting an Erecta-Rack for the garage in his new house. The Erecta-Rack will be a terrific help as he tries to stay organized and save space. This will please his wife, too. My second son, a bicycle builder, is getting a Painter’s Pyramid Finishing Turntable. He paints and finishes many small parts and it will be very helpful. When he finishes large pieces with his Apollo 835VR, he ingeniously suspends them from a wire contraption he built. I’m also using Bloxygen as a stocking stuffer – great for the wine buff as well as the woodworker.

Last month Charles Neil, teacher, writer and woodworker, posted a beautifully crafted bombe box on eBay. The box sold for $2025.00. The proceeds went to the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization close to Charles’ heart. The mission of Wounded Warrior is to honor and empower wounded warriors. We at The are proud to be associated with such a creative and generous man. In this issue of our newsletter Charles tells us how he finished the stunning box.

bill boxer signature

Sr. Vice President and COO

Apollo Sprayers International, Inc.


Product of the Month: Micro Fiber Gloves

We all know that Micro Fiber material picks up much more dust and dirt than conventional materials without releasing the dust back on to your project – in fact it holds up to 7 times its weight in dirt and liquid. Now you can get all this in a super handy pair of Micro Fiber Gloves. The gloves are especially useful for handling projects where you don’t want to leave fingerprints, when inserting glass into a piece of cabinetry, or anywhere you need to reach without leaving a trace of lint or residue. Plus you have a hands-on connection to your work at a critical stage. Microfiber gloves let you get your fingers into tight corners, carvings, and moldings and save time and headaches. Once you buy a pair for yourself, you’ll realize that almost everyone you know could use a pair!

Micro Fiber gloves are sold in a pair and can be worn on either hand and used wet or dry. The gloves are great for moving wood without contaminating the surface with finger oils or for wiping off dust between coats. The gloves can safely be thrown in the washing machine for easy cleaning and long life.

Finishing Feature Article by Charles Neil: A Winning Finish

Recently, I was involved in a “Woodworking Throw-Down” on the forums. In just a few days, I needed to create a table-top box to store remote controls and ‘stuff’ in.

So I pondered on it a bit, then settled on a “Bombe” style, with a contemporary flair, and maybe a little Asian influence. Not what most would expect from me, I do a lot of period work, but I also do a lot of contemporary, so this should be fun. I used 6/4 Tiger Maple and a piece of Curly Claro Walnut. The photo shows what we cooked up. 

Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner: How to Remove White Water Marks

Water marks on tabletops caused by sweaty glasses or sitting water can usually be removed, though not without some risk of damaging the finish. Professionals have access to an aerosol product called “blush remover” that restores the color to lacquer finishes. Blush remover doesn’t work well on shellac, water base or catalyzed finishes. If you use a blush remover, be sure to spray just a fine mist on the water ring. Don’t make the surface wet, and for sure, don’t touch the surface until it dries, which can take awhile.
Other than using a blush remover, you can try coating the mark overnight with an oily substance such as mayonnaise or cooking oil. Sometimes, this will cause the mark to fade somewhat, but usually not much.
The method that works on all finishes, except high-performance finishes such as conversion varnish, is to abrade off the watermark. The whiteness is almost always right at the surface of the finish, so it doesn’t take much rubbing. The trick is to avoid changing the sheen (gloss or satin) of the finish more than necessary. So your choice of abrasive is important.
Every situation is different. Here are some suggestions for abrasives to try, from finest (and least dulling) to coarsest: toothpaste and your finger; a very fine, usually white, nylon abrasive pad; and #0000 steel wool. You can reduce the size of the scratches (and therefore the dulling) of the nylon pad and steel wool by using a wax or oil lubricant. If you can’t get the sheen of the rubbed area to blend in with the surrounding surface, you may have to rub out the entire tabletop.
Be aware that heat marks also show up white but are usually more difficult to remove (though the methods are the same). The damage may go deeper into the finish.Black rings are in the wood and can’t be removed without removing the finish first.

Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner: How to Know How Much to Sand

One of the biggest problems for beginners is knowing how much to sand to remove all the marks created by jointers and planers. Here’s a trick you can use to indicate when you have sanded enough.

Draw some pencil marks on the wood, then sand until these marks are gone. You could even do this a second time to be extra sure.

Use these pencil marks only when sanding with your coarsest grit sandpaper. Don’t draw the marks with the finer grits. Very little sanding is needed with the finer grits to remove the coarser grit scratches. It’s most efficient to sand out all the problems with just the coarsest grit sandpaper.

Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner: Avoiding Lint

It’s important to use lint-free rags when wiping on and wiping off oil and wiping-varnish finishes. If a rag contains any lint, it will hang up on wood grain and stick in the finish. Many stores and mail-order catalogues carry lint-free cloth.

You can also use old rags from around the house, but T-shirt-type material is seldom lint free. I often use durable paper towels from home centers or auto-supply stores. These paper towels come in boxes or rolls and are white or blue in color. As long as I change to a fresh towel once in a while on large projects, I don’t experience lint problems.

If some lint does stick in the finish, sand it out with fine sandpaper. Then apply at least one more coat of finish.