finishing

Brush End-to-End

When brushing a large surface such as a tabletop, you want each brush stroke to go from one end to the other with the grain. If the brush can’t hold enough finish to go the entire distance, brush several partial strokes, then connect them with a long end-to-end stroke. Lay the bristles down just...

Water Warps Wood Opposite from What You May Think

Water causes wood to swell, so most people think that wetting one side and not the other will cause the wetted side to bow – that is, increase in width so the center is higher than the edges. If the wood is thin enough, this will be the case initially. But the overall swelling...

Brown Paper Bag Trick

A smooth feel is critical when judging the quality of a finish. It’s natural for people to run their hand over a finish, feel dust nibs and say, “This is not a great finish.” The problem is, there’s almost always a little dust that has settled on, and stuck to, the last coat of...

Regular Paint vs. Pee-Back Paint

In my introductory blog post, I mentioned that there are a lot of fascinating advances being made in the coatings industry. This one may top the list. Most of us guys have done it, and maybe even some gals (but it’s different). We’ve come out of a bar or club late at night and...

Bob Flexner, Now Blogging

About six years ago, Megan Fitzpatrick, the editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine, asked me to join the group of editors blogging on the magazine website. I don’t remember why I turned her down. Maybe I was just really busy. Anyway, the possibility came up again recently and I jumped at the chance. I have...

Shellac Tiger Flakes from Tools for Working Wood

by Christopher Schwarz page 16 Because shellac is my favorite finish, I have tried nearly every brand of flakes on the market. By far, my favorite brand is the premium dewaxed flakes – Tiger Flakes – sold by Tools for Working Wood in Brooklyn, N.Y. Because there are no lac bugs in Brooklyn, this...

In Search of the Perfect Wax Finish

My four-decade-long desire to identify, understand, replicate and develop new analogs to historic furniture-making materials has led me on some interesting quests and situations. Included in these would be learning a lot about tropical insects whose “sweat” is the foundation for the most amazing finish ever (shellac); studies of sausage casings, artificial skin and...

Stop the Watermarks: Don’t Cook!

A friend recently asked me about the creeping white haze on the wooden cabinets over her stove. I told her the problem was caused by actually using the stove; she needed to quit cooking. That was an unpopular suggestion (she has two young boys, one of whom is reaching the hollow-leg stage of food...

Make Yourself a Nice Polissoir

Reader Greg Merritt of Parkersburg, W. Va., drew up plans for making a nice-looking polissoir using broom corn and tarred nylon. The polissoir features two knots – a constrictor knot and a decorative Turk’s head knot, which are both easy to make. Merritt drew up complete instructions for making the polissoir and provided a...