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Newsletter #170

 Greeting from Bill Boxer, Sr. Vice President,
             Apollo Sprayers International, Inc

 Our Birthday Celebration Continues.Our March Special is $50 off any  POWER Turbine System. 

 Click here for info on the super machine.

 In many parts of our country, as springtime is around the  corner  we start to think about new projects as warmer  weather  approaches. Often these projects involve painting and  finishing whether it be a house, a piece of furniture, a car, a boat or just something else around that needs refreshing. That opens up the subject of the viscosity of various products that we might use. Viscosity is the thickness or thinness of a paint or coating. 

Different application methods work best at different viscosities. We generally associate house paints as being thick. Common application is with a paint brush or roller. The goal is to cover and hide previously applied coats quickly and easily. Often we will finish or refinish a wood project with a clear coating like lacquer, polyurethane, varnish, waterbase, etc. Application method can be brush, wipe, dip, spray, etc. The goal with these products is to achieve a smooth surface. 

Here are a few thoughts when applying finishes to a wood project with clear coats. Lacquer is best applied by spray so let’s leave this coatings aside for a moment. Generally, polyurethane, varnish, and selected waterbase products can be applied by brush or spray. Often you can brush these products as offered straight from the can. What many do not realize is that by lowering the viscosity of the original product slightly with the appropriate related solvent/thinner you can enhance the end result with better leveling of the coating providing a smoother, flatter finish with fewer brush marks. We call this flow-out. 

The same is true when spraying coatings. I’ve seen finishers trying to apply product at too high a viscosity thereby getting an effect known as orange peel where the dried surface has a slight ripple to it rather than the desired flat smooth surface. The simple correction here is to thin or reduce the initial product more. This assists in making it easier for the atomizing air to break up the coating finer which leads to a finer and smoother end result. When you are looking for a finer or smoother finish multiple applications are better than attempting to apply too much in one application.

While this is generalized information, it should serve as a guide to easier results the first time around. As always, if you are more inquisitive or want more specifics for the coating you are applying and your individual application method, we are only a phone call away. 


                                          From the Apollo Sprayers Archive


                                  John Darroch surrounded by the original Apollo 700 systems.



Here is a link to Apollo Distributors where you can buy your Power Series Sprayer. 


Finishing Feature Article by Susan “Swooz” Hudson,


Black Dog Architectural Salvage

Roanoke, Virginia

After I graduated from college and started working professionally, my mother always told me to save my money and invest in a good pair of shoes, one nice dress, or a fine piece of furniture. Not me, I always put my money into the tools of my craft, my trade, my art. Whenever I could afford to, I always “invested” in a new brush.

A good brush, like any well made tool, makes your work easier and produces the best results.  A good brush is comparable to your favorite pair of comfortable, well-worn shoes, a thread bare but cozy bathrobe, or your best fitting pair of jeans…you just can’t replace them.  When my favorite pair of jeans start to fray and wear, that is when I take notice and start to nurse them along, wash them by hand, hang them to dry, treat them better.  If only I had been kinder to them in the beginning they might have lasted longer. To replace them is going to be a major chore and difficult. This applies to your finishing tools as well, especially your brushes. We all have our favorite brush, whether it is the one for painting trim, furniture, or fine art.  A good brush is like a best friend, you need to treat it with care from the beginning so it will last a lifetime.

Recently a customer asked me how I care for my brushes.  She had watched a video about brush care on u-tube and had some questions. The woman in the video instructed her audience to soak their brushes overnight in hot soapy water and then rinse them in the morning.  I gasped; not only is that wrong, it will ruin your brushes!  If you were to follow her instruction, one morning you would wake up to find a tub of bristles separated from swollen handles. Never SOAK your brushes in hot water, especially in hot soapy water, as this will soften the glue holding your bristles within the ferrule, cause your wooden handles to swell, and eventually your brush will just fall apart.

Another misnomer she suggested was to put your brush in a plastic bag and freeze it between uses. You can certainly bag your brush while you take a break, eat lunch, etc. but never freeze your brush as you are freezing the paint into the bristles. Read the side panel of your can of paint or finish, it states to keep the product in a climate controlled area and specifically says not to freeze, so why would you put your paint/finish brush in the freezer or refrigerator?  If you need to leave your project for a while simply bag the whole brush, or wrap the head of the brush in cellophane and rubber band it around the handle. You can even bag a brush over night, but not continuously, everything eventually needs a bath to be at its best.

The following steps should be used for the care of your natural bristle brushes when used with water-based paint and finish products. If you follow these practices your brushes should be in your hand for a lifetime.

