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.

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Introduction to Restoring Furniture

It has been my intention from the beginning of this blog to include postings about furniture restoration. By restoration I mean wood repair (including regluing), finish repair and refinishing. For twenty years, from 1976 to 1995 I ran a one-man (me) furniture making and restoration shop. I opened the shop with the intention of...

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Brush Lifts Stain While Brushing Finish

This may have happened to you. It’s surely happened to me. When you’re brushing a finish, the brush picks up some of the stain and lightens the wood. It’s even worse when the brush picks up so much stain that it leaves streaks. The first solution to try is to let the stain dry...

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Hyper-slick Coating

So I’m sitting at dinner trying to get the last of the ketchup out of the bottle pictured here when I noticed that almost none of the ketchup was left stuck to the inside of the container. The plastic was almost perfectly clean. Then I remembered reading about the new technology that was responsible...

Shown here are three types of shellac in already dissolved form and five colors of shellac flakes for you to dissolve in denatured alcohol

Shellac is Not Bug Poop!

OK, it’s a small thing, but I still get irritated when I see or hear shellac described as bug excretion. It’s not (think of the related word “excrement.”) It’s a resinous SEcretion (big difference) from a bug that feeds off of plum trees, which are native to South Asia. The bug secretes the resin...

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...