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 a lot to say.
You may be familiar with me through my long-running column, “Flexner on Finishing,” in the magazine, or from one of my books on finishing. Or maybe you attended one of my finishing classes in the ’90s and 2000s.
I began woodworking by restoring an old house in Washington D.C. while I was in the Navy in the mid-1960s. I continued off and on working in cabinet shops overseas. In 1976 my wife, two boys and I moved back to the U.S. and I opened a woodworking shop with the intention of making custom furniture.
Orders didn’t keep up with the time I had available, though, so I expanded into restoring old furniture. After half-a-dozen years doing both, I realized that I liked the restoration part a lot more, so I pretty well stopped making furniture and concentrated just on restoration. I loved it, and there was always plenty of work.
But there was a problem. Part of restoration is stripping and finishing, and I became very confused because of the contradictory information in magazines, books and from manufacturers. I became very frustrated.
In the late 1980s, I was asked to make two videos (now DVDs) on repairing and refinishing furniture for Taunton Press (Fine Woodworking). Fortunately (for me) they wanted the repair video first, so I knew I would have almost a year to try to make sense of finishing.
I used that time well, and it led, after a few years, to a new career writing about wood finishing, and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of doing this ever since.
In this blog I intend to write about finishes and wood finishing, of course, but also about furniture restoration and conservation, some history, and about coatings (paints and finishes) in general. I find the understanding of coatings and all the changes taking place fascinating.
Until next time…
— Bob Flexner