Flexner on Finishing Blog


Bob Flexner is a contributing editor to Popular Woodworking and the author of woodworking finishing books, including “Flexner on Finishing,” “Understanding Wood Finishing,” and “Wood Finishing 101,” available at ShopWoodworking.com. Also available are his DVDs on “Repairing Furniture” and “Refinishing Furniture.” Bob is probably best known for defining the products used in wood finishing and organizing them into categories that make them easily understandable.

He’ll also be writing here about furniture restoration – another of his areas of expertise.
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Lacquer is Easy to Clean from a Spray Gun

Lacquer is such a wonderful and versatile finish. I think every professional I’ve talked to who has used lacquer and other finishes (with good exhaust, of course) loves lacquer. There are lots of reasons for this, including reduced runs and sags, relative ease of control in different weather conditions with the solvents available, relative ease...

Rubbing Out a Finish: The Plastic Spreader Trick

Rubbing out a finish to achieve a perfectly flat surface on porous woods such as mahogany and walnut is a lot of work, so it’s usually reserved for tabletops. Using a film-building finish (not oil), the first step is to sand the finish back, or level it, to leave the pores filled in. You...

Oil & Varnish: A Refresher

If you go back to the early issues of U.S. woodworking magazines in the 1970s and ’80s and read about oil finishes, you’ll come away confused. The more you read the more confused you’ll become. I know this because I was there. The claims and explanations were all over the map. More often than...

Brands of Dye Stain Differ

For my column in the current issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, April, 2017 (#231), I wrote about how brands of water-soluble dye stains sold to the woodworking community differ. One of the differences is the degree to which they can be redissolved and lightened by wiping over with a wet cloth. My point was...

‘Water-white’ – What That Means in Finishing

You may have come across the term “water-white” for describing finishes. It’s a little confusing. It means a finish that is totally devoid of amber coloring in liquid form. The finish looks like water in the can. It doesn’t look white. In practice, the term is used to describe a type of lacquer, and...

Use a ‘Nail Board’ to Speed Finishing Work

Here’s a finishing trick you may not be familiar with. You can brush or spray both sides of flat panels and cabinet doors without having to wait for one side to dry by using a nail board – except I used drywall screws instead of nails. These screws have very tiny pointed tips that...

Hide Glue – Preparing the Grains or Pearls

Most hide glue is sold as a solid in granular or pearl form. To prepare hide glue for use, estimate how much solid glue you can use up in a few days to a week or more (it’s myth that you need to throw out the glue at the end of each day), and...

Finishing in Colder Temperatures

We’re well into winter now, and you may have noticed that your finishes seem thicker. Thicker finishes are more likely to orange peel or leave brush marks. You can deal with this by adding thinner, but this will reduce the build of each coat. It’s better to be sure your finishes are warm before...

Stir the Finish – Unless it’s Gloss

I have a confession to make. No one knows I did this, at least no one who speaks English, not even my wife. But you are about to know it. In 1974 my wife (who is Danish) and I moved to Denmark to try to live there. Things were not good in the United...