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

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...

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...