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I’ve just received an advance copy of Bob Flexner’s new book, “Flexner on Finishing,” and I must say that I’m awfully pleased with it. I was already intimate with the contents , I spent the long Memorial Day weekend doing a frantic final edit on the book (It had to be handed off to the production department to send to the printer the Tuesday we were back at work), and I’d seen several rounds of proofs before then. But they were all from the office printer (more on that later).

“Flexner on Finishing” (Bob’s first book since the groundbreaking “Understanding Wood Finishing”) is a collection of all the magazine articles on finishing (with a bonus chapter on furniture repair) that Bob has written for Popular Woodworking Magazine over the last 12 years, along with a few articles from other sources.

It’s fair to say that Bob has changed the way thousands , if not hundreds of thousands , of woodworkers approach finishing. His straightforward, no-B.S. writing has helped to dispel many finishing myths that other magazines and finish manufactures perpetuate. His research and experimentation have paved the way for the rest of us to achieve a great finish without a lot of fuss. And thanks to Bob, we know that finishing , like everything in woodworking , is simply a process that has to be learned. There’s no magic; it just takes the right knowledge and a little practice.

Initially, we planned to simply reprint Bob’s articles as they appeared in the magazine. But that would have been too easy , and not as useful to readers. Instead, Bob spent a couple months updating and revising his work, combining and expanding columns on similar topics, and incorporating new information.

And of course, the magazine’s style has changed over the years, so while editing, I did my best to ensure that everything was consistent throughout (and I have a few pet peeves that I was delighted to be able to address).

So to make a long story a little longer: I already knew that the information and instruction in the book was stellar (and I knew that the editing was at least OK) , but upon seeing the finished hardcover book, I was astounded by just how good it looks. Linda Watts, our art director, did a beautiful job of laying out the pages and incorporating artistic shots of finishing products , and now that it’s presented on heavy, bright-white coated stock rather than crappy office copier paper, well, it’s just gorgeous. Sure, I should be showing you the cover here (it’s nice, too), but I don’t want to. Instead, what you’re seeing are the title page and a couple “chapter openers” (which I scanned on the copier , my apologies if they’re a little crooked).

I didn’t know a grotty old spray gun or some much-used paintbrushes could be that attractive!

To see the cover (and to order a copy at a pre-publication discount), click through to our store.

– Megan Fitzpatrick

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