Flexner On Finishing

Spontaneous Combustion & Oil Finishes: Drape Rags Over the Edge of a Trash Can to Avoid a Fire

Drying oils, especially linseed oil (raw or boiled), are the only finishing materials that spontaneously combust. Solvents don’t spontaneously combust, paint strippers (including paint or finish residue) don’t spontaneously combust, and no type of varnish spontaneously combusts. It’s not totally clear whether 100% tung oil can spontaneously combust, so treat it like it does....

Titanium Dioxide a Carcinogen? Europe Thinks It Is

It’s not just solvents such as methylene chloride that are coming under scrutiny as suspected human carcinogens. (I wrote about methylene chloride in the June, 2017 issue of Popular Woodworking.) The European Chemicals Agency’s Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) just classified titanium dioxide as a suspected cause of cancer. What is titanium dioxide (TiO2)?...

What to Do When White Oak Won’t Take Stain Evenly

I received a question from a woodworker who had made an end table from quartersawn white oak and had a problem with the stain penetrating unevenly. The problem showed up just on the end grain, not the long grain. And it showed up on both ends of the board. The woodworker explained that he...

Suspicions Confirmed: Zero VOC Claims Exaggerated

Ever since water-based paints and finishes began carving out a market for replacing solvent-based products, claims for the amount of solvent these products contain have been getting increasingly lower. That is, until a few years ago when some products actually began claiming zero VOCs. I’ve been suspicious of this claim ever since I first...

Hide Glue – Part 4: Factory Pictures

When I wrote my posting on how hide glue is made last Dec. 5, I knew I had pictures from the Milligan & Higgins hide glue factory, but I couldn’t find them. Now I have, so I thought it would be a good idea to share them with you. There’s no point is repeating...

Overspray and Bounce-back

Terminology is important. If we aren’t all using the same definitions, we can’t communicate. Using sloppy language is one of my pet peeves, and I spend lots of effort just defining terms. Here’s a term I often hear misused: overspray. Overspray is the sprayed finish that misses the target. It’s less common on large...