I get a fair amount of finishing questions. Recently, most questions that come my way ask how to finish a project that has inlay without heavily affecting the contrast between the project wood and the inlay. And readers want to know how to do that while achieving a nice-looking finish on the project. To me … Read more
Tag Archives: finishing
For most modern woodworkers, wax is not a finish. It goes on top of the finish and creates a barrier to scratches. But after reading the forthcoming translation of A.J. Roubo’s “L’Art du Menuisier,” it’s clear that wax was once a fast and beautiful finish for furniture. That is, when assisted with a tool that’s … Read more
Finishing doesn’t have to be complicated or mysterious. That’s not to say that even experienced finishers don’t run into problems from time to time; everybody does. But there are ways to make the outcome a lot more predictable and therefore less frustrating. Here are five ways to get good finishing results with the least … Read more
I received an e-mail from a reader the other day, asking about finishes for Greene & Greene furniture. It’s one of those areas where we have some good clues about what was used, but we can’t be certain. There were some variations in color from house to house, as well as variations in wood. These … Read more
Reformulations may compel you to adjust your finishing process.
By Bob Flexner
Many years ago a friend explained to me the difference between woodworking tools and finishes. Woodworking tools, he said, are physics. You can see them. You can see that a band saw isn’t a table saw even though it has a table.
But finishes are chemistry. You can’t see chemistry. Varnish and lacquer, for example, look the same, both in the can and on the wood.
So there is much more opportunity for finishes to be confusing, especially when manufacturers misrepresent them and magazines publish contradictory information about them.
I think this description goes a long way toward explaining why the health problems associated with finish solvents are feared more than those that are obvious with woodworking tools (cutting off your fingers, for example). This, even though the infrequent, low-level exposure to solvents experienced by most amateurs is quite unlikely to cause any problems at all.
Articles: You’ll find many free finishing articles on our web site.
In our store: “Flexner on Finishing” – 12 years of columns illustrated with beautiful full-color images and updated, and “Wood Finishing 101.” Read more
For me, shellac is a lot like grits. When prepared correctly from quality materials, the results are stunning. But if you buy your grits or shellac already made up, or they are old, or they aren’t top quality, you are going to wonder why people rave about the stuff. I’ve never had satisfactory results from … Read more
The first tenet of “I Can Do That” is that all projects we build for it must be doable with the modest (but decent) set of beginner tools we’ve identified, and for which we’ve provided instruction in the free “manual” (that can be dowloaded for free on the “I Can Do That” page). Sure, we … Read more