Finishing Wood 101: Good Visuals - Popular Woodworking Magazine

Finishing Wood 101: Good Visuals

 In Feature Articles, Flexner On Finishing, Shop Blog, Techniques, Wood Finishing

I was lucky enough to be Bob Flexner’s editor for ‘Wood Finishing 101’. Throughout the process he and I both came back to the value of the images that would be in the book. Showing step-by-step, with pictures, how to apply a finish was the important part. Bob has always been a stickler for details, and that’s what we love about him, so I wasn’t surprised that his photos were meticulous and well-detailed, and I knew that what we were creating would be a valuable tool to almost anybody finishing wood.

Maybe because I was so involved with the process I  lost some of that perspective by the time the book was published. When Chris Schwarz posted his review of Bob’s new book, I was pleased that he liked and we ended up talking about it. Chris pointed out one of the things he liked most  about ‘Wood Finishing 101’, were the photos in which Bob was able to visually share some of the really hard things to explain about finishing. Chris is right, the photos are impressive. To give you a sense of what we’re talking about, here are a few examples from the book:

Shown above are Bob’s photos explaining the difference between a gloss (from left to right), semi-gloss and satin finish. It doesn’t get much more simple. Click on the individual photos for a larger image.

How about a couple of good examples of how important it is to sand properly before applying a finish. The photo below left shows off planer marks that weren’t properly sanded, while the photo on the right shows swirls left by a random orbit sander.

Glue left on a project before finishing is an invisible headache. Here’s what it looks like at a joint (left) and when an errant fingerprint (right) isn’t found in time:




Two more finishing issues; runs and sags, and bubbles.

The good news is if you follow Bob’s steps in ‘Wood Finishing 101’, you won’t have to see any of these characters (or character flaws) in real life. Great photos, Bob!

To order your copy of ‘Wood Finishing 101’ just follow this link.

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Showing 2 comments
  • jsosnowski123

    I had purchased avideo set, the problem was, i didnot realise part of the set was on the computer. I looked at it breifly, then i saw it said the three coputer books would always be there, so far i cant find them. pehaps you could help with this problem. Im not very good with computers. Please send an e-mail explaining how to retrieve the information. Thank you, John Sosnowski(

  • tsstahl

    I wonder, did he follow some schmuck like me around and take pictures, or did he screw up intentionally “for instructional purposes only”?

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