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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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...

Finish for Maloof-style chair

I got a call from a fellow who made a Sam Maloof-style chair and screwed up the finish using Maloof’s formula. I thought, how can you screw up a Maloof finish? Maloof combined three products – polyurethane, linseed oil and tung oil – to give him the look he liked on his chairs. Then...

Traditional Danish Workbench

I was thrilled to see the article by Bill Rainford in the current issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine in which he gives directions for making a traditional Danish workbench. It’s been a long time (more than three decades) since Tage Frid provided these directions, and lots of new people have taken up woodworking in...

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...