Flexner on Finishing: Finish Compatibility


Discover what finishing products work well together.
By Bob Flexner
Pages: 92-93

From the February 2008 issue #167
Buy this issue now

I’m sure you’ve come across cautions in woodworking books and magazines instructing you to “use a compatible product” – stain, filler, glaze, finish – and you’ve wondered, “What is compatible, and what isn’t?”

The phrase, “use a compatible,” is a “cover-my-behind” dodge used by authors who have little understanding of finishes. If you follow their procedures and then have problems, it must be your fault for using an “incompatible” product. The burden is on you to know what is compatible and what isn’t.

So what is compatible with what?

Three entirely different situations can be referred to by the word “compatible:”

  • Mixing liquids with liquids;
  • Applying stains, fillers, glazes and finishes; and
  • Coating over an existing finished or painted surface.

As I explain each of these, you will see that the issue of compatibility has been greatly exaggerated. In most cases, it’s obvious which liquids mix. Almost any finishing product can be applied over any other as long as the previous is dry. And almost any finish can be applied over almost any old surface as long as it is clean and dull.


From the February 2008 issue #167
Buy this issue now