Bob Flexner

The best finish for a cutting board is no finish

Cutting Boards: The Best Finish

A seemingly never-ending question concerns how to finish cutting boards. You don’t need any finish on a cutting board. Water won’t hurt it and no finish will keep water out anyway, after a few knife cuts. Nor will the finish continue to look nice after numerous knife cuts. If the cutting board begins to...

These are the three Zinsser Bulls Eye shellacs that no longer provide a date of packaging or a stated shelf life

User-Unfriendly Zinsser Bulls Eye Shellac

I went to Lowe’s a week ago to buy some shellac and was reminded that Zinsser, the maker of Bulls Eye Amber, Clear and SealCoat brands, no longer provides the date of manufacture so users can calculate whether or not the shellac will dry properly. And now the company has stopped telling users even...

Boiled linseed oil and tung oil

Comparing Linseed Oil & Tung Oil

The two commonly available pure oil finishes that can be used on furniture and woodwork with decent results because they cure – that is, turn from a liquid to a soft solid – are linseed oil and tung oil. There are important differences between these two oils. Raw linseed oil cures much too slowly...

solvnets

Using Solvents to Date Furniture

Editors note: Bob Flexner’s blog will move to the Flexner on Finishing Blog at the end of April. You can find it here. A few years ago I was called to a long-time client’s house to look at a problem on their newly purchased eighteenth-century Chippendale dining set. I was excited. How often do I...

Try cleaning first, with water, soap and water or mineral spirits.

Rejuvenating Old Finishes

Editors note: Bob Flexner’s blog will move to the Flexner on Finishing Blog at the end of April. You can find it here. Just because a finish is old and deteriorated, you don’t necessarily have to strip it and apply a new finish. You may be able to rejuvenate the finish so it looks...

Early 19th-century pie-crust table

Lacquer for Antiques & Reproductions

It’s widely believed and promoted that the proper finish for 18th and 19th-century antique furniture and reproductions is shellac. The reason is that shellac was the finish that was most likely used in that time period. I have no problem with this, but I want to make the case that nitrocellulose lacquer is also appropriate....

scratch disappears under UV light

Smart Coatings

It seems like everything is becoming smart these days: smart phones, smart watches, smart cars, smart drugs. There are even smart coatings (paints and finishes). I’ve blogged about one already, a coating that uses nanotechnology to create an air barrier that causes liquids such as pee to bounce off walls and cover the perpetrator’s...

Now, all one company

Troubling Consolidations

As in so many other industries, the companies who supply us with paints and finishes are consolidating at a rapid rate. When I started in this field 40 years ago, there were all sorts of local and regional suppliers. Every store carried its own unique brands. Minwax was a very small player. It was...

Analine dyes, Lockwood and Moser, which is relabled Lockwood

Synthetic Aniline Dyes: Where Did They Come From?

Before 1856 all dyeing, and for that matter, most coloring, whether on cloth or wood, was done using natural materials. Being natural materials, they varied, so it was difficult to predict the color you would get. Most of these dye colorants also faded easily. The breakthrough to a better dye was discovered accidentally by...