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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Screwing up the Finish Won’t Ruin Your Project

I say this often. I’ve written it many times. Maybe I get the insight from the many years I’ve spent refinishing furniture. No matter how good or how careful you are, stuff still happens, and you have to strip off what you’ve done and start over. Every professional or semi-professional refinisher knows this because...

Stripping with a Heat Gun

Some finishes are impenetrable by any stripper. That’s when you turn to stripping with a heat gun. My daughter-in-law found a dining table she really loved and wanted to refinish it. I was visiting, so naturally, she asked me how to remove the old finish, which was damaged. It turned out that the table was...

Crazing from Body Sweat

All finishes craze ­– that is, develop small cracks – as they age, especially if they are exposed to a lot of sunlight. But there’s another type of crazing, and it can happen much faster. This is crazing caused by body sweat. You commonly see crazing of this type around cabinet-door pulls and drawer...

Get a Perfect Finish Every Time

There’s probably no phrase in finishing that irritates me more than this one: Get a perfect finish every time. It’s commonly used by editors and publishers to title articles, sub-title books, and in general to promote information they want you to look at. You rarely see this type of phrase in reference to woodworking:...

Measure twice, paint once!

I’m sure you’ve heard the admonition to measure twice before you cut once. If you haven’t, take it from me that it’s very good advice. You’ll save a lot of wood and grief by doing this. But what about “measure twice before you paint once?” The grounds crews at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium where the...

Hide Glue (2): How it’s Made

The largest, and I think only, hide-glue factory left in the United States is Milligan & Higgins, located in Johnstown, New York, west of Albany, off Interstate 90. You can buy hide glue directly from the company in 50-pound or larger quantities. For smaller quantities, resellers include Woodworker’s Supply, Tools for Working Wood, Merit...

Will Paste Wax Damage a Finish?

A reader thought he remembered my cautioning against applying paste wax over water-based finish or latex paint. His memory was that I had said that paste wax could damage these coatings. This is not true, of course. There’s no problem applying most paste waxes over water-based finish or latex paint. But the source of...

How to Predict that a Wood will Blotch

A common question is: “How can I know if the wood I’m using is going to blotch when I apply a stain or finish?” This question comes up most often when finishing cherry, which has become a very popular wood. The solution is actually rather simple. Anytime you wet wood, you create the same...

Aerosol Finishing Products

It took me a long time to realize the full value of finishing products in aerosol cans. Not only can you finish an entire object with these aerosols, especially if the object isn’t large, you can also use them as an easy barrier coat when the finish you’re brushing has the chance of lifting...