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

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The Simple ‘Dirty Mahogany’ Finish

Here is one of my favorite finishes for any wood that is ring-porous or diffuse-porous. I call it “dirty mahogany” or “creepy janitor.” First a warning: I think this finish looks like crap on woods that have a closed pore structure, such as maple or cherry, and on softwoods. It looks great on anything...

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Milk Paint Primer – No Cause for Panic

TNN Imagine, if you will, spending somewhere in the neighborhood of 45-50 hours working on a project that not only looks halfway decent, but is destined (or at least intended) to transform your messy and cluttered existence into a neatly organized and tidy way of shop life (see above*). Then, imagine wetting your brush...

Mixing finishes. Almost any finishing product can be applied over any other as long as the “other” is dry and the product you’re brushing doesn’t dissolve and smear the existing. I applied a water-soluble dye to this mahogany. Then I applied a thin shellac “washcoat” as a barrier so the water-based paste wood filler I used wouldn’t dissolve and smear the dye. After the filler dried, I brushed polyurethane. I alternated water-based, alcohol-based and mineral-spirits-based without any problems because each previous product was dry.

Five Furniture Finishing Tips

  Wood 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...

Stickley 74 Book Rack reproduction by Robert Lang

Authentic Stickley Finish With Modern Materials

For the August 2012 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, I built a reproduction of a Gustav Stickley No. 74 Book Rack. It’s a great piece in a couple of ways: It is useful and nice looking, and it is also a great introduction to making through-tenon keyed joints, one of the hallmarks of Arts...

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Doesn’t that Interfere With Finishing?

The answer is “no.” What’s the question? “Doesn’t (oil, tallow, paraffin, beeswax, snake squeezins, earwax, monkey fat) interfere with finishing?” Still, the answer is “no” – unless you are using some wacky exotic ingredient, or you are rubbing it on like butter. I know that it’s almost impossible to prove a negative, so permit...

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Wiping Varnish

In the November 2011 issue, Bob Flexner submitted this excerpt from his book "Wood Finishing 101," along with the article on wiping varnish. It is a useful document that you can post in your shop. To download the PDF, click on the link below. –Ajax Alexandre PWM_WipingVarnish

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Finishing Wood 101: Good Visuals

I was lucky enough to be Bob Flexner’s editor for ‘Wood Finishing 101′. Throughout the process he and I both came back to the value of the images that would be in the book. Showing step-by-step, with pictures, how to apply a finish was the important part. Bob has always been a stickler for...