Wood Finishing

No woodworking project is finished until it is, well, finished. There are many wood finishing techniques in the world, each one with different functional and aesthetic characteristics. The final finish can turn a project into a masterpiece, or ruin hundreds of hours of hard work. Find out here how to finish wood the right way, every time, no matter what woodworking project you’re completing. Whether you’re finishing up an elegant, delicate jewelry box, or an outdoor chair meant to face the elements, you’ll find the right wood finishing technique here.

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Free Wood Finishing Guides

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...

Second story oak floor wet mopped for many years

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...

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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...

The most efficient method of applying stain is to wipe it on using a soaking-wet cloth. Notice on this stereo cabinet, which was made without a back, I’m not having any problem getting the stain into the inside corners.

Wipe, Don’t Brush Stain

Wiping is the efficient way to apply stain. The purpose of this article is to emphasize what I’ve said in passing many times: It’s much more efficient to wipe stain onto wood with a rag than to brush it. Wiping is fast, almost as fast as spraying (without the downside of having to clean...

Crackle Paint board

Learn to Finish Wood

As I get more experienced with woodworking, I find finishing to be one of the most intimidating topics. How am I, or anyone for that matter, supposed to be comfortable with finishing when there are so many choices? How to acquire the knowledge and skills to know the proper ways to finish a project,...

finish blush

Flexner on Finishing: Application Problems

Solutions to a baker’s dozen of common finishing difficulties. by Bob Flexner It’s easy enough to provide instructions for applying finishes. But in the real world, things go wrong; problems occur that you have to deal with. With the combined goals of defining the problems, providing ways to avoid them, then fixing them after...

AW73Jun99 Q&A

Q & A: Matching Old Stains

Q: I have to match an old stain. I’ve come pretty close with a new stain I bought at the hardware store, but it’s not good enough. Is there a way I can tint the stain? A: There are several fairly simple ways to alter the color of commercial stain. Probably the easiest is...

beeswax block

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...