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Newsletter #149

Patience is a Winning Virtue in Finishing

This month, John Darroch, President and CEO of Apollo Sprayers and, was once again judge of “Excellence in Finishing” at the Design in Wood Competition and Exhibition at the San Diego County Fair. The level of craftsmanship and quality is incredibly high. One of the top three winners who was a first time participant said his heart sank as to his own prospects as he saw the amazing level of workmanship and artistry in the show. For this month’s feature article, we thought you’d enjoy seeing the three winning projects for Excellence in Finishing and learning how the results were achieved. In interviewing the three winners, David Marr, of San Diego,  CA, Thomas Stockton of Montgomery Creek, CA and Donald Van Winkle of Huntington Beach, CA, one necessary characteristic came across loud and clear: patience.

When you read the article about these winning finishers’ efforts, you will notice that each one spent hours in research, planning and design.  All three winners said that when they reached a problem point, instead of pressuring themselves to move forward, when it might be a mistake, they would step away for the project and come back to it later – sometimes weeks later – after they had a chance to come up with a solution. It is why their projects took a long time to achieve, but the rewards are there for you to see.

I should also mention to you that Apollo was selected as a semi-finalist for The Challenger’s Award at IWF in Atlanta in August for our newest most 2014-ca-semi-finalist-logo-web-1-.jpgadvanced HVLP System, the PRECISION-5. This 5 stage HVLP Turbospray system was recognized for its Power, Precision and Performance as well as the contribution to protecting our environment with its many unique features.

This system provides woodworkers with outstanding finish performance. Saving 40% on paint consumption while providing clean, dry air are just two benefits along with great finish results being enjoyed with this system. We’ll tell you more about the benefits of the PRECISION-5 in next month’s newsletter.

Apollo Sprayers will be at IWF in Atlanta, August 20-23 at Booth 5453. Come by and visit and see how HVLP Turbospray is leading the way to smoothest, finest finish!

As I have a full and busy travel schedule this month I will leave you now to read this month’s newsletter as I get organized to hit the road.

Good finishing to you!

bill boxer signature

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

Product of the Month: Aqua Coat Gel Stains

If you’ve been looking for a stain with the convenience of a gel that works indoors and is safe for all kinds of uses, Aqua Coat Gel Stains are just what you need. They are specially formulated for indoor use and are well suited to smaller projects such as turnings and scroll saw work. 

They can be used on MDF, Particle Board and even synthetic wood furniture for touch up. Gel Stain Clear can be used as the topcoat. It is safe to use on children’s toys and furniture. recommends sanding with Micro-Mesh to create a smooth as glass finish. Gel Stain is available in 8 Wood Tone colors, plus Gel Stain Clear. The finisher can color the Clear Gel Stain with any Acrylic Paints formulated for crafts and hobbies.

Feature Article: Judged the Best: Excellence in Finishing from the San Diego Fair


Each year, John Darroch, President and CEO of Apollo Sprayers and, judges the awards for the Excellence in Finishing at the prestigious Design in Wood (or @designinwood) show at the San Diego County Fair. Winners receive gift certificates from

This combined competition and exhibit is a collaboration between the San Diego Fine Woodworkers Association and the San Diego County Fair. Woodworkers from all over the world compete for honors in the largest show of its kind anywhere (according to Fine Woodworking magazine). Exquisite furniture, musical instruments, carvings, clocks, children’s toys and more — many museum quality — are included. Many pieces are for sale directly from the woodworker.

This year, as always, the standards were extremely high, David Marr’s “Art Nouveau/Deco Vanity” won First Place in Finishing and was also awarded Best in Show. READ MORE

Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner: Durable Finish for Enclosed Spaces

A key factor in choosing a finish for an enclosed space such as a drawer, cabinet interior, humidor or a small room such as a wine or liquor cellar is residual odor. All types of varnishes and lacquers outgas smelly solvents for many days or weeks depending on the thickness applied, the temperature, and the air movement. If you can’t allow that much time, you need to choose another finish.

The two that will leave the least residual odor are shellac and water-based finish. Both contain solvents that evaporate fairly slowly (alcohol in shellac and glycol ether in water-based finish), but they leave almost no odor.

It’s still best to allow adequate time for the finish to dry completely. A way to test is to press your nose up against the finish and take a whiff. If there’s absolutely no odor, the finish is dry.

Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner: Thinning Polyurethane with Naphtha

Naphtha dries (evaporates) much faster than mineral spirits (paint thinner). This leads many to believe that thinning polyurethane with naphtha will make it dry faster. This is not entirely the case.

Like all varnishes, oil-based polyurethane dries in two steps. The first is evaporation of the thinner. The second, and much longer step, is by the crosslinking brought about by the introduction of oxygen from the air.

When you apply polyurethane, you notice that it stays wet on the surface for a short time as the thinner evaporates. Then the finish goes into a tacky or sticky stage for an hour or longer. This is the length of time it takes for the oxygen-induced crosslinking to occur. Adding a faster-evaporating thinner doesn’t speed this crosslinking.

What the naphtha (or paint thinner) does do, however, is thin the finish, so you’re brushing or spraying less solids. After the thinner evaporates, the thickness of the finish will be less, so there is less to oxidize and the finish will dry a little faster. The problem, though, as you have already guessed, is that you will have to apply more coats to get the same total thickness, so the total drying time may actually be longer.


Finishing Tip by Bob Flexner: Stir Homemade Shellacstir-every-hour-or-so.jpg

Shellac is available in two forms: as a liquid in cans you buy at paint stores and home centers, and as flakes you buy from woodworking suppliers. The advantage of dissolving flakes (in denatured alcohol) is to ensure the shellac you use is fresh. The fresher the dissolved shellac the quicker it hardens and the more water-resistant the dried finish.

Unfortunately, the sole remaining supplier of already-dissolved shellac no longer supplies a date of manufacture, so you have no idea how long the can has sat on a shelf or been stored in a box somewhere. When finishing important surfaces, it’s best to dissolve your own flakes.

When you do this, be sure to stir fairly often, at least once an hour. Otherwise the flakes will soften and stick together at the bottom of the container. They will form a lump that will be very difficult to break up.

Though this tip may sound silly and obvious, I know from my own experience that it’s not. The first time I dissolved shellac flakes, I simply combined them with the alcohol and left the jar alone. Next day I realized what I should have done.

To make the dissolving go faster, you can reduce the flakes to powder (for example, in a blender) or place the container in hot water. With both methods you still need to stir, however, until the shellac has dissolved.