Author Archives: Bob Flexner

Bob Flexner

About Bob Flexner

Bob Flexner is a contributing editor to Popular Woodworking and the author of woodworking finishing books, including “Flexner on Finishing,” “Understanding Wood Finishing” and “Wood Finishing 101,” available at ShopWoodworking.com. Also available are his DVDs on "Repairing Furniture" and “Refinishing Furniture.” Bob is probably best known for defining the products used in wood finishing and organizing them into categories that make them easily understandable.

To test whether a finish is shellac or lacquer, dab alcohol or lacquer thinner onto the finish to see if the solvent makes the finish sticky or removes it

Stripping with Only Solvent

With shellac and lacquer finishes, which are the finishes used on almost all old furniture and woodwork, you can use their solvent for stripping instead of a paint-and-varnish remover. Depending on the object being stripped, I often find this method easier in the sense of spending less total time. It’s also less messy. Use...

The area just left of center shows what a sand through looks like. The grain and figure disappear and look more like a smudge

Sanding Through Veneer

You may be aware that I’m not a big advocate of random orbit sanders. I prefer to sand by hand most of the time. I think it’s faster, and it’s for sure safer, especially on veneer. If you’re gluing down the veneer yourself (maybe using a vacuum press), the veneer you’re using is usually...

Applying an oil finish to a deck and not wiping off the excess will leave the wood spotty, gloss and dull

Deck Stain Followed by Oil

My brother is remodeling his house, which is great for my blog because he’s a magnet for finish problems. Then he calls me. Here’s the latest: He hired a paint contractor to recoat his deck, which was worn in spots. The contractor pressure washed, let the deck dry, then brushed on a deck stain....

It's the glazing that highlights the moldings and carvings

Glazing to Highlight Detail

Glazing is easy to do, and it can add a lot of decoration to furniture or woodwork. In the case of the corner chest pictured, glaze is used to highlight the detail of the moldings and carvings. The glaze emphasizes the three-dimensional effect. The process is simple. First, seal the wood’s surface with one...

The old Goof Off with xylene (left) and the new Goof Off with acetone

Goof Off has Changed

When you roll latex paint onto walls and ceilings, some of the paint comes off the roller as spatter and lands on, and sticks to, furniture and other objects. All of us “old timers” know that if you want to remove this spatter without harming the finish, you get some Goof Off and rub...

Bleached Walnut

Bleaching the Color Out of Wood

Sometimes you want to make wood lighter than it is in its raw state. This is common when trying to match the wood to something that already exists. The way to do it is to first bleach out the color of the wood, then apply a stain, if necessary, to achieve the match. You...

Brands of oil:varnish blend

Oil/Varnish Blend Mythology

Every now and then someone comes into my shop, and in the course of conversation volunteers to me that his (it’s always a him) family had a secret formula for a finish that had been passed down for generations. Of course he wasn’t going to share it with me because then it wouldn’t be...

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Six Myths About Wood Finishing

The time and cost of materials you invest in any woodworking project can make the final finishing stage a nerve-racking one. You want to get it right, and there are a lot of wild ideas out there concerning finishing. Below you’ll find a few common wood finishing myths and the actual facts excerpted from Bob...

IWFLogo

IWF (International Woodworking Fair)

If you are a serious woodworker (even if you aren’t that good yet), and you’re looking for an unbelievable woodworking experience, let me suggest that you consider attending the International Woodworking Fair this summer in Atlanta. Words can’t adequately describe it. It’s HUUUUUGE – more than 1,000 exhibitors and 25,000 attendees. The only way you...