The Finishing Store
Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in excerpt

Newsletter #125

Finishing Adventures Around the World

We are truly a worldwide company with representatives and distributors in Iceland, England, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Hungary, Turkey, Russia, Israel, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, South America, and China.

My job includes visiting our representatives and distributors, making sure they understand all aspects of our products and helping them succeed. Most recently I met our terrific representatives in England and in Turkey. Just as they learn from me, I learn from them as I watch their demonstrations and visit with their customers.

A little over a year ago our representative in China invited me to join him at an automotive trade exhibition in Beijing China. I did, and I must share with you probably the most astonishing demonstration I’ve seen done with an Apollo HVLP spray system.

Our representative picked me up at the airport in Beijing driving a brand new Mercedes SUV, a gorgeous blue.  (There is a reason why I noted the particular vehicle). Our representative in China is very confident, knows our equipment and is a successful salesperson. We headed straight for the trade exhibition hall. Having done many trade shows over the years and being accustomed to working indoors in a traditional booth or stand, I was surprised to find that we drove the vehicle into an open area between two closed building wings. Our representative and his assistants proceeded to set up two tents side by side. The vehicle was backed into one tent and the other was set up with brochures, signs and display items.

chinapeoplecaropt.jpgImmediately 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.

I saw the demo repeated 7 times in the 2 days I was there and it was perfect every time. That evening, after the show, we went to a banquet hall where I learned that our product had been chosen as one of the Top 20 Motor Industry Tools (Actually #2) as the most innovative product imported to China for the motor car industry there. I was honored to accept a beautiful plaque which was beautifully mounted in a case. Since then I have seen many creative demonstrations, but none as both frightening and stunning as this one.

chinaawardopt.jpgOn another subject, one thing was very noticeable in my travels. Safety issues differ around the world. I have seen companies making products you know and would easily recognize being sprayed with nitrocellulose lacquer by operators without respirators or even masks. More than once I saw people spraying and holding a lit cigarette between their lips while spraying volatile coatings. I got out of there fast.  

On another occasion I was in a woodshop that didn’t have safety guards on table saws. When I inquired about accidents I was told that usually when injuries occurred it was the fault of the operator. In another shop a massive amount of sanding was done by women without dust collection. I was told that women had sharper eyesight than men therefore able to do detail work better than men.

My travels have demonstrated to me how items we all use can be produced at much less cost in some countries overseas. I am fully aware that lack of regulations help produce a lower priced product. I know that we all complain when we are expected to work within certain parameters.  Not only do we have to abide by the rules, but we must pay for the safety equipment too. This month will try to help out by discounting our safety equipment 20%. So have a productive month and stay safe.

Sr. Vice President and COO

Apollo Sprayers International, Inc.


Products of the Month: MSA Respirators and Safety Glasses

MSA call themselves the Safety Company because they are committed to making dependable, high-quality products, instruments, and services to help ensure each of their customers returns home safely at the end of their work day. They have been operating since 1914 when they began in the field of mining safety equipment and introduced the revolutionary Edison Electric Cap Lamp in 1914. And in the decades since, they have been at the forefront of hundreds of safety innovations that protect workers, consistently pushing the envelope in ways that provide the highest levels of safety for workers across the world. is proud to carry MSA Safety Glasses, Respirators and Filters so that all of our customers can work safely with excellent protection. MSA meets the highest safety standards. Would you want anything less when it comes to protecting your lungs and your sight? We thought not.

Finishing Feature Article by Glen Huey: Protect Your Inlay

One of my earliest furniture projects was a Sheraton Field bed that I built when I was 14 years old. Later, another version of that same bed was built. This time, however, I inlaid small birdseye panels into the square sections of the mahogany posts – an idea that caught my eye while surfing museum books.

From nearly the beginning of my furniture building career, my favorite finish has used aniline dye to color my project with top coats of shellac and/or lacquer. As I contemplated how to finish the bed, I was concerned that all the work put into those birdseye panels would be for naught if my inlay became muted as dye was added. I believed that the distinctive figure and light color of the birdseye inlay against the reddish hue of the mahogany would be enough of a contrast to keep the inlay a real eye catcher in the finished READ MORE


Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner: Linseed Oil Gets Darker in the Darklinseed-oil-darkens2.jpg

Linseed oil (both raw and boiled) darkens in the absence of light. That is, it darkens in the opposite conditions than those affecting most finishes and woods. These usually darken when exposed to light, especially high UV sunlight or fluorescent light.

Take a look at the accompanying photo of two cans of linseed oil in the process of going through their darkening stages. The can on the left shows fresh overspill, the slightly yellow color you expect from linseed oil when you are using it. The can on the right has been stored in a dark cabinet for several years, and the overspill has darkened significantly.

So what can you learn from this that is useful? That a linseed-oil-finished object will darken in time, especially if it is kept in low-light conditions. This can be an advantage on some woods such as bird’s-eye and curly maple, highlighting the figure, and on cherry and walnut, producing a warmer color. But it can be a disadvantage on “white” woods that you want to remain white, such as maple and birch.

To get the darkening effect along with a more durable finish than linseed oil, apply a first coat of the oil, let it cure thoroughly (maybe a week in a warm room), then apply the finish of your choice.


Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner: Murphy’s Oil Soap

During my career refinishing furniture, Murphy’s Oil Soap has morphed from a regionally-available natural soap made with potassium hydroxide (similar to lye) and vegetable oil to a nationally-available furniture-care product. I watched this transformation happen and find the story fascinating.

I find it fascinating because furniture and woodwork don’t get dirty very often and washing them with soap and water when they aren’t dirty can only cause problems. Water gets under a finish through cracks and splits and causes the finish to peel. Everyone knows this at some level (just look at the peeling paint on building exteriors) so how did Murphy’s pull this off?

Some genius marketing!

Murphy’s was started in Ohio in 1889 and owned by the Murphy family until 1991 when the company was bought by Colgate/Palmolive. I called Murphy’s in the late 1970s as the transformation was happening. I spoke to a Murphy descendant and got the following story confirmed.

In the early 1970s, Homer Formby started selling his lemon oil by claiming that it replaced the natural oils in wood. Never mind that furniture woods don’t contain natural oils and that a finish is there to keep liquids out of the wood. Through 30-minute TV infomercials and thousands of appearances in shopping malls and at antique clubs, Formby was able to implant this false idea into the minds of most Americans as fact.

To wit: Wood contains natural oils that should be replaced regularly with a lemon-oil furniture polish, which is really little more than mineral spirits (petroleum distillate) and a lemon scent.

At the same time, manufacturers of other furniture-care products used advertising to convince people that they needed to “clean” their furniture often with furniture polish.

So along comes this small soap manufacturer that had found a local market selling a natural soap made from vegetable oil and alkali rather than animal fat and alkali, and its product was called “oil” soap! Someone realized that all they had to do was advertise the soap as a furniture-care product and people would draw the conclusion themselves that they were replacing the “natural oils” in wood at the same time they were cleaning their furniture.

Murphy’s Oil Soap was transformed from a natural soap to a furniture-care product, sold in the furniture-care section of supermarkets rather than in the soap section.

I hate it that people are so often duped into thinking they should wash their furniture on a regular basis with soap and water. But I stand in awe at the impact of marketing.