Techniques

Below you’ll find smart woodworking techniques including quick tips, advice for beginners and more advanced methods to improve your skills and allow you to get the most out of your workshop and tools. Whether you’re looking for traditional woodworking techniques using hand tools or power tools, finishing or sharpening advice, or just want to hone your woodworking basics, the advice below is from seasoned and trusted woodworkers and furniture makers working at the top of their field.

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...

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You Can Own the Rulers of the Ancient World

How we measure the world around us is a reflection of how our society interacts with the world. To wit: The metric system is, in my opinion, the most efficient way to gauge everything around us. And that is exactly why I dislike it so. It is a system based on base-10 efficiency and...

VOC compliant paint thinner

Beware VOC-Compliant Solvents

Southern California has the strictest VOC laws in the country. These laws have forced manufacturers to change the ingredients they use in paints and finishes, and even eliminate some – for example, oil paint and varnish. They have also done the same with solvents. For example, you can’t buy naphtha anymore, a solvent I...

Filled mahogany grain on the right

A Few Thoughts

I just finished reading an article on filling pores, and it reminded me of several things I’ve been meaning to say. First, filling pores is primarily a refinishing operation because so much of the old factory-made and finished furniture is mahogany with filled pores. To reproduce the original look, a refinisher has to fill...

You can thin all you want

You Can Add All the Thinner You Want

You often see cans of solvent finishes, including lacquer, and alkyd and polyurethane varnish, with instructions not to thin them. Manufacturers include these instructions in order to comply with VOC laws in some areas of the country, such as California. Adding thinner could take the finish out of compliance with the local or state...

To remove the residue NMP wipe several times with an alcohol dampened cloth

Remove Residue NMP From The Wood

The paint-and-varnish removers commonly available in stores are gradually shifting from those available in metal cans to those available in plastic containers. The ones in plastic aren’t as strong or fast acting as those in cans, which are methylene chloride and various lacquer-thinner solvents. Just the packaging, plastic vs. metal, tells you this. The...

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5 Must-Have Wood Finishing Supplies

You can create beautiful finishes without a lot of equipment, but there are a few things you should always have on hand. Here are a few things you should keep around for finishing that are helpful for other purposes too. Lint-free Rags Rags are great to have around the shop for many reasons, but they’re...

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Furniture Polishes

I spent most of the decade of the ’90s trying to make sense of furniture polishes. Claims from manufacturers were (and still are) all over the map. Even worse were all the contradictory opinions of my professional-refinishing colleagues, museum conservators, furniture-store clerks and my customers. I figured out pretty quickly that furniture polishes couldn’t...

1_Lay down some finish in the middle of an intended stroke

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...