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 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.


Hide Glue (2): How it’s Made

The largest, and I think only, hide-glue factory left in the United States is Milligan & Higgins, located in Johnstown, New York, west of Albany, off Interstate 90. You can buy hide glue directly from the company in 50-pound or larger quantities. For smaller quantities, resellers include Woodworker’s Supply, Tools for Working Wood, Merit...


Will Paste Wax Damage a Finish?

A reader thought he remembered my cautioning against applying paste wax over water-based finish or latex paint. His memory was that I had said that paste wax could damage these coatings. This is not true, of course. There’s no problem applying most paste waxes over water-based finish or latex paint. But the source of...


How to Predict that a Wood will Blotch

A common question is: “How can I know if the wood I’m using is going to blotch when I apply a stain or finish?” This question comes up most often when finishing cherry, which has become a very popular wood. The solution is actually rather simple. Anytime you wet wood, you create the same...


Aerosol Finishing Products

It took me a long time to realize the full value of finishing products in aerosol cans. Not only can you finish an entire object with these aerosols, especially if the object isn’t large, you can also use them as an easy barrier coat when the finish you’re brushing has the chance of lifting...

M-60 Army tank in battlefield.

Smart Coatings: On Land and Sea

Picture a military vehicle such as the tank shown. To help disguise it, it is painted with colors that blend in with the surrounding landscape. Problem is, the vehicle might move to a different landscape during battle, leaving it more exposed. So researchers in Australia have come up with a coating that changes colors...


Hide Glue Part 1: Overview and Introduction

You can’t really talk about repairing antique furniture without explaining hide glue because it was the glue used on almost all furniture made before the 1950s. So, with this post I’m introducing what I hope will be a series of posts in the coming months on hide glue. I’ve written about hide glue many...


Caution When Buying a Spray Gun

I was teaching a hands-on finishing class, including spraying, a while back when a student brought me a spray gun he had bought a year before from another teacher who was selling a line of spray guns. The spray gun wasn’t working right and he couldn’t figure out why. We fixed the problems, but...


How Myths get Started

I’m bouncing off of Chris Schwarz’s August 25 blog post where he describes how myths can get started. I’ll leave you to read what he says, but basically Chris realized that a simple joke can lead to a myth that gets repeated everywhere and never dies. Chris is talking about the woodworking world, which is...


Is it the Object or the Finish?

I got a call recently from a friend who runs a mid-size woodworking shop. He was making several dozen walnut tables for a restaurant and finishing them with pre-catalyzed lacquer. He sent off a sample of the finish to the restaurant owner, who came back with an objection. The restaurant had hired a professional...