Why is Finishing So Difficult?
Misleading claims and directions may be due to manufacturer ignorance.
by Bob Flexner
In the previous issue (#216) I wrote about teak oils and how none have anything to do with teak wood. Reading the article, you may have asked yourself why companies would put out products that aren’t what they say they are and don’t do what they say they do.
I used to think the people at these companies knew better and did this to fool us. But after more than 25 years of dealing with them, I’ve come to believe that many who target the DIY market just don’t understand their products. The companies aren’t actually finish companies; they’re marketing companies. They just sell stuff, using whatever labeling or claims they think will work.
How can they do this and get away with it, you ask? In my opinion it’s because finishes are chemistry – in contrast to woodworking, for example, which is physics. You can see that a band saw isn’t a table saw, even though it, too, has a table. But you can’t see the difference between varnish and lacquer, either in the can or on the wood – and they are very different finishes.
Because many marketing people have little understanding (even though their products are usually very good), we, the users, struggle. How else can you explain the following examples?
Articles: You’ll find many free finishing articles on our web site.
In Our Store: “Flexner on Finishing” – 12 years of columns illustrated with beautiful full-color images and updated, and “Wood Finishing 101.”
From the April 2015 issue, #217