Caring for Natural Bristle Brushes used with Water Based Paints

1. Always wash a new brush before you use itI use Dawn Liquid Detergent in the shop, but you can use most any detergent that doesn’t contain bleach.  Bleach will dry out your bristles, just like your hair. I squeeze the detergent into the palm of my hand and then carefully mash my brush bristles into the soap. Rinse with cool water. This will help remove any loose bristles before you begin to paint.  This step will prevent those pesky hairs from ending up on your canvas, chair, or trim.  Once you have washed your brush smack it on the palm of your hand or on a tabletop to loosen any stray hairs.

2. When you finish painting for the day try to remove the majority of the paint from the brush onto your work surface or a rag before you start to clean the brush. The less paint in the brush, the easier it will be to clean.  Rinse the brush holding it by the handle with the brush end pointing down into the water stream.  Do not hold the brush head under the water with the bristles pointing up as this will push the paint down into the brush.  Pour some detergent into the palm of your hand and gently mash the bristles into the soap, working them up into the brush. Repeat this step till the soapsuds are not the color of the paint and the water runs clear when you rinse out the soap.

3. Always condition your natural bristle brushes after washing. Once my brush has been washed I squirt a small amount of inexpensive hair conditioner into my palm and work it into the brush just like I do when I condition my own hair. Rinse with cool water and shape the brush.

4. Hang your brushes to dry. Do not dry your brushes upside down, i.e. brush head up and handle down. If there is any residual paint in the brush it will settle down into the bristles close to the ferrule and will eventually cause the bristles to break from the build up.  I prefer to hang my brushes over the sink to dry.  You can use some wire to create “hooks” and hang the brushes off the faucet, thus allowing any water to drip into the sink( see photo).  Once dry, the brushes are returned to the brush board (see photo). For my fine art natural bristle brushes, I wash them as I have described and lay them on a shop towel to dry. Once dry they are returned to their proper containers for storage.





5. If you paint a lot you might consider investing in a brush “comb”(see photo).  You can find them in any hardware store and online.  This tool helps “comb” the paint out of the interior of the brush.  I use sand in some of my paint finishes and the comb helps to pull the sand and paint out of my brush. This tool also has a half circle edge that is used to clean paint rollers. I use the comb several times a day. It is a time saver as well as a brush saver.


If someone has abused one of your brushes and you think there is no hope in bringing it back to life try a product called “Kleen-Again” to resurrect it. Kleen-Again is a biodegradable product made with 100% American grown soybeans. Simply soak your natural or synthetic bristle brushes in the product for no more than an hour and rinse clean with water. I was surprised by the results I achieved with this product. Several brushes that I was sure were slated for the trash came back to life. Be careful with synthetic bristles, if they are soaked too long they could swell. Watch them carefully. This product can be strained of any debris and reused. You can also use Kleen – Again to clean your spray guns. Just follow the directions on the bottle.

Hope these tips help you with the care of your brushes.

Happy Painting!

Susan “Swooz” Hudson


Black Dog Architectural Salvage

Roanoke, Virginia

Click Here to view Kleen-Again.   

Q&A on

Q. I am getting ready to spray a large table top with a water based coating. I need to learn a good technique so I don’t mess up all my hard work.

A. Finishing is an art. There are many good spray techniques.  Here is one.

  • First, it’s most important to practice on wood that you don’t need.
  • Make sure the viscosity of your coating is correct and the needle and nozzle are correct relative to the spray equipment you are using.
  • Spray the edges, ends and trim first.
  • With water based coating on a large horizontal surface start on the bottom (side closest to you) so that your next pass will overlap and cover any light overspray that might be on the surface.
  • Begin your pass a few inches before the edge of the surface.  Release the trigger at the end of the pass a few inches past the end of the surface.
  • Begin the next pass by positioning the spray gun so you overlap the top third of the previous pass. Press the trigger before you reach the wood.
  • Continue to cover the surface.


Q. I sanded before I sprayed. Then I sprayed my first coat. The color on the seat of my chair is different than the back. I think I used different grits. Is that the problem?

A. It is very important that your entire piece be final sanded with the same grit sandpaper or you can have a color deviation. In this photo you can see that we took a piece of poplar and sanded sections with different grit sandpapers. I then applied one coat of the dye across the board. Note the color differences across the board.


Thank you, master finisher, Charles Neil

Take a Break and Have Some Fun!

See how many words you can find. Look for words horizontally and vertically. You can print this page, including the puzzle, work offline and then highlight words as you find them.

Caring for Brushes