Flexner on Finishing: A Primer on Solvents

Categorize by type to cut through confusion.
By Bob Flexner
Pages: 90-92

From the December 2007 issue #166
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Unless you’ve been doing wood finishing for quite a while, I imagine the shelves of solvents in home centers and paint stores look pretty much like Greek to you. Which solvent goes with what? How does one make sense of all the possibilities?

Here’s the easy way to understand solvents for wood finishes.

First, divide the solvents between the petroleum distillates, including turpentine, and all the rest. Because most of the solvents on the shelves are petroleum distillates, this reduces the remaining products to a number that’s easy to handle.

Then make sense of the petroleum distillates and turpentine, all of which do essentially the same thing at different evaporation rates, and when this is done, deal with what is left.

From the December 2007 issue #166
Buy this issue now