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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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...

Here is the front cover of his book.

Books on Repairing Furniture

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had good woodworking skills 40 years ago when I started doing furniture restoration, including furniture repair. But repairing furniture is different than making it. So how did I learn good repair skills? I learned them from a number of excellent books, which showed me good practices...

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You Read it Here First: Pee Back Paint

In my first blog post I told you about a new smart-coating technology that causes liquids, including pee, to bounce off surfaces. In the case of pee, it bounces back onto the perpetrator, so it’s used to discourage people (men) from peeing on walls in public places. The example I used was from the...

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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...